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Dove Direct Print & Marketing Blog - Direct Mail: Your Workhorse Model

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Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today’s post, “Direct Mail: Your Workhorse Model” revisits how well direct mail marketing fares against its digital counterparts. The idea of modernity in marketing concepts and strategies typically undermines traditional mediums versus the digital tools available for marketing today. Direct mail among others is lumped into traditional marketing’s bag of yesteryear’s glory. Not so fast!

While the overwhelming majority of B2B organizations are fighting to break through the advertising and marketing clutter, direct mail marketing continues to be that attention grabbing game changer. From Personalization to Millennial Acceptance, to Lasting Power, Brand Recall and more, direct mail continues to be an effective marketing tool in the age of all things digital, ultimately tied to the IoT (Internet of Things). That said, let’s dive into direct mail’s competitive attributes.


To begin with, lets set the stage to highlight what’s going on in the digital world. Led by Facebook’s inability to keep its users data secure, the digital world is under scrutiny for all social media channels ability to keep personal information secure. Add the fake news injections into the digital arena and we are now being challenged to accept the digital status quo. As a result, advertisers and marketers are increasingly looking to minimize risk factors associated with their brands visibility in questionable areas including fake news articles flooding the social media landscape. The following points of reference support the rising validity and strength of direct mail marketing.

Targeting Via Personalization

Direct mail’s personalization attribute is actually driven by digital printing technology, whereby the variable digital printing technique has the ability to target individuals by name, address, income levels, ethnicity, and if necessary various graphics married to a particular group.

The art of personalization is currently one of the top ranking marketing attributes that all forms of marketing tools are looking to take advantage of, from email marketing to digitized offerings. That said, direct mail goes a bit further in that mailing lists can also be designed to depict consumer buying habits, and when implemented correctly, provides a more targeted approach that will appeal to those interests.

Millennial Acceptance

In the not to distant past, Millennials were considered sub-par targeting not only for marketing strategies, but also companies were slow to hire Millennials. Fast forward to today, and a bevy of data is out there that points to Millennials as being the top demographic group claiming the highest disposable income metric. You may be surprised to learn how Millennials are responding to direct mail marketing.

The 18-34 Millennial consumer group actually prefers to learn about marketing offers via postal mail, over and above that of online marketing according to a national research survey conducted by ICCM. It also bears keeping in mind that Millennials are now being hired across all industry sectors, and in the event any marketing efforts fail to include Millennials, that’s a big percentage of disposable income targets possibly being lost. Direct mail marketing is the Millennials preferred choice to receive marketing offers.

Tangible Results

Millward Brown’s agency research points out that mediums that offer the capability for consumers to be able to touch and feel materials leaves a stronger emotional mark versus the digital formats. Emotive responses are synonymous in the retail world, whereby placing a product directly into the hands of consumers often times perpetuates a feeling of ownership, which is why a person test driving a vehicle often wants to purchase that exact vehicle, or have one configured exactly like the one they test drove.

When an advertising initiative can evoke an emotive or emotional response, it is capturing a reaction. Emotional responses are deemed a reaction to a particular intrapsychic feeling or feelings, accompanied by physiological changes that may or may not be outwardly manifested, but ones that motivate or precipitate some action or behavioral response. That in a nutshell is what marketing and advertising is all about; evoking a response, which leads to engagement. Direct mail marketing with all its latest technological tools including foils, metallics, raised lettering, embossing and sub-bossing provide consumers with a cutting edge look and feel that triggers behavioral responses.

Response Rates

The DMA Response Rate Report states that direct mail generates a 3.7% response rate compared to 0.62% generated by digital channels. DMA’s report also adds credence to the 1% Thin Theory postulate, which suggests that only 1% of the target market that receives a marketing message will actually engage, and to that end, a further 1% of the 1% will complete a purchase. There are other factors to consider when comparing direct mail to digital channel offerings, for one, the direct mail piece will not be deleted, or be changed, or moved out of the user pages as the days move forward.

Another likely reason behind the elevated response levels direct mail accounts for is the trustworthiness factor, which has become a major consideration against which all marketing and advertising efforts are being measured. Direct mail does have the propensity to elevate brand equity as a result of direct mail being trusted more than the digital marketing offerings.

Brand Recall

Brand recall, often referred to as ‘mindshare’ operate in the same silo. Advertisers, marketers and brands are in a continual duel for raising and winning brand recall outcomes, aka mindshare, for their products and services. Typically speaking, television was generally noted as the best medium to establish brand recall, and it may sound a bit surprising, but would you believe that direct mail falls into the top 3 mediums that generate brand recall?

