Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mail Just Won't Die!

Years ago, industry forecasts predicted that the rise of the Internet and email would eliminate the need for direct mail.  Now that email has become ingrained into society, should we prepare for life without daily visits from the mail-truck?

Definitely not.  Last year, the United States Postal Service delivered 203 billion pieces of mail – an average of 3.9 billion per week – to 134 million addresses.  This is almost six-billion more pieces than in 1998.  Old-fashioned, “snail-mail” generated $75 billion in revenue in 2008 for the USPS. 

Direct mail is still the marketer's most widely used tool.  In fact, direct mail is the media of choice for marketers to drive people to their website.  Why?  Because it is still the most selective, scalable and measurable form of advertising.

But that is not all.  Email, while typically cheaper and faster than traditional mail, has its limitations, such as lower response rates (versus direct mail), deliverability issues with more sophisticated spam filters and image blockers, the need to find reliable list sources, stringent CANSPAM policies, and size limits and after all, not everyone has email. 

We recommend a multi-media approach, where budgets allow.  Statistics show that campaigns using both print and electronic mediums boast higher response rates.  We proved this out most recently with a B2C baked goods client.  In an effort to save their way to success, they decided not to mail their catalog to their customer base, instead relying solely on email communications during their 2007 holiday season.  The result?  A significant decrease in the year-over-year customer retention rate, and disappointing sales during their critical holiday period.  Upon our review and recommendation, in 2008 they mailed their current and lapsed customers, in addition to the email blasts.  This strategy yielded a 72% increase in the retention rate.  And in a down economy, sales were up significantly.  The ROI on the customer mailing was at 250%!  Was cutting out the customer catalog mailing really a good idea? 

The bottom line is that 88% of marketing experts use more than one medium to generate results (DMA – Integrated Marketing Media Mix Report).  And companies that sell from catalogs attribute 44% of their sales to their print catalog mailings.  The 2008 Catalog Report from the DMA's Statistical Fact Book reveals two key facts:

·         The number of catalogs mailed continues to increase year-over-year despite the web and rising print and postage costs

·         100% of respondents had a website, but only 11% considered them to be their principal order drivers.  That means success requires more than an, “If you build it, they will come,” mentality.

The conclusions that can be drawn from this are that the big catalog companies (who consequently know more than anyone else about effectiveness and efficiency) are not eliminating their print catalogs for a reason.  Knowledgeable direct marketers are using multi-media and know that they cannot rely on email and paid search alone.  And no, direct mail is not dead!


Digg It!   DZone It!   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Reddit   Del.icio.us   NewsVine   Furl   BlinkList   Facebook