4 Reasons to Embrace Direct Mail in 2021

February 23, 2021  by Harlow Russell

At the start of each year, I invariably come across a steady drip of articles claiming the imminent death of one marketing channel or another. If I were to believe every article I’ve read over the last few months, I might be lead to conclude there are simply no more viable marketing tactics! Of course, this is melodramatic and, frankly, preposterous.

Nonetheless, as a long-time advocate of direct mail, comparing trends and effectiveness of direct mail versus email and other digital channels is important to my business. I’m pleased to share what I’ve gleaned from my most recent research.

In this article, I’ll explore the major upsides of direct mail, such as sky-high open rates, strong customer affinity for physical mail, and lower levels of saturation as compared to digital marketing channels.

Direct mail vs email

1. Consumers Prefer Direct Mail Over Email

Before we get into the numbers, it’s important to note something upfront: email is and will continue to be one of the most important global business tools and no one can reasonably argue otherwise. But that doesn’t mean that email is the best tool for all situations! A range of studies and consumer polls have shown in recent years that consumers have a greater affinity for physical mail than they do for electronic mail. According to the numbers:

  • 70% of Americans polled said that physical mail feels more personal than email.1
  • 70% of consumers also reported that they prefer unsolicited company offers and correspondence through direct mail rather than email.2
  • 54% of consumers said they enjoy receiving direct mail from brands that interest them.1

For anyone with sales experience, these numbers will intuitively make sense. After all, emotions play a crucial role in developing personal connections and lasting business relationships, and it’s difficult to make an emotional connection through pixels on a screen.

What is especially striking about these numbers, though, is that they establish a baseline consumer preference, independent of the actual content. Savvy marketers can further leverage the inherent strengths of direct mail by incorporating elements of tactile marketing to build new customer connections and strengthen existing business relationships.

2. Direct Mail Open Rates Average Between 80-90%

To risk stating the obvious, you can’t expand your customer base and drive sales unless your messaging reaches the intended recipient and gets read. So, let’s talk about open rates for a minute.

While email open rates hover around a mediocre 20-30%, direct mail open rates are regularly between 80-90%.2 Items that stand out in the mailbox – so-called “lumpy” mail, envelopes that are hand-addressed, or are unusual sizes or colors – may have an even higher open rate. While the difference in open rates between direct mail and email is itself jaw-dropping, it isn’t necessarily surprising once we take into account the staggering volume of emails sent each day.

According to one report, the typical American receives approximately 605 weekly emails, whereas they receive only 16.8 pieces of physical mail in the same amount of time.3 Additionally, data gathered by Kaspersky Anti-Phishing systems show that a little over 52% of all total email traffic in 2018 was spam!4 It’s no wonder that people are becoming increasingly wary of email. By including direct mail as one of the arrows in your marketing tactics quiver, you can help ensure your message gets directly in front of the customer.

Remember: a missed email is a missed opportunity. Rather than taking chances with email, implementing direct mail to ensure your message reaches the recipient can boost your marketing ROI.

The typical American receives approximately 605 weekly emails, whereas they receive only 16.8 pieces of physical mail in the same amount of time.

3. 42% of Recipients Read or Scan the Contents of Direct Mail

In addition to showing the incredibly high open rate of direct mail, data gathered from consumer surveys and polls also show that 42% of consumers will spend additional time to read through or at least skim the contents of a direct mail piece.1 At first glance this might not seem impressive, but the USPS reports that approximately 98% of people who check their mail daily spend up to 30 minutes reviewing it. Additionally, the average lifespan of an opened marketing email is only around 17 seconds before it’s sent to the trash bin.3

Furthermore, 73% of Americans polled reported that they prefer direct mail because the medium allows for more convenience and flexibility around when they review the contents.5 With effort and thoughtful design, marketers can further increase the chances of consumers holding onto direct mail longer by including a dynamic element the recipient can interact with.  This is one of the foundational principles of Awesome 3D Cards!

4. Real-time Direct Mail Tracking Enables Optimal Follow-up

Before the ubiquity of the internet and the advent of online tracking, sending marketing materials through the USPS or a private carrier was a bit like shooting an arrow while blindfolded: you never saw if you hit the target. Today, however, real-time tracking and tech advancements make direct mail more reliable than ever. Most delivery services – including the USPS – offer some form of tracking or delivery notification. In addition, using a unique web address or inexpensive tracking phone number in the call to action of a direct mail piece are other ways that make tracking the effectiveness of direct mail a piece of cake.

Knowing for certain that direct mail reached the intended recipient (and when) allows businesses to more carefully carry out direct follow-up and connect with key leads at the ideal time. For instance, once a piece of mail has arrived, there’s typically a 5-day window during which time the recipient will be most receptive to additional outreach. Even more importantly, your staff will save time by not making follow-up calls before your lead has even received your mailer! I don’t know about you, but I’m all for increased sales efficiency.

Creating Meaningful Engagement with Awesome 3D Cards

As the numbers show, direct mail offers a range of advantages over email, but getting your contact to open the envelope is only part of the story. From there, the challenge becomes cultivating a trust-based business relationship through meaningful customer engagement. This is where Awesome 3D Cards truly shine.

When I launched Awesome 3D Cards, I did so to help my clients create organic opportunities to provide direct follow-up with customers before the emotional cement has set. 3D Cards are great for accomplishing this because they are:

  • Memorable - As a flat piece of postage folds out into a dynamic 3D model, the recipient experiences surprise and delight, which helps create a positive brand association.
  • Emotional - Opening a 3D card is a positive micro-experience that will make the recipient more receptive to your messaging.
  • Personal - Consumers view direct mail as more personal than email, and the inclusion of a hand-written note and signature can go a long way toward solidifying your relationship by demonstrating that the recipient is deserving of your time and attention.

Visit Awesome3DCards.com to learn more about how you can take full advantage of the strength of direct mail marketing tactics, or schedule a free consultation with our team today.

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