In our last post, we noted that today’s young adults — those 24 years and younger — are the most responsive to direct mail. While that’s an interesting finding, particularly because this audience is almost innately e-connected, it also supports an important truth: Although some may rush to pronounce postal mail outdated as a marketing communications vehicle, direct mail is alive and well in 2015.

What’s more, while direct mail may not be as trendy as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or as quick to arrive as e-mail, a Direct Marketing Association (DMA) 2014 report showed that “ROI from direct mail outpaces the success of its digital and social cousins.”

What makes direct mail successful?

Some of the reasons direct mail works in a well-targeted campaign are true across all age groups. No, your message is not delivered instantly. And yes, a mail package requires a greater commitment of time and financial resources to produce than e-mail. But there’s also this: direct mail has the advantage of being deliverable to a physical address. It arrives in a format that must be physically handled. And it has a greater chance of actually being received, read and then resonating with your customer or prospect than the message that travels through cyberspace.

Consider the advantages of that simple fact. First, direct mail communications do not negotiate a spam filter. Your postal messages are simply delivered. So if you have a notification, for example, that you are legally obligated to provide to your customers, postal mail is still the most budget-friendly, provable process available to meet that requirement — in highly personalized detail, when necessary. What’s more, dismissing traditional mail requires more involvement than pushing the “delete” button. “Real” mail has presence.

Indeed, a direct mail message is a tactile experience. From the size and design of the envelope that carries your message, to the format and messaging of the components tucked inside, the package has the advantage of “touchable” engagement. While e-mail inboxes are bursting with messages too many to consider, the mailbox by the rosebush at the end of the drive holds manageable promise. The contents must be handled, whether briefly or in detail over coffee. Direct mail engages the recipient, and it does so personally. That’s true because today’s technologies let us personalize messaging to customers and prospects in more detail than ever before — in words and imagery.

Consider a few DM stats…

According to a study by the United States Post Office, 98% of consumers report they bring in their mail as soon as possible, and of those, 79% look through their mail immediately. Higher-income households are more likely to read and respond to direct mail offers and out of all the consumers surveyed, 48% reported they kept offers they were interested in for future reference. In short, mail packages get attention, engage audiences and drive response.

Bottom line: it’s a great value

When combined with a carefully targeted list, a strong offer, and compelling creative, direct mail typically pays for itself in the end. It has a much higher average response rate than e-mail (reportedly 4.4% versus 0.12%), and the ROI potential is high. Businesses large or small do well to carefully consider the value direct mail offers their customer communication programs, upsell or cross-sell efforts, and new business objectives. Alone and as part of a multi-channel marketing strategy, direct mail continues to play an important role in communications and marketing efforts, and offers considerable value and opportunity to businesses of all types and sizes.

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