Four Points About Direct Mail’s Usage and Effectiveness

September 18, 2019

Although many marketers are either decreasing their investment in direct mail or have never budgeted for it at all, others are still finding value in the channel. So, while email and social media are the most frequently used channels for marketing campaigns, more than half (56%) of marketers continue to use direct mail, per a multichannel marketing benchmark report [download page] from Demand Metric and PFL.

Here are a few points about direct mail from the report.

Reaching Target Audiences

Next to events, direct mail that is integrated, branded and/or personalized is considered one of the most effective channels for reaching target audiences. More than three-quarters (78%) of the almost 600 business professionals surveyed say that personalized direct mail is either effective or very effective at reaching target audiences. To a lesser extent, non-branded, non-personalized direct mail is considered effective by 3 in 5 (61%) respondents, nonetheless putting it above social media (55%).

Per the report, three-fifths (60%) of multichannel campaigns are targeted at C-suite or executives – a similar finding to a separate study by NetLine, which found that most B2B marketing campaigns were aimed at a senior audience. Two-thirds (67%) of respondents say that direct mail is an effective channel for reaching these top-level individuals, making it the second-most effective channel, after events (72%), for reaching this particular audience.

Direct mail is also considered an effective channel for reaching end users (78%), sales and marketing (78%), and finance (70%) audiences, but only for finance does direct mail come out on top. For end users, 87% rate content syndication as an effective channel, while events (86%) lead for reaching sales and marketing audiences.

Most Frequently Used Format

Postcards (53%) and letters (52%) are the formats that marketers use most in their direct mail campaigns. These formats are followed by dimensional mail formats (non-flat pieces which have an element of depth to them such as boxes or tubes), which are used by more than two-fifths (42%) of respondents.

Although postcards are the most frequently used format for direct mail, they are not necessarily the best at representing the sending brand. Indeed, dimensional mail is considered to be far more effective, with 9 in 10 (89%) respondents saying dimensional mail is effective at representing the sending brand, compared to 6 in 10 who say the same about postcards.

Integration of Direct Mail with Martech

While direct mail existed well before the digital age, that doesn’t mean it misses out on the benefits of marketing technology. In fact, two-thirds (67%) of respondents say they have at least a moderate level of integration between their direct mail and marketing automation platforms.

As marketers are well aware of the perceived benefits of personalization, including increased engagement and conversion, 59% direct mail marketers who say they have a high or complete level of integration also report having a lot or complete personalization in their direct mail.

Response Rate Higher with Direct Mail In the Mix

When direct mail is included in the mix of channels used in a multichannel campaign, response rates are more favorable than campaigns that do not include direct mail. Some 69% of respondents report a good to very good response rate with direct mail as part of the mix, compared to 63% with campaigns that do not use direct mail.

Good or very good response rates are even higher when there is a high to complete level of direct mail integration (85%) or direct mail personalization (83%) in the multichannel mix. The report also found that ROI is also positively affected when direct mail integration and personalization are part of the mix.

The full report can be downloaded here. For more on direct mail, download MarketingCharts’ deck, The Benefits of Direct Mail Marketing.

About the Data: Results are based on a survey of 579 of business professionals (64% from marketing).

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