Benefits of direct mail marketing and using for your marketing channel

Working in a Mailing House supplying Direct Mail Services to businesses across the UK, there are several questions that keep cropping up whenever I’m speaking to potential prospects or audiences at an event.

How can anyone afford to use direct mail campaigns when email campaigns are so cheap? How does direct mail compare to email? What are the pros and cons of using direct mail?

They’re all valid questions so let’s quickly demolish the first one…

Why send a direct mail campaign when email is so cheap?

Emails are cheap, yes, but the very cheapness and widespread use of emails have caused an unforeseen problem. Every email runs the gauntlet of being lost amidst the sheer volume of competition so email can be deceptive. It might be cheap, but cheap doesn’t always mean effective.

washington direct mail

Email also has the unintended consequence of thinning out and getting rid of a lot of poor quality direct mail campaigns – the ones we would normally call junk mail – as they’ve moved onto email. The simple truth is that those marketers that are still using direct mail and using it consistently year after year, are using it because it does work and can provide a great return on investment. Direct mail has a way of cutting through the interference in a world where your audience is constantly bombarded by cheap and largely irrelevant emails.

How does direct mail compare to email?

Well… the proof of the pudding is in the eating they say, so as an example, one direct mail marketing agency that we supply direct mail services for recently mailed out 100,000 one piece campaign mailers for a national bus company and received a 24% offer redemption rate.

transactional direct mail

24% redemption… that’s huge when compared to most email campaign click-through rates, let alone purchase goal rates!

That’s not to say you can’t get decent offer redemption rates from email but it’s much more usual to find them closer to one to five percent.

So what are these direct mail marketers doing that business owners of all sizes should take notice of? How are they managing to get such good return on investment rates compared to email marketers? Two things; firstly, they know their audience inside out and they’re hyper-personalising the message. They make certain that they use every possible piece of data to its maximum effect. Secondly, they no longer see the direct mail channel as standing alone. They recognise that their audience routinely switches in and out of online and offline channels which is reflected in their calls-to-action.

Their message isn’t just conveyed through traditional channels like direct mail and email, it also spread across formats such as email, Youtube, social media and mobile apps, maximising the opportunity of their target audience responding.

What are the pros and cons of using direct mail?

It’s true, direct mail can be expensive when compared to email, but as we have seen above, it’s only expensive when it’s done badly and without forethought.

The best examples of successful direct mail campaigns are clearly those where the campaign has been driven by the data itself. With the advent of variable digital printing, each piece of direct mail can be unique, based upon the individual characteristics of a single person. This has given rise to highly targeted direct mail campaigns with extreme cut through rates that cannot be matched by intangible mediums such as email.

For instance, no other channel to market could allow the recipient to use all five of their senses – sight, sound, feel, and even smell and taste – to receive a hyper personalised offer, at the correct point of their customer journey, in quite the way a personalised digital direct mail campaign can.

A fully tailored marketing solution

And because personalised digital printing for marketing campaigns has no maximum direct mail print quantities, it’s not just for small niche markets either. Variable Digital Printing presses can quite literally churn out hundreds of thousands of direct mail pieces, each crafted with specific images, offers, contact preferences, and suggested purchases. All this is driven by your data records so marketers really can have their cake and eat it… tailored mass marketing.

Plus, in a further irony, it turns out that good quality direct mail, when supporting and being supported by other marketing mediums such as email, brand advertising, digital adverts and SEM, actually increases the overall response rates of a campaign – the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

So the outstanding question that this article prompts should be “Why aren’t you using personalised digital direct mail campaigns as part of your ongoing marketing strategy?”


If you’d like to talk about a potential direct marketing idea you have, get in touch with us. We’d be more than happy to share our insight and help you on your way.

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