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Is Direct Mail Dead?

We, at AlphaGraphics Say Definitely Not!

One of my salespeople had a conversation with one of her customers last month where she asked the customer whether they had thought about doing a direct mail campaign. The answer she got back was laughter. Why would anyone consider a direct mail campaign when you have email newsletters, a drop-dead website, a business FaceBook page, an active Twitter account and an ongoing blog? Why pay anyone to design a mailer, have it printed and pay postage to distribute it?

Here is a short print industry video to kind of illustrate the point:

I am not here to bad mouth Social Meda and the Internet. I, myself, have adopted all of the practices I described above and I believe that each of these items are a critical part of any company’s marketing arsenal. However, I believe that direct mail is still a vital component of a comprehensive marketing plan.

First of all, here are some of the discussion points that most people use to justify an email only approach:
-According to the Direct Marketing Association, a properly constructed email campaign returns about $45 per dollar of expense compared to $15 for direct mail.

-Admittedly, an email newsletter is cheap to distribute. No printing costs, no postage.

-There is a perception that the printed piece is hard on the environment, wasting valuable forests and energy costs to produce and distribute.

-A properly run email campaign will allow the issuer to obtain valuable analytics. You will know how many people opened the email, and how many people clicked on the enclosed links.

So what are the benefits of Direct Mail?

-Direct mail has almost a 100% deliverability factor. If a customer or prospect has changed their address, the Post Office will give you the new information. Most emails sent will have between a 33% to 67% undeliverable factor depending on spam filters and blocking. If someone leaves a company or changes their email address, there is no notification received with the correct information. EMailLabs did a survey in 2006 with company executives which asked the question: How significant a challenge is deliverability for your company’s email marketing programs? 30.5% responded that it was a significant challenge and 51.8% responded that it was somewhat of a challenge.

-Direct mail can support and enhance a great email program. Royal Mail, Britain’s Post Office, did a study and determined that an email marketing program supported by a direct mail program increased the effectiveness of the email program by 65%. Quite an improvement.

-Direct mail can stimulate web traffic. In today’s SEO world, the name of the game is to attract prospects and customers to your company website and/or to your blog. Sometimes the only way to get people to these online locations is through the printed piece.

-Direct mail can keep the company’s database current, including active email addresses. Mailers, with attached personalized url’s drive people to a landing page that has the customer update their data. I should note that the recipient will need a good reason to go to the website such as a gift certificate or a downloadable white paper.

-Believe it or not, there is still a big portion of the market that is not Internet savvy. There also needs to be a way to contact customers and prospects that opt-out of your email messages. Understanding the demographic targets of a company’s customers and prospects will allow the right choice on media to use.

-Most of the paper used in a printing operation comes from FSC certified forests. These are forests whereby the trees used in the manufacture of paper have been grown specifically for that purpose. Most of these papers also have a high mix of recycled content thus reducing the energy used in its manufacture.
John Jantsch, author of the book “Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide” had this to say about Direct Mail:

“…one of my favorite forms of advertising for the small business—direct mail. The reasons I like direct mail are pretty simple, but it all leads back to my prevailing principles when it comes to analyzing any form of advertising.

1. Does it allow you to specifically target your Ideal Prospect?
2. Does it provide a high return on investment?

Properly executed, direct mail offers a resounding yes to both of the above questions.”

He also wrote, “Few advertising mediums are targeted enough to offer the small business a high enough return on investment, but the primary reason I believe direct mail is the best choice for most small businesses is that you can start very small, test very quickly, and easily expand your efforts when you have a winner.”

He then goes on to discuss the ability to personalize direct mail and the need to have a great list, which is the subject of a later posting.

I leave you with some final statistics supporting Direct Mail. In 2009, marketers are estimated to have spent about $149 billion on direct marketing, which accounts for 54.3% of all ad expenditures in the country, according to the Direct Marketing Association. Measured against total U.S. sales, these advertising expenditures will generate approximately $1.78 trillion in incremental sales.

You can reach us at AlphaGraphics at the following websites:
Mesa 535 W. Baseline Rd., Mesa, AZ 85210 480-844-2222
Tempe 720 W. Elliot Rd., Tempe, AZ 85284 480-413-1900
Phoenix 8041 N. Black Canyon Hwy, Phoenix, AZ 85021 602-234-2944

Follow me on Twitter at: Steve's Twitter Account

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