Rumors of Direct Mail’s Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Here’s a statistic that will leave the Twitteratti and Blogosphere scratching their digital heads: direct mail volume increased 16% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2010 to 6.1 billion pieces in total, according to data from direct marketing intelligence firm Mintel Comperemedia.

At a time when most industry observers believe that Email and Social Media are rising up to replace Direct Mail as the best forms of one-to-one response marketing, this new finding (published June 3, 2010) gives letter shops, postal employees, and DM agencies a reason to “keep the faith” in a marketing vehicle that has reliably powered our industry for decades.

The report cites the insurance, credit card, and mortgage lending industries as the category leaders in this uptick of printed mail.

At The Weinstein Organization we’ve never given up on postal Direct Mail. As an Integrated Marketing agency we have augmented our Direct Mail strategies with digital response channels such as PURLs and Twitter that tailor the interactivity to the natural preferences of the individual, to increase the likelihood of response.

Direct Mail has inherent properties that can’t be duplicated by digital media. Direct mail is tactile—you can hold it, interact with it, and research shows that people spend more time with printed mail than with other media. You can’t “click away” from a Direct Mail piece. And Direct Mail lives in the one place that people still go to day in and day out: the mailbox.

The mailbox at a reader’s home address offers marketers unique identifying data that is stationary, definitive, and revealing. Our home address says something about our demographics, economics, psychographics, and is much more reliable than an IP address. And studies show that while people do take a break from their computers and mobile devices from time to time, going to the mailbox every day remains a constant behavior.

Statistics like these prove that no media is ever really “dead”; they may fall out of favor, or ebb and flow with the trends, but they never go away completely. Integration and innovation are the refresh buttons for postal Direct Mail. Content is still the response driver, strategy is the roadmap, and media is the vehicle. And in many cases, Direct Mail is still the best way to go.