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Direct Mail is Alive and Kicking

While Direct Mail volume has been slowly declining 1.9% YOY since 2005, it is by no means dead.

The report of my death was an exaggeration.

Mark Twain

According to the 2016 DMA Statistical Fact Book, Direct Mail still makes up 57% of the total mail volume (almost 86 billion pieces) in 2015. And, while volume is down, spend was up 2.9% to $46.8 billion. That represents 30% of all direct and digital spending and is 20 times greater than spending on email! (2016 Annual Outlook: What to Expect in Direct and Digital Marketing, by the Winterberry Group).

With that kind of cash being spent, it’s clear that Direct Mail is still quite relevant in the direct marketing mix and is often the anchor of an omnichannel marketing approach. Even spending on the data needed for direct mail increased in 2015 by 4.3%, making it clear that direct mail is still a vital marketing channel for business. How much life is there in direct mail? A surprising amount, it turns out. Response rates for direct mail are still very good 1% for prospects and 3.7% for a house file, depending on the format of the piece (according to the DMA 2014 response rate report).

And it’s not just about response rate. Leads from direct mail are one of the best values available to marketers. According to The Marketer’s Howto (and Whyto) Guide to using Direct Mail , one major direct mail campaign by the USPS yielded an average cost per lead is $11, resulting in an ROI of 107%.

3.7 %

Response rate for house file

(Source: DMA 2014 response rate report)



Return on Investment for campaign

(Source: The Marketer’s Howto Guide to using Direct Mail)


But Isn’t Email Killing Direct Mail?

Email, as would be expected, has a lower cost per lead at around $1. But as email marketing has exploded, the filtering of email has gotten far more advanced. An unbelievable amount of email never even reaches the inbox of the intended recipient and only a fraction of email that does hit inboxes gets opened. Gmail one of the most popular email platforms automatically filters most email marketing campaigns out of the primary inbox. A huge percentage of those filtered emails end up in a spam folder and then are automatically deleted without the user ever viewing them.

To say that most people’s inboxes are overflowing with unread email is an understatement. The average American office worker receives 121 emails a DAY (Radicati Group). That’s just overwhelming and it’s hard to get your message heard over the crowd. Direct mail, on the other hand, doesn’t have so much competition. The average household in America receives only 15.2 pieces of mail per WEEK (2015 USPS Household Diary Study). This gives marketers an excellent chance for their offer to be seen and, maybe more importantly, TOUCHED before it’s relegated to the recycling bin.

The Direct Mail Edge

There are many reasons to integrate direct mail into your overall marketing strategy. Here are a few of the biggest advantages that direct mail can offer you, as a marketing professional.

  • Targeting your customers is a breeze.

    With the data that is available today and with all of our tools to create fantastic variable driven campaigns, you can deliver a beautiful mailpiece to the right customer at the right time with the right offer. 
  • It is very measurable.

    It is unbelievably easy to measure results from a direct mail campaign based on the call to action in the offer. The more data you have, the more effective and targeted your campaign can be. That's a recipe for increased ROI.
  • It is trackable.

    By utilizing USPS track-n-trace technology with IMBs (intelligent mail barcodes), we can track the delivery of your mailpiece from origin to household. This allows you to followup with further communications in a timed and timely fashion.
  • Mail is private and secure.

    Compared to email and other online methods, physical mail is still quite secure. Mail and mailboxes are protected by some pretty tough federal laws and your computer won’t get any malware from direct mail.
  • Mail is tangible.

    While it is clear that digital marketing is growing fast due to the growth of the internet, there is something to be said for a physical piece arriving in an individual’s mailbox addressed to them personally. There’s a wow factor with physical mail that’s just not there with email. The recipient has to touch it and physically interact with it even if it’s just for as long as it takes to recycle it. That tactile experience leaves an impression.
  • Mail has become digitally interactive.

    Your physical marketing can now cross over into the digital space! Mailpieces can include a personalized URL or a QR code, allowing the user to interact with the web right from their smartphone.
  • Mail drives web traffic.

    In our own experience with customers, we are seeing web traffic increases as a result of direct mail delivery. We’re getting their message and brand in front of new audiences who then go online to learn more.
  • Mail has incredible reach.

    Everyone has a physical address! Email addresses change all the time and some people don’t even HAVE email addresses. But almost anyone can be reached through a direct mail campaign.


of recipients read or scan their mail daily.

(Source: USPS 2015 Household Diary Study)


The Lasting Impact of Direct Mail

The bottom line is, if you are not using direct mail in your marketing efforts, you are missing a huge opportunity! According to the USPS 2015 Household Diary Study, 60% of recipients read or scan their mail daily. Checking the mail and sorting it is part of an ingrained, daily, cultural ritual. Just think of the impression that a postcard or letter could make on someone who even scans their mail before they throw it away? Perhaps you only make an impression, but just that impression is important. The timing of that particular offer may not be right, but the longer term impact of the impression that is made could tip the scale in a future transaction.

With a lower lead cost than other marketing methods, and with the growing costs of search and paid ad costs, it’s time to reconsider direct mail as a viable addition to your marketing budget. Mail campaigns can now be executed “ondemand” any time of day or night. With fast delivery and shipping throughout the U.S., you can see results in less than one week.

So if you need additional sales (and really, who doesn’t?), there’s really no better way to drive revenue than through a well thought out, targeted direct mail piece with a compelling call to action.

Ready to get started using powerful, beautiful, targeted direct mail pieces to your target audience with the push of a button? Give us a call today, and we’ll show you how. Get the leads you need and the tools you want with Varispark.

Have questions? Ready to get started? Contact us today!