04 May Cutting Through the Digital Noise: The Power of Direct Mail Marketing
This probably won’t come as a shock, but consumers are pretty uninterested in digital advertisements these days.
There’s likely more than one reason for that, but let’s be clear – in the age of COVID, people are more burned out on digital media than perhaps ever before. With nowhere to go in early 2020 and the constant ebb and flow of restrictions being lifted and reinforced, both adults and kids alike have been more glued to screens than we’ve ever been in human history. It’s been nothing short of alarming.
So in this season of digital disinterest, how are businesses supposed to market their products and services effectively?
Time travel. (Just kidding.)
Well, not literally “time travel,” but reviving a time-tested and proven marketing method – direct mail marketing – is the answer.
Does direct mail still work?
The short answer is, “Yes, direct mail still works.” There are a few factors that play into this.
First, studies have shown that more screen time leads to shorter attention spans. Advertising effectively to millennials requires especially targeted and attention-grabbing campaigns given the group’s penchant for quick scrolling through online media.
Add this point to the fact that we’re being advertised to on a near-constant basis. The average person sees literally thousands of ads a day outside their mailbox. As a result, we’ve all become a bit desensitised to them.
Moreover, direct mail marketing has been on the decline in recent years. While it may seem counterintuitive to “get in” on something that appears to be falling further out of style, it can actually be beneficial. This reduction of physical marketing mail translates to less competition for your customers’ attention.
We can’t get into all of them here, but there are a number of reasons why direct mail still has a place in the marketing game, including consistent (and higher) returns on investments. Some estimates suggest a 15-17% ROI while others tout a return of nearly 30%. Compare that to the inconsistent metrics returns from social media (that are different for everyone) and we’d argue there’s no contest.
Additionally, direct mail offers surprisingly higher engagement and response rates – as high as 9%. Meanwhile, email marketing response rates sit at a measly 0.5-1%. If you’re keeping score, direct mail is definitely landing on top here.
The Power of Direct Mail: What Makes It (Still) Work
There is one major reason why direct mail marketing continues to work (and in some ways, work better than digital marketing): Personalisation.
And while you can “personalise” emails, direct mail still comes out on top because it offers something email can never do: Tangibility.
These two things combined are what give direct mail the driving and enduring power it consistently wields.
Personalising Direct Mail
Direct mail is personalised in ways with which digital advertisements can’t compete.
Take, for example, the fact that many direct mail pieces are often literally addressed to recipients. This is the ultimate way to personalise a marketing campaign. Run-of-the-mill digital advertisements on social media or websites simply can’t be personalised in the same way, nor can “personalised” emails.
Speaking of “personalising” marketing emails, here’s what uber-marketer Neil Patel has to say:
“Every marketer thinks they know ‘personalisation.’ They slap a few [fname] brackets on their emails and call it a day. But we all know that’s not real personalisation. Using someone’s name at scale is bottom of the barrel personalisation. In fact, it’s just respect and common behavior. It’s a weak attempt that customers see coming from a mile away. Just because you’ve used their name doesn’t mean they will buy from you. Not unless you use real personalisation.”
Email vs. Direct Mail
Sending direct mail can help create a sense of personal connection that doesn’t translate through digital marketing because it’s tangible. Tangibility makes a marketing piece more memorable. If something is memorable, it elicits an emotional response.
Here’s what HubSpot has to say about the importance of direct mail’s tangibility:
“Four in 10 people enjoy checking their physical mailbox. It has an ‘emotional connection;’ plus, there’s the excitement of seeing if you got anything good. When’s the last time you were jazzed about checking your inbox?”
People used to grumble about their mailbox being filled with bills but thanks to online bill pay and paperless statements, that’s less of a concern these days. There is simply less in consumers’ mailboxes to compete with and when they get something worthwhile, it will keep their attention longer.
For this reason, consumers remember physical mail pieces and hang on to them longer than they might comparable marketing emails. In fact, studies show people will hang onto direct mailers for 17 days on average.
Consumers hang and pin these mailers in places they’ll see them to keep them top of mind – on the refrigerator, on their office bulletin board – so they can return to them later.
This excitement over receiving mail provides your team with a unique opportunity to be creative with your direct mail campaign. Excite and delight your audience by playing to their emotions.
Alarming Changes to Digital Advertising
Online advertising is undergoing alarming changes this year. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram are changing how they harvest data from iOS (Apple) users and how advertisers can utilise that information to target consumers.
Here’s the gist: Consumers using Apple products will soon have the option to “opt out” of being advertised to or being followed by a cookie trail in ways they haven’t been before. While this currently appears to be limited to iPhone and iPad users, but it won’t be surprising if Android goes that way in the future, too.
There are a lot of things to unpack in this news, but the reality is that every industry is about to experience a massive shift in online advertising over the next few years. But direct mail is remaining constant.
Your online advertising efforts may be hamstrung for a while, but implementing a direct mail campaign could help you rebound better than you’d imagined. Combining direct mail and digital marketing campaigns stand to massively boost your response rates and overall sales.
In a digital world, direct mail is still worth the time, energy, and money. Mail marketing campaigns offer your business a personalised, tangible, emotion-driving way to connect with your audience. It’s not just the statistics that make direct mail so powerful – it’s common marketing sense.