For many years our industry has had to live with the unfortunate term “junk mail.” It’s short and memorable, but also incorrect. Yet the term “junk” has stubbornly shaped the perception of direct mail for the general public. When people use the term, they typically refer to unwanted solicitations that are unrelated to their needs or interests and may not even be addressed to them. I even get the impression some marketing executives wouldn’t use direct mail at all if it didn’t have such identifiable and undeniable ROI.
In some respects it’s easy to beat up on direct mail. It’s not as new or glamorous as the latest social media platform. And as an industry, we need to do a better job promoting direct mail’s unique ability to acquire customers and enhance engagement and loyalty.
Direct mail has become increasingly sophisticated. It not only drives value for organizations through greater ROI, data indicates that direct mail remains an important channel for customer acquisition, engagement and loyalty. Some of the factors that tell us direct mail is not “junk” include:
- Technical advancements, such as full-color variable data personalization at reasonable prices, make direct mail even more relevant to its recipients than ever.
- Highly targeted mailing lists ensure consumers receive mail that is meaningful to them.
- Marketers and printers work very hard to be good stewards of the environment.
- Recent studies, such as the one conducted by Epsilon, indicate 50% of U.S. consumers prefer direct mail to email. This study also reported one-quarter of consumers find direct mail more trustworthy than email.
Perhaps as an industry we need to elevate the discussion beyond issues such as ROI for marketers, because today’s sophisticated direct mail is also having a positive impact on people’s lives. We see this almost daily in our clients’ direct mail programs. For example:
- Direct mail has been a key to opening the door to health and wellness programs that are helping people lose weight, stop smoking and get more active. This in turn is helping to lower our nation’s healthcare and insurance costs.
- Loyalty programs from retailers and airlines are helping consumers manage their money better, and direct mail is an important part of keeping consumers updated on the reward points they have earned and providing them with ideas on how they can be redeemed.
These are just a few of the ways direct mail is helping businesses and consumers be successful. As we head into 2012, it’s time we change the perception of direct mail to match reality. While all marketing channels are relevant and important, including direct mail as part of the mix is critical to the future success of leading marketers.
Subscribe via email to our Stevie® and Feedspot award-winning blog and get a fresh post delivered weekly to your inbox. We promise to keep it interesting, but you can easily unsubscribe if we don’t.