How printers can capitalize on the power of direct mail

With the help of technology and new ways to store, sort and analyze information, buying and selling services and products was transformed throughout the 60s and 70s. Civil rights, the women’s movement, anti-war and environmental movements challenged advertisers and marketers to rethink how they connected with consumers. In the late 60s, growing consumer data made the mailbox an ideal opportunity for American advertising executive Lester Wunderman to study them and their changing interests. In fact, it was Wunderman, widely considered the creator of modern-day direct marketing, who coined the term: “response marketing” and later “direct marketing.”
By the 1980s, money spent on direct mail averaged 3% higher than the amount spent on national advertising! In 1980, direct mail accounted for $7.6 billion in total advertising in the US – by the end of the decade it accounted for close to $22 billion. About 106 billion pieces of third-class mail passed through the U.S. postal system in 1980, and by the end of the decade that reached 160 billion. In 1989, scientific concerns about global warming made national news. In the book 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth ‘Stop Junk Mail’ was #1 on the list.
Direct mail was abandoned in favour of digital solutions and even greater amounts of customer data – no postage required. But overflowing inboxes and digital interruptions have decreased our attention spans – and our ability to generate and convert leads. Most recently, direct mail has seen a resurgence through multichannel campaigns founded on the psychology of marketing and behavioural science – engaging a new generation of print and business buyers.
Direct mail boosts conversions. Today, direct mail response rates are on the rise – averaging a whopping 4.4% compared to email’s rate of 0.12%. When combined with digital email, printed mail boosted conversions, according to Canada Post, and was better at driving consumer action than just using one or the other. Direct mail plays a premium role in the buying experience expected by today’s generation of print and business consumers. They expect to interact and/or purchase at any time, from anywhere, using any device – even their watch! The ability to mine, curate, present, share and manage data has become vital to your print business’s growth. 
Direct mail is engaging. Customers will pay more for a better customer experience and are four times more likely to jump to the competition when a problem is service-related instead of product or price-related, or if they feel poorly treated. Providing a quality and uniform omnichannel experience that seamlessly blends the offline physical world with an online digital one, increases brand awareness, loyalty and excellence. Integrated direct mail and digital campaigns boost attention spans – people spend 39% more time engaging in direct mail versus digital campaigns alone.
Direct mail boosts brand recall. Providing a multi-touchpoint, engaging and relevant omnichannel experience becomes a brand-showcasing opportunity at every step of your customer’s buying journey. From your website to your invoice, from your digital campaign to your direct mail campaign, your brand is front and centre. Salutations, naming conventions, logos and taglines all leave an impact on the customer experience – however subtle – positive or negative. Direct mail is now considered a premium channel and an integral part of the customer-acquisition process. Highly personalized and customized direct mail engages today’s buyers with a memorable brand experience. Adding textures and finishes like embossing, debossing, raised ink, foil or glitter teases people to do more than just see print. It compels them to touch it – and remember it.
Direct mail is powerful. The digital landscape has changed the way print is perceived and purchased. Buyers today respond to information that catches their attention in less than five seconds! Designers are looking for ways to transform their digital vision into a long-lasting and memorable physical one. Marketers are mining data to provide a hyper-personal customer experience. Print and marketing services providers have the power to shift mindsets and help every one of these buyers get what they want by exposing – and capitalizing – on the power of direct mail.

Joanne Gore
Joanne Gore is a B2B marketer who’s passionate about print and has spent the last three decades helping companies maximize their marketing and communications efforts. Founder of Joanne Gore Communications, she helps companies tell their story to a new generation of print and business buyers. Email: Follow her on Twitter: @joannegore121

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