The Reports of the Death of Direct Mail Are Greatly Exaggerated

A couple of years ago I proposed a book update to one of my publishers. I had written a book on direct mail marketing back in 1992 and, obviously, things have changed quite a bit since then. Not surprisingly, as I began my research, I discovered that the direct mail landscape had changed quite a big to accommodate–and capitalize on–new media. I found that my personal belief that traditional direct mail might be seeing somewhat of a resurgence was right on. Effective marketers were beginning to seize upon the ability to communicate in a less-cluttered space. For example:According to marketing firm Epsilon Targeting’s latest annual Consumer Channel Preference Study, direct mail continues to be the most preferred delivery method over other communication options. The study was done in 2012 and found that 6 out of 10 Americans report they “enjoy getting postal mail from brands about new products.”

Another study done by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) in 2011 showed an uptick in traditional direct mail expenditures in 2011 over 2010 of 4.6%; these expenditures rose to more than $50 billion in 2011. The DMA is predicting continued growth of 2.4% over the next two years.

While these stats may initially seem a bit surprising, upon further consideration, they really make sense. In fact, if you think about your own interactions with both your traditional and online inboxes you would probably agree that your email box is much more cluttered these days and your “snail mail” box is much less cluttered. And, guess what? Savvy marketers are noticing this as well.

In reality, very few media options every entirely “go away.” They are simply augmented by new communication tools that provide us with an ever-increasing array of opportunities to connect with key audiences.


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