Direct Mail Marketing in 2020

Feb 19, 2020

In a predominantly digital world, direct mail looks like an outdated method of marketing. But when done right, it is a great way to reach your audience, grab their attention, and connect with them on a personal level. 

What is direct mail marketing?

Direct mail marketing is the making and sending of advertising materials through the mail, hoping to get customers to patronize your business. Any business that sells a product or service is a great candidate for a direct mail campaign. Get as creative as you like with your mailers, but make sure you identify yourself or your business, have a call to action (CTA), and a way for your customers to contact you.

Why does direct mail still work?

Research shows an upward trend in response rates over the years, highlighting direct mail’s effectiveness. According to the 2018 DMA Response Rate Report, direct mail got 9% (house lists) and 5% (prospect lists). Other research shows direct mail campaigns had a higher return on investment (ROI) than paid search and online display ads and was only one percentage point behind social media. In a hyper-digitized world, how is direct mail so effective?

It’s interactive

Since mail is tangible, customers physically handle it. Direct mail gets more attention when customers sort through their mail, deciding what to keep and what to throw out. By including a CTA like a promotional offer or coupon, customers are more likely to keep it. 

It’s memorable

Everyone enjoys getting a letter in the mail—it makes us feel special. A survey showed that 57% of people said receiving mail makes them feel valued. 73% of people prefer direct mail as an advertising method. Personalized touches like a handwritten note or signature spark an emotional response in the recipient, making your marketing more memorable. 

It’s for all age groups

Direct mail reaches everyone. If your target audience is an older demographic, digital marketing efforts won’t be effective. Roughly 4 in 10 seniors are smartphone users and 67% of people between ages 65 and 80 have the Internet. This percentage decreases to 44% with age. Only 34% of people between the ages of 65 and 80 use social media, dropping to 17% for people over the age of 80. What if your target audience is a younger generation? Research shows that 90% of millennials think direct mail is reliable, 87% enjoy receiving direct mail, and 57% purchased something because of direct mail. This form of marketing has the potential to turn anyone into a new customer.

It’s not as crowded

Digital marketing is a more environmentally friendly option, and you’ll start seeing results sooner. But with more companies scaling back on their physical marketing efforts, your piece has a higher chance of standing out. An innovative, colorful piece of mail is more likely to be seen in a mailbox than finding your company through a Google search. There are also fewer distractions when people receive their mail than when they are online. 

Do’s and Don’ts of direct mail

Now that we’ve covered a few benefits of a direct mail campaign, let’s look at a few guidelines that can help you save time, money, and effort. 

Do: Define Your Audience
Research your target audience and focus your efforts there. Direct mail can have a great ROI and engagement rate, but you will get the most return on your efforts when you narrow in on the people who are most likely to be your customers.

Do: Run Tests First
Send out a few test mailers, making sure you have a way to track your customers’ engagement. This can be a coupon code, email, phone number, or landing page unique to your mail campaign. Now you can easily keep track of who is engaging with your marketing. 

Do: Have a CTA
What is it you want your customers to do? Buy something, use a coupon code, take a survey? Whatever it is, make sure to define that for them in clear terms.

Don’t: Forget to Proofread
Take the time to double-check your copy for any typos or grammatical errors. Your mailer is your first impression to potential customers, so make sure your copy is clean. 


Don’t: Forget to Follow Up
Track how many people are responding to your mailers. This gives you a database of engaged customers who are more likely to be receptive to future marketing. And send them a little thank you message for their patronage.

Don’t: Forget to Drive Traffic Online
While direct mail is highly effective, combining it with your digital marketing efforts is a winning strategy. Link your physical and digital marketing campaigns with scannable codes, hashtag campaigns, or giveaways to get people active on your social media platforms. 

Direct mail is one of the oldest forms of marketing, but it’s still effective at closing the gap between brands and customers. It’s a good way to stand out, so if you’re looking to shake up your marketing efforts, consider complementing your digital marketing strategy with a direct mail campaign.