With digital being so prevalent in today’s world no one would be faulted for believing that direct mail is no longer a viable channel to include in your marketing efforts.

But they would be wrong.

Direct mail is still relevant, very relevant.

In fact, according to the Direct Marketing Association, response to direct mail is 10 to 30 times higher than that of digital.

This finding was echoed by Entrepreneur who reported that direct mail elicits a response rate of 3.4%  vs. a response rate of only 0.12% for email.

And to add even more fuel to this fire, consider this: the Data & Marketing Association reports that up to 90% of direct mail gets opened compared to only 20-30% of emails.

Why is direct mail still so affective?

Recently Canada Post commissioned a research study to determine why direct mail is more affective than digital. The study uncovered a variety of insights:

  • Direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than email.
  • Direct mail elicits a much higher brand recall than email.
  • Direct mail is visually processed quicker than email.
  • Direct mail is more likely to drive behavior than email.
  • Direct mail’s motivation response is 20% higher than email.

The study went on to conclude that direct mail taps into deep-seated neurological processes that trigger action. Direct mail also offers the creative versatility to amplify action by appealing to senses beyond touch. In other words, direct mail is better suited than email to close the gap between marketing interaction and the action brands want consumers to take.

Direct mail has a long history of being impactful

Direct mail has been around for over a century. Aaron Montgomery Ward is regarded as the inventor of direct mail marketing.

Ward began a mail order business back in 1872 with a one-page catalogue that he would mail out to customers. This was revolutionary because customers no longer had to rely on local stores as their only source for goods. Instead, they could order their items from Ward’s catalogue and have their purchases mailed to their homes, whether they lived in a big city or a small rural town. Sixteen years later, in 1888, Ward’s sales eclipsed the $1 million dollar mark.

Ward wasn’t the only person who capitalized on direct mail. Sometime during the 1880s a man named Richard Warren Sears started sending out flyers to customers’ homes in order to sell watches. He too enjoyed success employing direct mail as his selling method of choice. By 1896 his flyer has grown to become a 500-page catalogue that was mailed to 300,000 homes.

Make your direct mail even more affective: make it dynamic

It’s clear to say that if your goal is to produce marketing that delivers results, direct mail should be part of your program. But don’t just rely on tried and true traditional direct mail executions.

Take advantage of emerging technologies and integrate them into your direct mail executions to create pieces that will take the recipient’s experience to a whole new level.

Here are just some of the ways marketers are enhancing the impact and ROI of their direct mail efforts:

  • QR Codes: Incorporate a QR code into your direct mail piece that, when scanned by a smartphone, will take your target audience to a landing page, video or social media campaign.
  • Unique Traceable Links: Include a traceable url link that is unique to your direct mail piece to capture user data such as the recipient’s location and demographics. This insight can then be leveraged to inform the targeting and creation of your future campaigns.
  • Voice-Activated Call-to-Action: Roughly 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. own a smart speaker such as Alexa or Google Assistant according to the Smart Audio Report produced by National Public Media and Edison Research. Your next direct mail execution could capitalize on this phenomena by including a voice-activated call-to-action. All you have to do is include a unique word or phrase on your piece. When the recipient says the word or phrase to their smart speaker it triggers a vocal response from the speaker or an experience such as sending the recipient an offer to their email or smartphone.
  • Augmented Reality: Augmented Reality (AR) is another way to make your direct mail piece more dynamic. Upon receiving the direct mail piece, the recipient scans the piece with their smart phone. This action “releases” the AR content—such as a video or animation—which then appears as if it is playing or moving on the direct mail piece.
  • Video Direct Mail: What if your target audience doesn’t typically have a smartphone and you want to embed a video in your direct mail piece. It’s still possible with video direct mail. This type of marketing execution contains a small LCD screen that can store up to 2 hours of video.
  • Dynamic direct mail will lead to dynamic results: Direct mail is already holding its own over digital marketing executions but why stop there? By making your direct mail more dynamic by incorporating game-changing technologies your DM marketing efforts will stand out from the competition, boost engagement and, more than likely, get rewarded with a nice bump up in ROI.