Multi-channel marketers have been debating the lifespan of direct mail ever since the United States Postal Service revealed an accelerated drop in mail volume back in the early days of the recession. The debate is more relevant than it’s ever been today as cheaper, more efficient options spring up seemingly overnight.
But is direct mail really dying? Let’s examine the facts:
Irrelevant Monday Deliveries
In February, the United States Postal Service announced it will stop delivering first class mail on Saturdays starting this August. Now you may be saying to yourself, “One fewer day of mail, big deal!” Actually, it is a big deal.
In a recent Forbes article, Lisa Formica, president of a direct mail and advertising firm, shared the example of a retail marketer who attempts to time the delivery of a weekend sale direct mail piece. “Typically a marketer can get the timing down to a 3-day window where the early arrivals are delivered on Thursday, another large section delivered on Friday and then the back end delivered on Saturday,” she says. “In this scenario, those Saturday deliveries will be Monday deliveries and thus irrelevant because the sale will be over.”
Along the same lines, fewer days of first class mail delivery means more direct mail pieces in the mailbox, especially on Mondays. Whether this is actually a bad thing, however, has yet to be seen. On the one hand, more pieces could mean consumers will take time to flip through them to note anything of importance. On the other hand, consumers could throw them all away without a glance, whereas they may have examined a single direct mail piece momentarily.
Increased Digital Marketing Spend
A recent study conducted by Experian QAS revealed only 23 percent of businesses interact with individuals via catalogues. What’s more, data from the “Marketing Budgets 2013 Report” published by Econsultancy in association with Responsys, revealed 71 percent of businesses plan to increase their digital marketing budgets (email marketing, search engine optimization, social media investment, mobile marketing, et cetera) this year, while only 20 percent plan to increase their traditional offline marketing budgets.
So is direct mail dying? It’s still too early to say for sure. There are some who insist direct mail will always have a place in marketing, even if it is just for nonprofit fundraising efforts.
One thing is for sure, however: Multi-channel marketers must adapt their data to communicate with customers by other means. An email append service can match your current customers’ names and postal addresses to email addresses, boosting sales and reducing costs by marketing to your current customers via email.
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