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Where is Direct Mail Headed?

Posted by Brian Jones on December 19, 2022

You were there.

So you know…

2022 was another year of Zoom calls… Nexflix binges, and lots of UberEats.

So what's 2023 going to look like?

Well, just think back for a minute --- even before COVID, the typical American worker was averaging anywhere from 3 to 8 hours per day simply reading or writing email, according to an Adobe study. And even after the rollout of the vaccine as things open up, many workers predict they’ll still work remotely, and nearly 28% of them say they’ll be fully remote in the not-too-distant future, according to an Upwork survey of more than 1,000 hiring managers and chief executives.

Many experts say that by 2025, over 35 million Americans will be working remotely. That’s almost 17 million more than pre-COVID numbers.


And even when (or if) things get back to “normal,” our screens aren’t going away. The question is, as our digital dependence increases and email inboxes continue to overflow (which is why some people now refer to email as “ junk mail”) and online banner blindness soars to an all-time high…

How are marketers supposed to stand out and get their message across?

Well, as screen-time fatigue sets in, people will naturally be drawn toward connections in the real world — away from their laptops, phones, and desktops.

Enter direct mail. Direct mail is the perfect solution because it delivers a personal, tangible real-world alternative to consumers who are weary from digital overload. It's perfect because direct mail allows marketers to connect with customers in-person, in their homes – ideally, with a timely and relevant message and offer.

landingpageshero-directmailbestpractices-1At the same time, technology keeps improving. Today, direct mail marketing is often able to provide up-to-the-minute marketing metrics. This helps improve audience targeting and cut down on costs. Of course, direct mail also employs unique key codes, QR codes, or barcodes to track individual responses.

Marketers can also leverage innovations from the Post Office like the Informed Delivery feature, which lets residents view an email with scanned copies of the mail scheduled to arrive in their home that day. And because residents know exactly what the Informed Delivery email contains —content that’s directly relevant to them — they open it. They really seem to like the sneak preview. Smart marketers are capitalizing on this trend by including unique links to landing pages in their Informed Delivery messages or even videos about their current offer.

It’s All About the “Touch”

One of the best things about direct mail, however, is that it lets you deliver a unique sensory experience to your prospects and customers. The fact that people can “touch” your communication plays a big part in their buying decision. Vision and touch both influence a customer’s perception of your message, according to a report by IE University in Spain. Your direct mail package can stand apart from other marketers by offering an experience in ways the digital world cannot. Plus, today direct mail messages can include hyper-personalization as well as elegant physical touches like metallic foil, embossing, soft-touch, and even certain aromas to create a truly personal connection.

iStock-1338099904Screen-weary consumers have a new-found affection for personalized, relevant, physical mail.

Yes, Direct Mail Also Has Its Hurdles

Direct mail should play an important part in your multichannel marketing mix. But remember that it's not a silver bullet. There are paper costs… postage costs… list costs, etc. Still, the high return on marketing investment (ROMI) that direct mail provides makes it well worth the time, expense, and effort.

Here are a few other factors you’ll want to consider carefully:

  • Timing. How often should you be mailing? If you mail customers too often, they’ll begin to see your efforts as “stale” (I know what this is…) and “unnecessary” and cast them aside. Perhaps, try sending a postcard before the direct mail package. This helps “set up” the package so when it does arrive the reader is familiar with it (combined with Informed Delivery, it's a potent one-two punch). Also, adding an email after the package to non-responders helps give a nudge to anyone who was “on the fence.”

  • Lists. Having a clean, up-to-date mailing list is critical. The Post Office can help validate the names on your list to make sure they're accurate. Routinely doing database hygiene can make your direct marketing more effective, keep costs down, and help improve response rates.

  • Budget. You want to make sure your direct mail campaign is profitable. But getting carried away with lots of bells and whistles and spending more than your set marketing budget is a surefire way to derail that. Many marketers will opt for expensive papers and add-ons that can quickly blow a hole in their modest budgets. But veteran direct marketers know that a simple, unassuming package can work extraordinarily well. J&C has a client that uses a one-page, roughly 100-word letter and a #10 OE with an official teaser on it. That package was the best-performing package of the dozens they tested nationally in 2021. Simple can work.

"Vision and touch both influence a

customer’s perception of

your message"

The bottom line is, the time is right for direct mail. Consumers are tired of being tied to their computers all day and all night. Direct mail gives them a refreshing change of scenery and a welcome respite from their daily digital deluge. Plus in those conditions, if you can deliver a relevant, timely, beneficial message and offer, you will have a winning package on your hands for years to come.

Now if you need help putting your next direct mail package together, let us know. Or maybe you’re looking to improve the performance of a program you’re already running. Well, J&C has over 40 years of 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.

Topics: Direct Marketing, Direct Mail, Creative

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