Direct Mail in a Digital World
Thinking of direct mail advertising might elicit groans in the minds of many digital-age marketing “gurus,” thinking of it as nothing more than a non-stop barrage of cheap-o coupons and exaggerated bonus packages littering mailboxes day in and day out. Direct mail has been around since the dawn of mail itself, and so goes the saying of “out with the old, in with the new.” Print advertising in general is considered by some to be antiquated, and the gross assumption is often made that print will never impact new, younger target audiences in the way that digital can. So why in this increasingly digital age of advertising and sales should a business consider the traditional route of direct mail advertising to their target audiences? The answer is simple: because it works.
How Well Does it Work?
Studies from the Direct Marketing Association have consistently shown that not only has direct mail not lost its luster, but has continued to increase its effectiveness, even as forms of new media and digital advertising have grown with each passing year. The average response rate to direct mail stands strong at 3.4%, while email remains at around .12%. The true measurement of direct advertising effectiveness however is cost per lead, in which direct mail advertising is still the leader of the pack. Cost per lead of direct mail stands at about $51.40/lead while “pay-per-click” ads stand at $52.58/lead and email at $55.24/lead.
How is This Possible?
People tend to think that they are unaffected by advertising, and after years and years of receiving direct mail mixed in with bills and jury duty notices, tend to think of it as a mute point. But of those same people, 98% bring in their mail the day it is delivered, 77% sort through it immediately, then spend 25 minutes on average reading through direct mail ads, and a whopping 48% will keep direct mail pieces to reference later. And therein lies the difference, how many people hold on to spam emails or take screenshots of banner ads? Digital advertising can simply be too easy to ignore. The act of physically holding an advertisement in your hands leads to a dramatic increase in viewership and retention. People consistently prefer to read, retain, and organize something physical rather than a blast of light off of a computer screen.
Getting it Right
The power of readability does not come without its own problems. One advantage of direct mail is that your audience has to physically touch and handle the ad before they throw it away, so in those critical 5 seconds you have to hit the nail on the head. How do you make your ad stand out in a sea of monotony? The solution is in the strategy and content. The effort and creativity you devote to each piece can drastically alter its effectiveness, and help it stay afloat in the vast ocean of junk mail. Insight, creativity and potential are what keep direct mail increasingly relevant in an increasingly digital world.