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Marketing Channel: Direct Mail


About Marketing Channel: Direct Mail

What is Direct Mail Marketing?

Direct mail marketing is a traditional marketing method where customers receive flyers, catalogs, postcards and advertising mail via postal services. Although most mailing marketing is conducted with email marketing, direct mailing is still widely used in the digital age. Small business and brick-and-mortar businesses rely on direct mail lists to reach new customers.

Why Does Direct Mail Marketing Work in a Digital Age?

Despite the decreasing prevalence of traditional marketing methods, direct mail remains a widely used marketing tactic. Email marketing is the most prevalent marketing tactic, but direct mail campaigns can yield higher ROI than paid search or online display ads.

Direct mail advertising provides a wide array of benefits.

  • Direct mail campaigns work well with digital marketing strategies  - The most successful digital marketing strategies are omni-channel. Pairing a traditional method with digital strategies provide greater marketing opportunities. Sending a direct mailer to recipients with a scannable coupon code or special offer is one example.
  • Direct mailing is easier to reach target audiences - Like targeted social media campaigns, marketers can create targeted EDDM campaigns using USPS' Every Door Direct Mail tool. Direct marketers use the tool to target consumers in cities, states and zip codes. It also calculates cost of postage and outlines carrier routes.
  • Direct mail is trackable - Tracking conversions from direct mail is tricky but it's possible. Placing a tracking phone number or inserting custom landing page URLs in direct mail campaigns easily generate data in analytics or CRM software.
  • Direct mail is less common - Most marketers concentrate their efforts in digital marketing, which means there's more opportunities in direct mail. Direct marketing efforts provide a unique opportunity to add a personal touch in mailing that digital can't provide. The internet is full of marketing messages, but advertising through mailboxes can convey your message in memorable ways.
  • Direct marketing is tangible and personable - Physical mail often sticks around longer compared to email, where consumers can quickly delete them without opening them. What is junk mail for one recipient is useful for another. Consumers often take tangible coupons and pin them in noticeable places like on refrigerator doors to remember them later, or when deciding what to eat.Personalized physical mail resonates strongly with consumers, especially if your advertising adds personalized touches. Handwritten fonts on direct mail pieces add a nice thoughtful, personal touch.
  • Direct Marketing is useful for targeting all age groups - Direct mail performs better than digital among older demographics who aren't digitally savvy. Everyone checks the mail, younger and older alike. Coupons and postcards resonate with any customer, and help drive conversions across demographics.

Direct Mail Advertising Limitations

  • Fixed costs - Direct mail incurs fixed costs as it relies on a postal system to reach customers. Designing direct mail pieces can add additional costs like printing and paper, quickly turning your efforts into a less cost-effective solution.
  • Not-instant - Traditional mailers, considered snail mail, takes time to reach customers, which is detrimental for time-sensitive campaigns.
  • Mailing addresses must be physically acquired - Mail service is predicated on acquiring customer addresses, which is accomplished more effectively online with form fills.
  • Junk mail - Mailers are often considered junk mail, and can quickly find their way into trash cans much like emails can be quickly deleted.

Mailing Products and Tools

  • Booklets
  • Flyers
  • Brochures
  • Secure mailers
  • Priority mail
  • Reply mail
  • Certified mail
  • Rack cards
  • Envelopes
  • Mail lists

Measuring Direct Mail Campaign Performance

Although direct mail is primarily an offline endeavor, analytics tools and software are used to track direct mail performance. In order to track response rates from mail, direct marketers place tracking phone numbers, URLs and include call-to-action copy to drive consumers online.

Marketers sync tracking numbers and URLs with analytics software and tools to track clicks and calls. This method can also be applied to quick response (QR) codes and coupon codes. Tracking tools like Google Analytics can track, run and compare your offline and digital marketing campaigns side-by-side.

Evaluating the Success of Mailing Campaigns

To determine the success of a mailing campaign marketing specialists need to set goals and KPIs. Numerous metrics exist to measure the success of a campaign, but it's up to a business to determine what success looks like.

Success can range from increasing sales to boosting more website traffic, or increasing direct mail response rates. The most common direct mail KPIs are:

  • Response rate - Response rate is calculated by the percentage of people on your mailing list who respond to mailers. It's important to implement multiple tracking methods in your mail pieces otherwise response rates will end up skewed.
  • Conversion rate - Known as order rates, conversion rates are the number of recipients who acted on the offer in direct mail marketing campaigns. This process is fairly immediate for small businesses like pizza chains who acquire an order and use a discount code at the same time. Businesses with longer sales cycles rely more on conversion rates than response rates for KPIs.
  • Average order size - A figure demonstrating the amount of income earned for every sale originating from mail. Average order size is calculated using data from direct mail campaigns, which finds the difference between an average order and a web lead.
  • Return on investment (ROI) - The most useful KPI for most businesses. It communicates how successful a campaign is overall. Marketers calculate ROI dividing the revenue by the campaign cost.

What is Customer Lifetime Value?

A unique success metric tied to evaluating direct marketing success is customer lifetime value. Generating long-term value for customers using coupon codes, special discounts or other offerings can extend a customer's relationship with a brand. The more value a brand offers, the longer the customer's relationship with a brand is.

Direct Mail Services

Direct Mail Services help businesses of all sizes print, stamp and deliver mail in bulk to their customers. Some services also provide designs templates to business owners with limited in-house design capabilities to execute their mail campaigns.

Some of the most popular direct mail services in business are:

  • Cactus Mailing - Excels in brochure delivery and design services.
  • PrintingForLess.com - PrintingForLess specializes in EDDM direct mail service.
  • PostcardMania - Capable of executing high-volume postcard campaigns in bulk.
  • Gunderson Direct - A full-service direct mail marketing agency.
  • PsPrint - offers a wide range of mailing products and services. Services include mailing list processing.
  • Vistaprint - One of the biggest printing solutions companies available. Customers can purchase customized mailing lists to target specific demographics.
  • NextDayFlyers - Specializes in postcards, brochures and mail rack cards. Consumers can rent mailing lists for campaigns as well.

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