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Direct Mail is Back Baby!

Posted by Brian Jones on February 8, 2023

Remember the early 2000’s???

The Internet was still emerging… email marketing was new and exciting… digital ads were popping up at every click… social media was exploding… video content was all the rage… and even those unsolicited SMS messages were kinda curious (-- in an irritating sorta way).

Boy, those were the glory years for us marketers.

But today, after 20+ years of online ads and emails, things are changing — and we must change...

After a non-stop deluge of “CLICK HERE,” “BUY NOW,” “LEARN MORE,” ….”JOIN,” “SIGN UP,” “DOWNLOAD,” “SUBSCRIBE,” “TRY,” “GET,” “GRAB,” “TAKE,” “CLAIM” “ORDER,” “SAVE,” “ADD” — and on and on and on.

…. the consumer's long, electronic online love affair has hit a rough patch. iStock-1330216365

These days, online ads bounce off their screens like so many bugs off a windshield.

In some circles, you'll even hear our precious email referred to as “junk mail.”

But why? What happened? What is going on?

Well, we make it so easy for people to see our messages, right? That's our job. Anywhere they look now — their computer, their laptop, their streaming device, their tablet, their e-reader, their phone, etc. they see our ads.

Well, that’s exactly the problem.

Consider this: As of last year, the average consumer was exposed to upwards of 10,000 digital ads per day – that’s TEN THOUSAND ads. In a single day. Hundreds per waking hour.

3_31-300x280So, now you start to see the issue. And you can understand how it all might wear on a person.

Especially when you consider that the vast majority of these messages are cold and impersonal, pushy and persistent (they follow you around the web for Pete's sake). But so many of these ads don’t use a first name (or last), they don’t know me, they don’t know my pain, they don’t know my problems or my challenges. And thus, don’t deserve my time.

the average consumer is exposed to

upwards of 10,000 digital

ads per day

Now – and maybe this was inevitable - online marketing seems to be going through a “down” cycle. As we’ve seen in other industries -- what’s in one year becomes an afterthought the next.

So, what does that mean for us marketers here at the front end of 2023?

Well after a couple decades of electronic overload, digital burnout is clearly creeping across the marketplace.

Banner blindness (the phenomenon where people don’t even see, let alone, engage with an ad, is rampant). Can we really expect the average consumer to process 10,000 digital offerings a day? No, and actually they really only “see” a fraction of those, and acknowledge a small fraction of those (yes, even the ones they’re interested in). It’s just way too much to keep up with.

But it’s not all gloom and doom.

No. There is a silver lining to all this madness.

And to find that silver lining, just turn your head away from your computer screens and look out your screen door.

Right outside that door is your mailbox.iStock-1405086495


Yes, the real, physical, tangible, touchable, tubs of mail that go through the U.S. Post Office are really gaining momentum these days.


Glad you asked. We did a little digging and found a few reasons for this "mail" movement.

  1. Millennials and Gen Z have an affinity for "personal" (they like to call it bespoke) marketing material. Besides, they’re starting to spend less of their free time online. Plus, 1970s and 80s nostalgia (albums, cassette tapes, books, etc.) is big right now and this cohort is yearning for those simpler times.
  2. Digital marketing costs are steadily rising. The cost combined with the “banner blindness” is driving ROIs into the ground. There are simply better ways to invest your marketing dollars.
  3. Consumers are exposed to way too many digital ads, they’re numb. Around 75% of consumers admit that the number of ads they see on their screens is completely overwhelming.
  4. Technology has Improved - With direct mail, things like modeled mailing lists, printing on demand, variable data printing, hyperpersonalization, QR codes, augmented reality, and even scented papers are more accessible than ever before and make for a targeted, personal, and memorable in-home experience.
  5. Advertisers are increasing their direct mail spend to capitalize on this growing trend.
  6. Direct mail can drive readers to a custom landing page. Being able to deliver on a promise you made offline (and simplify the response/order process online) means higher response rates – in some cases double what it was a few years ago.
  7. Direct mail volumes have increased 34% since 2020.*
  8. ROI from direct mail can be as much as 30%.* Response rates on average hover around 2%-7%, which is twice what you’d get from email ads. And hyperpersonalized direct mail can deliver response rates that are even higher.
  9. Direct mail is physical. You can touch it. It can be handled over
    and over again by many different fiStock-1338099904amily members. And lots of people, especially the 50+ group (ideal for financial and insurance products) will keep a direct mail piece around for several weeks. Pieces with phone numbers, tear-offs, URLs, etc. will stay on refrigerator doors and or kitchen counters indefinitely.
  10. A whopping 98% of people visit their mailboxes every day.*
    And most of them read that mail immediately (a nice contrast to unopened and deleted emails, ad blocking, and online banner blindness)
  11. Post-pandemic, people want something more personal. By using first-party data, behavioral data, purchase history, etc. direct mail makes that connection.
  12. Direct mail is no longer a “secret weapon” reserved only for those “in the know.” Its benefits are becoming well known and it seems like everyone now wants in on the action.

Ok, there's a lot here. But the trend is real. If you need help with your next direct mail campaign, let us know. Or maybe you’re looking to improve a campaign you’re already running. Well, J&C has over 40 years of direct response experience and would be happy to learn more about your company and your objectives. Contact J&C today. That way, we can give you an honest assessment of how direct mail can work for you.

* Data provided by Competiscan, November 2022

Topics: Direct Marketing, Direct Mail, Creative

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