Schullman Research Center conducted a survey among wealthy consumers demonstrating that direct mail is the third most effective channel when it comes to brand recall. The survey found that 62% of those surveyed named direct mail as their method to learn about brands in the last 30 days. Therefore, direct mail should be a marketing consideration for those organizations looking to target wealthy consumers.

The Preferred Choice

The DMA study also concluded that 33% of consumers actually expect organizations to communicate via direct mail. Conversely, these same set of survey respondents were also reported to have a negative view of brands who fail to offer a direct mail communication piece. Again, the marketing world is a blend of sorts, in that no single marketing tool or medium can ultimately drive enough ROI through a singular approach.

The question then becomes, can a brand afford to drop 33% of its intended market by opting to dismiss using direct mail marketing in their marketing mix? 33% is a target rich environment for any business to consider, especially since the top MBA programs teach that a 4% increase can be considered a great year. Therefore, it would make good strategic sense to ensure that 33% of those targets are reached via a direct mail communication as an addition to the marketing mix.

Business Friendly

The DMA Statistical Fact Book reports that direct mail is the number 2 choice of consumers as a channel of business communication. This report is in line with other report data such as Millennials, wealthy consumers and brand recall that indicates direct mail plays a significant role in marketing communications.

Communication messages lead to engagement and that leads consumers into the buying cycle or sales funnel. With direct mail communication being the number two choice among consumers, this represents more evidence that using direct mail in any marketing solution will undoubtedly produce better results.

Website Promotion

One of the most effective communication strategies direct mail provides is in its ability to direct consumers to the digital channels, such as landing pages, social media pages and even websites. That said, the Consumer Magazine Fact Book reports that consumers will visit a website 8% more often in response to direct mail over that of social media.

8% more may not sound like a significant advantage, however; when applying the math against a set goal, it can make a huge difference. For example, if a brand is targeting 250k consumer targets for their ROI goal, and you apply the 8% of those who have received a direct mail piece, that amounts to 20 thousand targets that will be included, and further more likely to visit the website or digital purchase point. How many brands can choose to opt out of direct mail communications with the probability that 8% of their target market may fail to respond?

Direct Mail and Digital

In today’s digital world, most all advertising and marketing initiatives point to a digital sales funnel where most purchase decisions are pontificated and engaged upon. Every single piece of marketing material across every medium is synonymous with pointing to a purchase release point. In a way, marketing communication is akin to a catch and release strategy, whereby the initial communication point captures the consumer’s interest, and then points them to another destination, in that the consumer is released from the initial point of contact.

Direct mail does exactly that. In fact, according to the USPS Direct Mail Stats report, direct mail closes the gap between the printed and digital world. QR codes, Personalized URLs, Augmented Reality and other digital technologies are the recipients of direct mail marketing efforts and should always be a consideration as part of the marketing mix.

The Net-Net

Direct mail marketing strategies are a proven marketing entity that should be a must-have for any marketing initiative. As the numbers from the various reports suggest, direct mail’s performance across a number of data sets imply that direct mail marketing outcomes can either raise the success numbers, or when left out of the marketing mix, most likely will endanger marketing efforts and miss the ROI mark. Direct mail is your workhorse that can deliver results! Happy Direct Mail Marketing Development!

Let’s have a conversation about direct mail strategies, printing, print software, transactional documents, variable digital printing, brand equity and unified marketing collateral during our next Open House. We invite you to join us on Thursday, April 26th, 2018, from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Let us show you how to improve your document processes to optimize your workflow, reduce your costs, and maximize your organization’s printing, letter shop and mailing capabilities. Dove Direct does have an official USPS certified bureau located within our offices that will save you time and money. And, if you bring us your files, we will create a demo file for you. For more information call Carla Eubanks at 404-629-0122 or email Carla at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Dove Direct, your Atlanta based print and mail solutions provider offers organizations end-to-end data, printing and mailing solutions: Data Management, Variable Digital Printing, LetterShop and Fulfillment, Fully Automated MLOCR Presort Bureau, Marketing and Production Management Support and Secure Data Life Cycle Management.

If you don't want to wait for the Open House, you can reach Dove Direct today by calling 404-629-0122 or use the contact form for Dove Direct.

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Leland Hicks is the CTO of MatterMax Media, a digital marketing agency that provides business strategy, web design, social media management and training.  He can be reached at lahicks@mattermaxmedia.com