Does Direct Mail Still Work?
It’s a question that marketing teams in many industries ask themselves as they try to come up with new and fresh ways to share a message with their audience. Though direct mail may feel outdated with all of the high-tech marketing campaigns you can create online, it is still a great way to reach your audience, get their attention in a saturated market, and connect with them on a more personal level.
Think of it like this: your audience is overwhelmed by the number of emails they receive and the advertisements they see on social media and websites; it’s nearly impossible to stand out with everyone competing for attention online. Direct mail, however, is a tangible product in your audience’s hands. Even if your mailer ultimately ends up in the trash, the recipient at least had to look at it and see your organization’s branding, bringing you front of mind in that moment.
Recent studies have found that direct mail campaigns see very positive results. As organizations become more strategic in building their mailing lists, the volume of direct mail being sent has decreased by about 2% each year since 2015. Despite this decline—and very likely because of it—response rates to direct mail can be over 10 times higher those of digital marketing.
Because of the effectiveness of direct mail campaigns, it then follows that ROI is higher than those from online channels. In fact, according to a 2017 report from the Data & Marketing Association, direct mail can have a median ROI of 29%, much higher than paid search ads.
How can you make your direct mail campaigns more effective?
Segment your list.
Don’t let your organization waste time and resources by sending direct mail to false leads. Build your list by purchasing consumer lists from reputable sources or by building your own mailing lists through online leads, former donors, or others who have had some point of connection with your organization.
Add value for your audience.
Make sure that your direct mail pieces will add value to your audience’s life. A gift for donation is common and can make your audience feel as though they are getting something in return for giving, but adding value doesn’t have to necessarily be a special offer. You can also provide branded materials that your audience will use in everyday life, such as a notepad to be used for grocery lists, a pen, or a magnet.
Your first goal in direct mail is to get your audience to simply open the envelope, so get creative in your presentation. Make it lumpy to spark curiosity. Use a large or unconventional sized envelope or even a tube mailer. You can also incorporate technology by adding a QR code or personal URL that will bring your connection offline to the online space for even more interaction with your audience.
If done correctly, direct mail can have massive benefits for your organization’s ability to share its mission with those most willing to support the cause. Though statistics showing the volume decrease in direct mail campaigns has become prevalent when talking about this form of marketing, organizations shouldn’t mistake this data as a sign that direct mail is dead.
Quality mailing lists and more unique mailers—on top of an oversaturated online marketplace and audiences tired of a constant onslaught of ads—have made direct mail one of the most effective ways of reaching and building lasting relationships with your audience.
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