7 Benefits of Direct Mail Marketing

June 12, 2019

Direct mail is a thriving marketing channel. The $44-billion industry has been on the rise for the past 10 years and direct mail marketing statistics show it’s only continuing to grow—by billions of dollars each year. Over 80% of marketing executives plan to maintain or increase their usage this year.

Join the smart marketers who are implementing direct mail into their marketing efforts. Here are seven benefits of direct mail marketing that you can set into motion today.

1. Customers Feel the Connection 

Let’s begin discussing the benefits of direct mail marketing with a little neuroscience. The fact that you can pick up, touch, and hold a piece of mail makes it more real to your mind than digital marketing. It leaves “a deeper footprint in the brain,” according to a study.

The research provided new insights into how the brain engages with these two marketing mediums. It proposed that there’s more emotional processing with physical material than there is with virtual. Scientists used Functional Magnetic Resonance Imagery (fMRI) scanning to determine how the human brain reacts to physical and virtual stimuli. These scans looked at the brain’s activity to see the regions most involved with processing advertising.

When participants viewed printed cards, scans revealed more activity with significant sections of the brain. Printed materials were more connected to memory because they engaged with spatial memory networks. The study also found that physical materials produced more brain responses associated with internal feelings. So the print ads were more internalized than the virtual content was. In other words, they made a deeper and more lasting impact on their recipients.

What Neuromarketing Tells Us About Direct Mail

The United States Postal Service conducted a similar neuromarketing study with the Center for Neural Decision Making at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. The study sought to gauge responses to physical and digital advertising. The results?

  • Participants spent more time with print ads.
  • Print ads triggered activity in the brain relating to value and desirability.
  • Participants had a stronger emotional response to print ads.
  • Print ads were easier to remember.

Direct mail campaigns required 21% less cognitive effort to process and the recall was 70% higher than that of a digital ad. This would indicate that we’re wired to respond more strongly to physical, printed messages.

Among the benefits of direct mail marketing, virtual media has specific uses, especially with targeting and interactivity, but there’s something extraordinary about a physical piece of mail. It generates more emotion, therefore it should also create more positive brand associations and aid in motivation.

2. People Love Receiving It

Do you like to check your mailbox each day? Most people do. In fact, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) reports that over 55% of Americans love to receive mail. And almost three-quarters of households look at some or all of their marketing mail (in addition to the bills, cards, and letters). That means there’s a pretty good chance your direct mail campaign will get someone’s attention, especially if you deliver an eye-catching piece.

Good for All Age Groups (Especially Millennials)

A Gallup poll revealed that direct mail’s a hit with people under 30 years of age. Almost 85% of Gen Y consumers take the time to look through their mail each day. Respondents said print marketing had fewer distractions than reading online material. Plus, they reported less eye strain and fewer headaches than they did when looking at a screen for a long period of time.

In the USPS white paper “Still Relevant: A Look at How Millennials Respond to Direct Mail,” 90% of those polled felt direct mail advertising was a reliable source. Compared to other adults, millennials are more likely to:

  • Scan their mail.
  • Organize and sort their mail.
  • Read their mail.
  • Show their mail to others.

If you want to market to millennials, direct mail is a proven winner.

3. Works Well with Digital

Direct mail is not a standalone marketing channel. It works well alongside digital to create an effective multichannel marketing campaign.

Multichannel marketing gives your customer a variety of ways to make a purchase. Over 70% of consumers say they’d prefer to connect with businesses via multichannel marketing. You could have a physical store, a website, and social media accounts that work alongside your direct mail print catalog. This allows you to maximize your opportunities and connect with your customers on various channels.

By merely adding one extra marketing channel to your direct mail, you’re increasing your revenue by 38%. If you add a third channel, the percentage increases to 120%. The more channels you add, the more success you can expect because each of the channels gives your customer another way of doing business with you. Around 50% of businesses today use at least eight marketing channels to interact with their customers. Imagine the possibilities.

4. Build Brand Trust

When it comes to making a purchasing decision, about 75% of consumers trust direct mail. In fact, they trust traditional advertising channels more than digital. Direct mail ranks behind only television advertising and print ads for its trustworthiness.

If you look at the digital universe, credibility oftentimes becomes an issue with low-quality content and a lack of authority. Even Facebook reported that it had severely overestimated how much time people had spent watching video ads on their network. For those advertisers who spent millions of marketing dollars with the mega-popular social channel, it was a startling and disappointing discovery.

Direct mail marketing has become more of a trusted choice and that’s why many advertisers are turning back to this classic marketing channel.

5. Direct Mail Can be Personalized

About 85% of consumers said they’d be more likely to open a piece of personalized mail. Roughly that same percentage of U.S. marketers saw measurable improvements because of personalization, with many reporting as much as a 10% lift in business results. Personalizing your direct mail marketing campaigns works. That’s why it’s one of the most effective benefits of direct mail marketing.

Mass Customization with Variable Data Printing

What is variable data printing? VDP is a type of digital print production that allows for mass customization. If you had 10,000 sales brochures to send, and you wanted to customize them to appeal to each individual recipient, you’d use VDP to accomplish it without sacrificing any time in production. For example, you could print location-specific information on each brochure. The suggested retail location would change based on where the recipient lived, with a referencing website URL and/or map with directions to a local store. Additionally, you could provide a coupon code that’s only valid at that location.

Here are a few more ways you can personalize your direct mail:

  • Add a name to the headline. This may seem like a no-brainer, but when you add a person’s name to the headline of a direct mail piece, you’re creating immediate interest. Plus, research shows your response rate may improve by as much as 135%.
  • Customize the envelope. Use special offers, time-sensitive deadlines, tempting teasers, and more on the outside of the envelope to get recipients to open your direct mailing.
  • Use personalized images. Did you know your brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text? Use that to your advantage with images that match your message. For example, a veterinary clinic can use an image of a dog to send appointment reminders to people with dogs.
  • Personalize based on previous activities. Use information from a customer’s past interactions with you to personalize a future offer. If you sold an iPhone to someone, it would stand to reason that they might want a compatible accessory for that phone.

6. High Response Rates and ROI

The DMA Response Rate Report says that over 5% of U.S. households respond to the direct mail marketing they receive. Compare that to digital marketing channels. Email receives a 0.1% response rate. Online display advertising is 0.2%. Social media is at 0.4%. Paid search has a 0.6% response rate.

Ultimately, you want your direct mail marketing campaigns to produce paying customers. There’s good news on that front. Direct mail carries a high return compared to other channels. According to the DMA, the direct mail median household return on investment is 29%. Direct mail is more expensive than running an online banner or paid search ad, but you’ll likely enjoy a larger ROI.

7. Trackable Campaigns

Naturally, you can’t follow your direct mail piece from one consumer’s house to the next, but there are some reasonable alternatives. Here are some tips for tracking your next direct mail campaign.

  • Unique phone number. By including a unique telephone number (or extension), you can determine how many people respond to your direct mail campaign.
  • QR Code. Add one of these optical labels to your direct mail piece so recipients can scan it with their smartphones to get more information from your website or complete a task like filling out a form on a landing page.
  • Website pURL. Create a personalized landing page that’s unique to each recipient.
  • Coupon code. When a customer uses a coupon code that you’ve provided, you know what campaign they’re referring to.


What Our Customers Are Saying

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