what big data says about the demise of direct mail marketing 1

What Big Data Says About the Supposed Demise of Direct Mail Marketing

You’ve heard the story: When the famous author Mark Twain read his own obituary in the newspaper, he responded in a letter, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” No kidding. You could say the same thing in response to naysayers who claim direct mail marketing is dead.

They’re dead wrong. And the numbers prove it.

The US Postal Service – an organization that knows something about direct mail – says their studies repeatedly show more than half of recipients read direct mail postcards. That’s great news, but you’re trying to make money with your marketing. So how many who read your direct mail respond?

The Big Daddy of Big Data is the 2014 Direct Mail Association Report.

This compendium of the most-up-to-date research proves beyond any doubt that the reported demise of direct mail marketing is flagrantly off-base. For obvious reasons, the DMA has been studying the industry for decades, and the fact that direct mail has been so widely used for decades should you tell you something, too.

So what does the latest report say?

  • In the last 25 years, direct mail response rates have risen in all age categories except one (25-34). What’s perhaps even more notable is that since the Great Recession – when most consumers couldn’t respond to much of anything – direct mail response rates have continued to increase. Dead things don’t grow.
  • In most age categories, response rates average well over 40%, as does the number of recipients who find direct mail useful. And there is one extra-encouraging piece of data: the 22-24-year-old group is the top “performer” in these stats, which is good news for most marketers. Your up-and-coming audience may be techno-hip, but they love to hear from you via direct mail, so keep those postcards headed their way.
  • Email can play an important role in your overall marketing strategy, especially for nurturing leads and staying in touch with existing customers, but it doesn’t cut it for generating leads in the first place. Direct mail lead gen averages a response rate of 4.4%, whereas email generates a response rate of a mere 0.12%.

The internet has not created a total marketing eclipse.

Yep, inbound marketing is all the rage now, and for good reason. You ignore at your peril the fact that almost everyone uses the web to search for information about companies, products and services. But why would you want to wait for your prospects to go online?

Direct mail marketing enables you to get in front of people first, before the competition. It introduces your name, building credibility and trust over time and it allows you to make direct sales right away. You can use postcards to drive traffic to your website, to the phone to call for an appointment or to your front door to shop or eat or get their taxes done.

Direct mail marketing has always enjoyed superb visibility in the mailbox, but today it stands out even more. Whereas your prospect’s mailbox used to be full of bills, now people pay online. So the internet has actually given direct mail a boost, not a death blow.

In short, the supposed death of direct mail is what your great-grandma used to call “bunk.” It’s easy to debunk, because if it was true, how could thousands of small businesses be using postcards successfully month in and month out to build their clientele and increase revenue?

Ultimately, the “Big Data” that is most meaningful to you is your own. Ask your direct mail experts what kind of results their clients similar to yours around the country are achieving. Ask (and use) their advice on how you can achieve results like that, too. Because even though average response rates for direct mail look good, you want better-than-average results.

Scroll to Top