The 2017 DMA Response Rate Report is the first edition of the annual study since the Direct Marketing Association rebranded as the Data & Marketing Association. The introduction to this year’s report concludes with a succinct statement: “Using data to understand the customer you are talking with is imperative. Because if you don’t know who you are talking with, then you’re just talking.”
The 2017 DMA Response Rate Report Overlooks Measuring Multichannel Opportunity
Judging by the readership of our annual post about the DMA Response Rate Report, we know our subscribers are eager to benchmark their efforts against the industry when it comes to response, and many become subscribers after seeing what SpeakingDIRECT has to offer. We think that’s because we know our readers, and we do far more than just write 500-word posts two or three times a week.
Because we do more than “just talk,” we know that like most research, the report should be considered directional. We’ve learned it’s important to understand the methodology and terms used in the report to be sure we’re providing clear insight that helps clients drive the highest response possible for their campaigns across channels—and insight into how multiple channels complement each other. That’s one thing we’d like to see in future research from DMA. We hope this will come from DMA’s new “Structured Innovation Identity Council,” which is said to be focused on cross-channel attribution. Look for more on that subject in an upcoming article.
The Staying Power of Mail
The 2017 report says, “Email ROI remains king of the digital mountain.” Despite frequent predictions of its death, email is cited as the most used medium in all campaign types. The report states that 50 percent of marketers surveyed plan to increase their email usage in the coming 12 months. As in previous Response Rate Reports, the news about direct mail usage is best described as, “good news that’s expected to fade but never quite does.”
Direct mail continues to show strength in many areas, despite slipping from second most used media type in last year’s study to third in 2017. To quote the report, “As in past studies, it produces the best response rate, but at a cost: it has the highest CPA of any medium.” While 19 percent of survey respondents plan to decrease their usage of direct mail in the coming 12 months, the DMA is quick to remind readers the annual predictions of decline for direct mail are never fully realized.
Once again, direct mail response rates rank stronger than digital channels, sometimes exponentially: at 5.1% for house lists and 2.9% for prospect lists, mail response rates consistently exceed the 2% response rate of all digital channels combined.
Social Media Marketing is Growing Up, Especially for Consumer Products
As IWCO Direct’s forays into direct mail campaigns combined with a digital overlay have shown, social media’s star continues to rise. This year’s report ranked social media as the second most used channel with the largest year-to-year increase since 2016 (from 47 to 69 percent). As our clients have proven when combining direct mail and social media, it’s especially effective in B2C campaigns.
But regardless of your audience, multichannel marketing is becoming the new norm. As we observed last year, it’s common for organizations to utilize multiple mediums in their marketing efforts. The 2017 DMA Response Rate Report shows marketers using an average of 3.4 mediums, up from 2.7 in 2016. More importantly, only 11 percent of those surveyed reported using only one medium. Seventy percent of the marketers surveyed use three or more channels, up from 52 percent in 2016.
Hopes for the Future of the Response Rate Report
We’ve focused primarily on email and direct mail in this post, but future articles will cover other channels and highlights of this year’s report. As mentioned earlier, we hope next year’s report—or perhaps a supplement to this year’s information—will address how combining channels like email and direct mail or direct mail and social media drive a higher response in both channels.
We’ve helped our clients across multiple industries and markets realize those gains with repeated testing. Want to learn more about how to increase your response rates? Contact me here.
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