Direct Mail Is Marketers’ Primary Promotions Channel

August 11, 2008

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Some 90% of marketers, agencies, and other suppliers of direct marketing services say they use non-catalog direct mail, and nearly half (46%) say it is their primary channel for promotions, according to a news study from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).


The inaugural “Direct Mail Best Practices, Benchmarks, and Strategies” report seeks to provide benchmarks on the use of non-catalog direct mail, convey best-practices, and analyze how organizations in various segments approach challenges.

“Companies still consider non-catalog direct mail a crucial element in their media campaigns. Despite enormous growth in the online channels, direct mail remains a key and integral component of direct marketing,” said Anne B. Frankel, DMA senior research manager.

Among other findings of the study:

  • Companies that send promotions using non-catalog direct mail spend an average of 46.9% of their company’s total annual advertising expenditures on the non-catalog direct mail channel. B2C companies tend to spend a higher proportion of expenditures on direct mail than do B2B companies:


  • B2B firms are more likely to provide a URL (84.4% among B2B firms vs. 78.8% among B2C firms) or an email address (62.6% vs. 48.2%), while B2C firms more often provide a toll-free phone number (75.9% vs. 64.4%) and a mailing address (57.6% vs. 47.6%) so they can be contacted for service or information.
  • Consumer firms and mid- to large-volume mailers are more likely to show both their names and addresses on the front of a mailing piece, while small and medium revenue companies are somewhat more likely to show both their names and addresses on the back.
  • Use of non-catalog direct mail as a main channel is more common among consumer marketers and companies in the middle and largest revenue tiers, while a primary reliance on commerce email is more common among B2B marketers and firms in the smallest and middle revenue groups.
  • Most of the companies that promote their products or services using non-catalog direct mail receive responses via the internet (93.7%), phone (79.5%), or through contact from an internal sales force (70.8%):


  • Use of this channel is likely to grow, as 44.1% of those respondents whose firms use this channel say that usage will increase in 2008 compared with 2007.
  • B2C firms are much more likely to use customer retention direct mail to send special and one-time offers.
  • B2B firms are much more likely to use customer acquisition direct mail to send newsletters and announcements, and are somewhat more likely to steer customers to an online site.

About the study: DMA conducted this survey in May 2008 via an email invitation sent to a list of approximately 50,000 marketers, agencies, and other suppliers of direct marketing services. The responses from the first 450 respondents who completed the survey were included for tabulation.

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