Direct Mail Has Cross-channel Appeal

November 3, 2010

Despite the growth of the internet marketing channel, direct mail can still affect consumer purchase decisions, according to a new white paper from Experian.

8 in 10 Households Read or Scan Advertising Mail
Disproving commonly held notions about consumers throwing away advertising mail unread, in the “Direct Marketing Report 2010” Experian cites US Postal Service (USPS) research indicating 79% of US consumer households read or scanned advertising mail in 2009.


Breaking down advertising mail into three main categories, catalogs had the highest rate of being read (48%) and lowest rate of being discarded (19%). Another 13% of households looked at catalogs without reading them, placing catalogs’ scan rate behind credit card solicitations (19%) and all other (17%).

Forty-four percent of households read all other advertising mail, compared to only 28% which read credit card solicitations. About half of households (49%) discard credit card solicitations.

Catalogs Drive Online Business
Catalogs can serve as effective drivers of online business. According to another USPS study cited by Experian, consumers who received a retailer catalog spent 28% more on that retailer’s website than consumers who did not receive a catalog.


In addition, while an NPD Group study indicates 61% of consumers conducted online research before conducting holiday shopping in 2009, 35% used catalogs for holiday shopping research. Other popular holiday shopping research resources included TV ads (23%) and magazines (16%).

Catalogs Return 7x Investment
Experian research indicates in 2010, catalogs will return $7.34 in sales for every dollar spent creating them. In addition, catalog shoppers tend to be more qualified leads when they arrive at a website and are more familiar with a company’s products than online consumers who have not consulted a catalog.

Furthermore, consumers 55 and older prefer catalog and phone ordering to the internet.

Direct Mail More than Half of US Mail
Experian cites USPS data showing that 52% of all US mail is direct mail. The average US consumer receives almost 25 pieces of mail a week, and the USPS projects it will deliver 166 billion pieces of mail this year.

Print Still Leading Marketing Material
A solid majority of marketing executives are still producing the same types of material they have been for years, according to a recent CMO Council report. Results from “Mapping & Tracking: The Optimized Marketing Supply Chain” indicate print collateral leads with 84% of respondents producing it, followed by presentations (72%) and folders and handouts (66%).

In addition, 57% of respondents produce direct mail and 55% produce product documentation. Only 39% produce multimedia products, the most popular “new media” form of marketing materials tracked by the survey. The other two were POS display (26%) and demo software (25%).

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