Direct Mail: Does it Work?

Let’s start by taking a step back and reviewing the difference between traditional Multi-channel Marketing, and Omni-channel Marketing.

Multi-channel is basically what it sounds like, using multiple media ‘channels’ to communicate with a target audience. Each channel is independent of the others.

Omni-channel is similar as it includes the use of multiple channels, however, it is focused around the customer, delivering an integrated brand experience. All the channels are connected together (sharing data with each other), providing a seamless experience.

Historically, direct mail has been disconnected from other media channels, and as digital media has taken over, physical media like printed mail and brick-and-mortar retail stores have started to look less relevant. So, is physical media still effective?

Direct Mail acts as a rising tide
Pitney Bowes’ conducted research to quantify the impact of direct mail. What they found was that “Direct Mail acts as a rising tide for all channels… it’s not about physical versus digital but rather the combination of the two driving the best overall performance”. For example, as they dug into the customer journey, it was revealed that many orders were placed by customers who had initially received direct mail, then searched for the company on Google, saw an online ad, and clicked through to the website to place an order. Had the direct mail not been sent, the customer may have never gone to the website, and the opportunity would have been lost.

According the InfoTrends, the media effect when combining web, email, and mobile with print, results in a 45% increase in response rates compared to a digital-only media mix. “Every touchpoint increases the opportunity for brand response”.

One needs to look no further than brands like Ikea and Canadian Tire who have adapted to the digital age, embraced omni-channel thinking, and continue to mail inspiration guides, flyers and catalogs to drive both online and in-store sales.1

This one-piece booklet style mailer provides the target audience with a nicely laid out, easy to digest informational piece that catches your eye much more effectively than a more traditional addressed envelope.
When integrating a postage paid, ‘returnalope’, the user can easily engage by tearing off the envelope portion, filling out the attached donor card, and dropping it into the mail with the postage already taken care of (no need to search for stamps!) By designing content into an eye-catching, single piece mailer as opposed to a multi-sheet mailer or letter in an addressed envelope, we have seen a significant increase in response rates and ROI.

Digital Overload
Managing our overflowing inboxes and pop-up notifications have decreased our attention spans and caused us to swipe and delete messages in the blink of an eye. Printed mail on the other hand, requires a tangible interaction for you to decide if the envelope should be opened.

Direct Mail is Data-driven
With demographic data and route segmentation tools at our fingertips, gone are the days of sending the same mass campaign to everyone. Selling a new furnace, or window replacement? You can target homes that are 20+ years old and instead of wasting money sending it to new homes that don’t require your services.

Print is Physical
Physical solutions enable brands to bridge the digital gap and engage customers with a more immersive experience. Brands like Amazon, Shopify and Netflix are using physical stores and ‘pop-ups’ to provide memorable experiences.2


1Incite, Ideas for Inciting Action, 2020, Issue 1. Canada Post.
2Graphic Arts Magazine, December 2019, this is-not your parents direct mail, Joanne Gore.

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