Rumors of the death of direct mail have been greatly exaggerated. In truth, it never went away and is essential to the future of integrated marketing. The COVID-19 pandemic has starkly shown us where we had weaknesses in our business outreach functions—and where strengths already existed. The largely touchless nature of direct mail and mailing services are an instant boon for those tactics and are embraced more and more by integrated marketers as work and marketing outreach continues to evolve.
"When times are changing, people appreciate companies and brands that stay grounded and focused on providing value to their customers," said Masha Drokova, founder of Day One Ventures in an interview with Business Insider.
Direct Mail is Novel
When the long-range impact of the pandemic quickly became evident, and businesses began to rethink their marketing strategies, many responded with an assortment of digital solutions. Consumer marketing dollars shifted to digital advertising, email, social media, and e-commerce options.
Direct mail, though, provides an alternative to an inbox packed full of unsolicited messages for the mostly homebound. Creative direct mail sent directly to their homes allows consumers to engage with companies from home. Businesses can also overcome the noise and crowding of digital marketing methods that may lead overwhelmed recipients to delete the majority of their messages or avoid/block out what feels like excessive digital outreach.
Direct Mail Is Affordable
Both cost-effective and efficient, direct mail can drive brand awareness and engagement. Though direct mail often includes production and mailing costs that are not present with digital promotions, online advertising and outreach often come with a hefty price tag of their own. From AdWords to email, integrated marketers will find that their budgets quickly become outsized when including targeting, list hygiene, pay-per-click, cost-per-click, etc.
Direct Mail is Safe
Whether selecting a standard mailing, Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM), variable data mailings, or a custom piece, the entire process can be managed online from uploading artwork to attaching a mail list and selecting services. The direct mail provider should also be able to oversee all of the mailing services you need, including design consultation, list acquisition/management, addressing, labeling, sorting, fulfillment, and more.
Early on during the pandemic, there were some concerns about transmission of COVID-19 by mail but experts at the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) quickly determined that mail was safe, eliminating concerns over receiving marketing pieces at home. The US Postal Service (USPS) has also taken additional safety precautions to ensure the safety of the mail and packages that they deliver.
Direct Mail is Personal
While many of us are working from home offices, one thing we don’t feel from the many electronic marketing messages we encounter is a sense of personal contact. But mail in your physical mailbox when so many feel disconnected from friends, family, and co-workers is thrilling. It feels more genuine and exciting.
Direct mail pieces have the power to be whatever an integrated marketer would like them to be, such as a postcard with a warm message, a personalized gift, or a useful or helpful die-cut piece. What’s most important is the relevant, thoughtful intent that provides recipients with a sense of connection outside their home or home office. Philanthropy Daily reminds us that throughout times of uncertainty, direct mail has always been there to allow people to stay in touch or communicate essential messages. Empathetic, meaningful mailers that recipients receive without fear of interacting directly with others are a critical contrast for those experiencing screen fatigue.
Consider Direct Mail
In a world in which we are largely avoiding human interaction, it’s a great time to consider direct mail for building connections with customers. The tangibility of direct mail in a mostly virtual world makes it more relevant than ever. Direct mail and mailing services are the perfect remedies for a touchless world that faces digital exhaustion and seeks connection.