Technology has changed the way we reach audiences, but traditional marketing tactics aren’t dead yet. There’s one sexy media channel that was created in the 1800s that’s still outperforming many digital channels today: direct mail.
In 2017, the direct mail response rate was 5.1% compared to .6% for email, .6% for paid search, .2% for online display, and .4% for social media. Even more surprising? The response rate among people ages 18–21 years old is 12.4%.
While technology has changed over the last century, the way our minds process information remains largely the same. We remember what we engage with the most.
You can bypass commercials, ignore digital ads, and mass delete emails without opening them. But the physical presence of direct mail requires you to interact with it in some form. Whether you read it in detail or walk it to the trashcan, you hold it in your hand. You look at it. You engage with it.
While direct mail maintains a high response rate, it’s also one of the more expensive to execute. Costs include creative, printing, postage and buying a list (if you don’t have a list of your own). Here are four tips to improve the return on your investment.
1. Customize to specific audiences
Direct mail that has the person’s name on it and includes information tailored to their interests performs better. For example, a couple could be on the same mailing list but receive different content based on their age and preferences.
2. Complement with digital
After receiving a direct mail piece, the next step is usually a visit to the website. Include your URL for convenience. It’s also important that your website is up to date, easy to navigate, and has consistent branding so people know they are in the right spot.
3. Create a unique experience
A handwritten card or letter adds a personal touch and feels special. Bright colors pop in a pile of bland mail. Oversized envelopes get the highest response rate (37%). The key is to make your piece unique so it stands out and gets attention.
4. Include a promotion or coupon
Promotions and coupons are the best way to track results and measure the success of your direct mail campaign. They also give people a reason to hang onto the piece rather than immediately throw it away.
Advice from David Ogilvy
David Ogilvy is widely known as the father of advertising. Direct mail was his passion and his secret weapon. While many of us might be surprised by the recent data about direct mail performance, Ogilvy predicted its success. His wisdom still lives on today.