The Resurgence of Direct Mail

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Direct Mail is in danger of being forgotten as an effective Direct Marketing tool. However, now more than ever, if utilised correctly it can produce excellent results.

The "Modern" Approach

In recent years the way we approach Direct Marketing has changed significantly. Gone are the days of relying purely on Direct Mail and outbound sales calls to generate new business. Instead, we have to consider Social Media, Search Engine Optimisation and of course, Email Marketing.

With most marketing activity now focussed on these modern, and often instant forms of Direct Marketing the demand for Direct Mail has dropped. In the B2B sector this trend is even more pronounced with a heavy focus on Email Marketing.

The obvious benefits of Email Marketing are the reduced costs and ability to accurately track the performance of each campaign. However, with the amount of email marketing and SPAM we are all too aware of the number of emails we each receive day in day out.

By contrast it is very rare to receive a piece of Direct Mail, particularly at work, and so when you do it stands out from the crowd. As a result we are more likely to read the contents and if the material is well targeted and presented, to follow up on the marketing.

Facts & Figures

With so much to gain by getting the right mix to marketing communication there have been many studies and reports which show that Direct Mail is still a vital part of any marketing strategy.

The Royal Mail/Mail Media Centre have carried out extensive research into Direct Mail and in a recent report established that 17.7 million people had purchased something on the back of a piece of Direct Mail in the past 12 months. Furthermore, adverting mail still generates £16 billion in sales each year in the UK alone. These figures are weighted heavily by B2C mailing, so would the same trend apply to B2B mailing? There is no reason why not as, after all, the people marketers are looking to contact are still individuals.

The impact of Direct Mail is not just on actual sales as Royal Mail research shows that 46% of BT customers prefer to be contacted by mail as compared to only 22% who preferred to be contacted by email. A report by Mail Media Centre shows that 58% of people are more likely to click on a digital link if they have previously received a physical mailing from the same company.

The dilemma of Email Marketing

Whilst the indications are good for Direct Mail the trend for Email Marketing success has started to decline. The Direct Marketing Associations Email Benchmarking Report showed a drop in click through rates of almost 50% in a 12 month period.

The same report highlights 3 major challenges to Email Marketing:

  • Growth in Email Volumes/Senders - makes it difficult to attract the recipients attention
  • The growth of Social media and other platforms
  • "The Intelligent Inbox" ‐ improved capability of ISPs and Mailbox providers to allow the user to pre-sort emails

However, Email Marketing remains one of the cheapest, quickest and easiest ways to attract new business and the potential for significant ROI is still there. In addition, with the Environmental challenges that we face Email Marketing enables companies to "Go Green" helping both the environment and often, the perception of the marketing itself.

In Summary

So, what channel is best for marketing? The answer, as always, is to utilize all available tools at your disposal and not rely on one or two channels. In particular, whilst Direct Mail may appear old fashioned and expensive the indications are that there are still great results to be had