Is “Snail Mail” Marketing Effective?

by | Feb 8, 2017 | BCS Management, Marketing

It’s not unreasonable to doubt the effectiveness of direct mail marketing. Considering the modern methods of digital delivery along with its potential to reach a specific group of people anywhere, direct mail can even start to seem antiquated by comparison. Add to the argument the ability to view reports of successful delivery and countless other metrics in email marketing platforms, the thought of launching a direct mail campaign could seem like sending a message in a bottle. However, the reports from The Data & Marketing Association, suggest the contrary.

  • Direct mail’s strong ROI of 15-17% is one of the highest reported and outranks those of most digital channels.
  • Direct mail’s overall prospect file response rates were 10 times that of email, which came in at just 0.1 percent.

The numbers clearly state a significant advantage for reaching audiences when utilizing direct mail campaigns. So why does that information seem counter-intuitive? Perhaps the increased intelligence of email marketing creates this perception for us. Or maybe our own experiences with receiving physical “junk mail” and poorly targeted advertisements play a part in how we view that method of delivery?

Maybe these factors hold some truth, but we like to believe that the increased effectiveness of direct mail can be attributed to smarter campaigns.

Know The Target

Literally. It helps to know the name of the person you’re sending information to. And if you have existing contact lists, ensure that the information is updated before sending. Depending on the industry, it’s not uncommon for a person to receive more than 100 emails per day. Yet a piece of direct mail will not likely arrive alongside 100 pieces of mail for an individual in one day, increasing the chances of reaching the intended person.

Content Counts

Almost any type of marketing campaign has one thing in common: a call to action. What should the reader do? But most importantly, what’s in it for them if they do it? While this may seem like obvious information as a basic principle of marketing, it’s easy for direct mail campaigns to center on clever design (or sometimes disguise). As a result, the messaging can lack clarity. While these methods are not mutually exclusive, customer benefit drives engagement.

The Big Picture

While numbers suggest that one campaign methodology is more effective than another, the best strategy will always be to use every tool available across traditional and non-traditional mediums.

Depending on the goal, the mediums can even be integrated to drive engagement on various platforms. For example, direct mail pieces that include coupons drive audiences to the website for online purchases. Conversely, emails that offer people savings through monthly direct mail pieces, which they can redeem in person, at establishments.

New Tools

Fortunately, intelligent tracking tools aren’t exclusive to digital media campaigns. According to the Data & Marketing Association, “variable printing” is becoming increasingly popular. Essentially, this technology tracks customers visiting sites online and sends them a piece of direct mail within 24-48 hours.


DMA Rate Report