[Posted by Ed Hadley
Senior Marketing Manager, Neolane, Inc.]
While there’s plenty of ongoing discussion in the marketing community about the death of email, I never hear anyone talk about the death of direct mail. Is that because it died long ago?
Many critics would say yes. Others would argue that the final nail in the coffin is the U.S. Postal Service’s $3 billion cost-savings initiative, which will eliminate next-day delivery for first-class mail and periodicals. By getting even slower, they’d say, direct mail would surely have no place in an age of instant gratification.
But wait a minute. Before ringing the death knell, consider this: the third annual Consumer Channel Preference Study recently revealed that 50 percent of consumers prefer direct mail over email. Moreover, one quarter of respondents found direct mail to be “more trustworthy” than email. Could direct mail be alive and well?
There’s no question that with the rapid proliferation and adoption of digital channels, real-time marketing is king. However, it appears that in today’s on-demand, always-on world, people enjoy taking a moment to open a piece of “snail mail” every once in a while.
I’m reminded of the fable of The Tortoise and The Hare. If direct mail is the tortoise and digital channels the hare, slow and steady can win the race—sometimes. That is, direct mail can be effective in certain situations. While it’s clearly not suited for time-sensitive campaigns, what about using it to reach contacts for which you don’t have an email address? Or how about segmenting customers that didn’t open your renewal email campaign, and sending them a follow-up direct mail piece? Our customers are generating great results using direct mail tactics that are highly personalized, relevant and measurable.
No, direct mail isn’t dead. Overall volumes may be declining but I believe that direct mail has found new life by being used more selectively—and intelligently—as part of cross-channel marketing strategies. Give it a try; you might be pleasantly surprised with the results.
What are your thoughts on direct mail?