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  • Leslie Horna

Are Digital Communications the New Junk Mail?

As consumers tune out online advertising and marketing, companies turn to direct mail



In 1998, the movie ‘You’ve Got Mail’ celebrated the ding that signifies a new email arrived in your email inbox. Email was new and messages were greeted with excitement and curiosity. Fast forward to 2020 where people search for ways to turn off sounds and prompts that notify users of new email messages simply because there are far too many emails and not each one commands immediate, if any, attention. However, you can recall your surprise and delight upon receiving a colorful envelope with beautiful lettering, a personalized greeting and an intriguing story that compels you to visit the website to learn more. This is direct mail, also known as snail mail.

Some may say that direct mail died with rotary phones, but the communication tactic can be much more effective than email marketing. “Direct mail customer response rates increased year over year by 43% and prospect response rates increased year over year by 190%” according to the Direct Marketing Association’s 2017 Fact Book. Email services often filter messages into Junk, Spam, or other infrequently accessed email folders to unburden inboxes. Consumers can even use ad blockers to block online distractions, making it hard for marketers to relay messages.


Consumers get so much email these days that services like Slack are used to help streamline the number of email accounts and messages. Mail, just like with email, needs to be creative and personalized to capture the attention of the recipient. Direct mail companies suggest that the nickname "junk mail" came about because companies didn't customize the content they sent. Therefore, direct mail was often not something that appealed to the recipient.


Before starting your direct mail campaign, here are 5 best practices to help you prepare:


Target Audience List: Research zip codes, neighborhoods, and demographic and psychographic information to ensure you will reach the households whose interests and habits align with those of your company. If marketers don’t take the time to learn about the target audience, not only will the company not get the business, but you could offend the recipient and turn them off from the company indefinitely. For example, a 20-year old getting a postcard about menopause from a local healthcare facility demonstrates the facility didn’t invest the time to know their audience.


Creative: Direct mail is a great opportunity for consumers to touch and feel a company’s brand. The colors, typeface, shape, size, and materials used can make the piece stand out as well as introduce or showcase the company’s brand attributes to new customers. The copy included should speak to the target audience and focus on the benefit of the company’s offer/information to the consumer. It’s crucial to evaluate the piece’s design before getting too far along in the planning process. Custom or over-sized mail will be more costly to send and produce which could impact the number of households you target.


Call To Action: Similar to digital marketing, each piece of direct mail should have a call to action included. The ‘call’ prompts direct mail recipients as to what to do with the information sent to them. This could be calling to schedule an appointment, coupons to redeem in-store, QR codes, registering online for an event, among many other activities. This allows the company to track how many customers take advantage of the offer shared and how the customer heard about it.


A Keepsake: Companies may send a giveaway as the direct mail piece, which extends the life of the brand in the home. A to-go menu from a local restaurant can be hard to find when consumers are ready to order dinner, but a refrigerator magnet with the phone number and online ordering URL makes it ultra-convenient for the consumer. The stickiness of a company's messaging and branding is why catalogues are also making a comeback with retailers. Be sure to check with USPS on what products are permitted for mailing and to avoid damage during processing. Data shows that convenience drives conversions, meaning the easier it is to engage with a company’s product or service that adds value to the consumer, the higher the likelihood that consumer will become a customer.

Multichannel: Direct mail is one component of a company’s marketing strategy. Coordinate the mailing around other brand events such as media stories, community events, or social media/email marketing outreach so that the target audience receives additional encouragement to engage with your brand. Successful direct mail campaigns include multiple mailings interspersed over a few months to consistently connect with your target audience.


As you look to expand your company’s reach, trying unique tactics can yield the results you want. Don’t underestimate the power of direct mail. After all, what’s old is new again!


If you're considering direct mail marketing or need help identifying what tactics will help your company achieve its goals, schedule a complimentary consult with our team. The C. Change Consulting team brings over 20 years of integrated branding experience to innovatively address your challenges and needs.


#DirectMail #Marketing

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