Print Mail: PRINT’S NOT DEAD! In Fact, Direct Mail is Very Alive.

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Print Mail: PRINT’S NOT DEAD! In Fact, Direct Mail is Very Alive.

direct mail blog - print mail
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) reported fairly recently that the response rate for print mail surpasses that of all digital channels — and by a huge margin.

According to this DMA research, direct mail generates a 3.7% response rate with a home list, and a 1% response rate via prospect list.

Paid search, email, social media, mobile and internet display combined only achieve a 0.62% response rate. Which means: direct mail outperforms all combined digital channels by over 600%.

Direct Mail Blog - Print Mail

Print Mail to Digital Comparison by the Numbers:

Here are average response rates, by channel, reported in the survey:

  • Direct Mail: 3.7%
  • Mobile: 0.2%
  • Email: 0.1% (for a prospect list);  0.1% (for home list)
  • Paid Search: 0.1%
  • Social Media: 0.1%
  • Display Advertising: 0.02%

How does print mail’s cost compare to other channels?  Print mail’s cost-per-acquisition is highly competitive. Direct mail averages around $19, which is on par with mobile & social media (each at $16-18), paid search (at $21-30), internet display ads (at $41-50) and email (at $11-15).

Do certain direct mail formats perform better than others?  Absolutely. According to the DMA study, oversized envelopes bring the best response rate at 5.0%, followed by postcards 4.25%, dimensional 4.0%, catalogs 3.9%, and letter-sized envelopes with a return of 3.5%.

How many channels are marketers using beyond direct mail?  Marketers prefer to continue to utilize multi-channel marketing. 44% of the research respondents use a steady three or more channels for their marketing efforts. In these instances, the most popular were direct mail, email, and social media marketing.

What Are the Key Opportunities with Direct Mail?

The study asked, why then – if direct mail performs so well, do marketers object to using it?

It was concluded that marketers state their biggest problems with print mail are: Cost, effort to send it, and difficulty with tracking ROI.

Let’s address those main objections in order:

  • Cost would really only be a problem if the marketing campaign doesn’t prove ROI positive.  If your direct mail is creating leads, and those leads turn into opportunities — and those opportunities turn into enough sales to exceed your investment in the campaign, then how is cost an issue? Maybe there is too much effort going into tracking? Maybe there is a need for a better direct mail offer? (We can help with these.)
  • If finding a way to send direct mail is too difficult, bear in mind that your commercial printing and mailing need not be strictly geographically restricted.  Because of the vastness of today’s technology, many businesses choose to work with an agency who is able to scout and source the best value. This opens a whole nation of possibilities to send out the right campaigns.
  • If the trouble is with tracking the results of your campaign, we’ve got good news for you. We offer tools to help your company track returns on your print and digital campaigns. If you’re not already using a service to track returns and generate more leads, you’re very likely leaving money on the table.

With many companies turning away from print marketing due to a lack of research and tracking, and turning to online-only campaigns, there is now much less competition in the mailbox for your prospects’ attention – which is great news for those who choose to continue with this highly effective medium. Less competition in the mailbox means your offer will be more likely to grab the attention of your prospect.  Additionally, the DMA has reported that response rates have increased over the past 2 years and are still on the rise.

With a good campaign, not only will you compete against fewer people for your prospects’ attention, but since response rates are also on the rise, you’re also much more likely to generate new leads.

For a list of the most recently published stats, feel free to reference the DMA website here.


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In Memory of Mark Keefe


July 18, 1959 - March 15, 2018

Friend, mentor and leader whose legacy will be remembered. Time will never erase the work you have accomplished here or the positive impact you have had on our lives.


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