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Debunking Marketing Myths Direct Mail Is Dead

Social media is sexy and direct mail is dead. If you take the advice of some, you’ll completely abandon all offline marketing efforts for digital campaigns that may look good but fail to deliver sales.

The reality is, direct mail isn’t pushing up daisies just yet. In fact, depending on your industry, it’s alive and well, and boasting an impressive response rate – about 1.4% vs. 0.03% for email per the Direct Marketing Association.

But as with all marketing, for direct mail to be effective, it must have a purpose and a plan. In fact, in many instances, it works best when included as part of a multi-channel marketing approach that includes various forms of targeted marketing touch points like email, social media, and live events.

The trick is to know your audience and to have a full understanding of how to reach them. But with 70-80% of consumers confessing that they open almost all of their mail, including “junk mail,” chances are, you at least have a shot of being seen. But how will you get them to act?

Direct Mail can deliver, if…?

Many people think of direct mail as an old-fashioned way of spamming an entire zip code of faceless consumers with a stale ad that has no chance of paying off.

But the truth is, direct mail can be very targeted, having the ability to not only be personalized, but segmented in several ways, such as by geography (think zip codes), age, household income, education, and family demographics (e.g. single, married, the number of children). And depending on your industry and the type of good or service you’re offering, you are touching people at a place they are most likely to be every day – home (or work, if you’re mailing to businesses).

But where most people get direct mail wrong is in their execution.

So, take a look at these direct mail must haves:

  • Have a strategy. Set goals and establish a strategy to reach them. While generally not as expensive as other forms of marketing, direct mail still costs. The more you mail, the cheaper it is to mail per piece, but use your targeting options to get to the right people so that you maximize your marketing dollars.


  • Develop a strong creative. While direct mail isn’t dead, stale ads of any kind are. The bar moves higher daily, and even offline marketing must go beyond standard templates to customized experiences.


  • Create content that converts. Having an intriguing creative only saves your mail piece from an immediate trip to the trash. The words on the piece must resonate with the recipient. To do that, you should know the buyer persona of the recipients and be clear in your messaging. Get to the point quick, and make the offer easy to redeem either online or in person.


  • Work with a good vendor. Sure, you can buy a list, do a mail merge, and send out postcards yourself. But some vendors have this thing down to a science and it’s a better use of your time and money, to leave it up to them.

We’ve got a few vendor recommendations for you:

Direct Mail should be part of your overall marketing strategy.

Look, if you’re still not convinced, consider the fact that even Google uses direct mail. And for those who’ve claimed their business listing on Google, you’ve probably received direct mail pieces offering discounts on their advertising services. If it’s good enough for Google…

Direct mail is still a viable option for your marketing tool belt. Just as technology has helped streamline and improve the quality of other marketing channels, it has improved the effectiveness and attractiveness of direct mail, especially when used as a part of a well-balanced marketing strategy, including both traditional and digital marketing initiatives.

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