Should Direct Mail Be Your New BFF?

June 24, 2019

If you’re a direct mail marketer, you’ve most likely been following the news as retailers have been sharing their first quarter results.

Both J.Jill and Nordstrom reported weaker than anticipated performance, and both retailers have attributed this, in part, to a shift away from direct mail in their marketing mix.

While there has been a trend in moving toward a digital-only, or a digital-first media approach in marketing, the DMA’s most recent Response Rate Report states that direct mail’s average household response rate is 5%, compared with just 1% for email, paid search, and social media.

At ForwardPMX, we consistently see direct mail continuing to prove its value in the media mix as a driver of growth. Specifically, for retail clients, catalogs often influence incremental lift in online channels, where we see significant spikes in online traffic during weeks when catalogs are in-home. Across other commercial client verticals, we see direct mail playing a strong role in ongoing retention programs. As consumers, it’s sometimes easy to become ‘digitally-lazy’ when scanning our email inboxes, so touching customers multiple times, across multiple types of media, has been successful for keeping subscriptions active, retaining customers, and introducing new products and product features.

In the nonprofit industry, we’ve identified a trend that points to online giving steadily increasing from individuals who receive direct mail pieces. While many thought this would be in replacement of traditional direct mail giving, what is being uncovered is that these growing online transactions are incremental to the core direct mail donations. This has proven to be amplified during the Holiday/Year End giving time frame, where online attribution response rates can be up to 2x as strong as the remainder of the year. For one particular humanitarian organization client, we saw revenue increase by 44% when attributing online donations to individuals who received a mail piece in home within the past 30 days.

If this all has piqued your interest, here are a few additional quick stats that could help with making a case for keeping (or introducing) direct mail in your upcoming campaigns:

  • The average household receives 157 emails each day. That same household will receive just 2 pieces of direct mail each day, enabling it to stand out in a sea of digital messaging
  • 92% of young shoppers say they prefer direct mail for making purchasing decisions, and more than 80% also believe that printed messages are more trustworthy than messaging coming solely from digital channels
  • Direct mail brings in 78% of donations for nonprofits
  • 61% of recipients find direct mail influenced their purchasing decision
  • Almost 44% of recipients hold on to offers they receive in the mail
  • Direct mail response rates for both house lists and prospect lists nearly doubled in 2018 (9% and 4.9%, respectively)
  • Adding direct mail to your digital ad campaign boosts your conversion rate by 28%
  • 44% of people said that they visited a brand’s website after receiving direct mail; 34% searched online

And, while it is true that direct mail carries the highest CPA of any medium, the DMA’s study shows direct mail’s ROI increased by 12 percentage points, exceeding that of online display.

ForwardPMX’s Direct Mail subject matter experts are always happy to review your current marketing plans, and to talk with you about a balanced media mix solution to best fit your budget dollars and desired results.

Mark McLean
Justin Bronce
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