When we think about physical mail, many of us tend to think “snail mail.” After all, compared to email, which can send long messages within seconds, the process of waiting several days to receive a message seems downright unnecessary.
This sort of thinking brought a powerful change to the marketing world. Companies shifted from direct mail, brochures, and paper ads – which used to be the standards of advertising – and into the digital realm. Online ads have become the norm, while companies have turned to email campaigns to contact and interact with their customers. There’s a strong chance you’ve received an email from most of the retailers you visit on a regular basis.
The proliferation of email ads has created a new problem. In the early days of email marketing, a company would stand out by taking advantage of the platform. Nowadays, most people have so many marketing emails in their inboxes that they don’t have the time or interest in reading them all. This results in recipients deleting these messages without so much as opening them, which doesn’t help businesses trying to run effective marketing campaigns.
The Re-emergence of Direct Mail
When email came onto the scene, many marketers cut off their ties to direct mail and jumped right into the digital realm. Direct mail was the out-of-date option – but that’s changing. The overload of emails is seeing direct mail coming back into the spotlight as a way for businesses to stand out from the competition and engage recipients.
So, what’s driving this shift? Part of it is the idea of personalization in messages. Customers feel special when they receive customized content. Online shopping has eliminated the need for person-to-person interaction, so personalized messages provide that specialized feel – and almost 70 percent of Americans find direct mail is more personal than email. That’s one point in direct mail’s favor.
Another point: Direct mail captures the attention of recipients. These messages are less overwhelming than the hundreds of marketing emails people receive, so many people are more likely to open direct mail and read it; an email once stood out in the crowd; direct mail now fills that role.
Even millennials, who spend much of their time on digital devices, find direct mail appealing. Roughly 30 percent of millennials think direct mail is more effective at getting someone to act – and the percentage surpasses the 24 percent who find email campaigns more effective. Appealing to this demographic will be critical to the success of marketing campaigns as more millennials become consumers.
Balancing Marketing Efforts
The pendulum may be swinging back toward the popularity of direct mail, but that doesn’t mean marketers need to abandon email as a strategy. Many shoppers prefer using online methods for making purchases, and email helps meet those needs. We already have a place for direct mail in our established marketing strategies.
Multichannel marketing has become the new best practice for effective advertisement and conversion campaigns. This model recognizes that consumers are active across several devices that all influence their shopping decisions, and marketers need to appeal to these shopping habits to have effective results. Such multichannel campaigns can have up to a three times higher level of effectiveness when compared with non-integrated campaigns.
Direct mail can fit right into those efforts when targeting potential customers through various angles. Since multichannel marketing is about targeting the specific needs of individual customers, you can use direct mail for the customers it best impacts, letting you tap into the market. Technological advances allow us to use the same data and strategies for customized email campaigns in direct mail, making it familiar to work with and even better for personalization.
Naturally, some best practices will work better for direct mail and others will be more suitable for email. Still, as the pendulum swings, we can expect to find equilibrium between the two methods that allows for more engaging and effective marketing campaigns.