Is direct mail still useful, or has it officially died?

To be honest, when I first heard someone discussing this concept, I was a little offended. As a twenty-something-year-old who works at a marketing company that was founded on and thrives on direct mail, I did not understand why this was even a question. To me, our sheer existence should prove the continued effectiveness of direct mail. If direct mail is dead, then how does this company continue to grow and thrive?

Maybe we are the minority. Perhaps direct mail is dead. Although I have worked at iPD Agency for over six years and have witnessed the value of direct mail, I felt at times as if we were fighting a losing battle. As we move closer and closer to a completely digital world, how does the mailbox still even exist? After a bit of research, I found out how.

Because it still works.

In 2017, the Data & Marketing Association reported that the response rate per household of direct mail is 5.1% When compared to other statistics, direct mail still blows others out of the water. To put this into perspective, email and paid searches only have a response rate of .6%. Although social media has blown up in terms of marketing within the last few years, social media’s response rate is only .4%.

How is this possible?

Some blame the older generation, who do not utilize the internet as much as the younger generation. I, myself, instantly made this assumption before I did my research. The Data & Marketing Association, however, manages to throw out this assumption. The DMA found that for people aged 18-21 years old, the response rate for direct mail soars to nearly 12.5%! It would appear that, for whatever reason, millennials respond quite well to direct mail.

Regardless of our personal experience working with direct mail, it is far from dead. In fact, supporters of direct mail believe that in this day and age, direct mail is thriving. In a world in which consumers are bombarded with thousands upon thousands of emails, pop-ups, and IP-targeted ads on social media, good old-fashioned mail in the mailbox has become the odd man out. Think about it.

How many phonebooks have you had delivered to your house in the past few years? The answer is probably none. What used to be the norm twenty years ago has completely changed. Flyers and letters are not as common as they once were, and this is a great thing! This sudden shift has provided consumers with a refreshed viewpoint of direct mail. The market is not as saturated with pamphlets stuffed into the mailbox like it was ten or twenty years ago. The revival of direct mail is something that I believe, if used correctly, will work wonders for your business. While I believe marketers should be keen to learn and utilize the modern-day digital marketing, we should also take care to not lose sight of the basics.

Trends come and go. Who knows how long social media will prove to be effective. But direct mail has been around for over a hundred years. That’s a pretty good track record if I say so myself.

Still think direct mail is dead? Check out my CEO David Villa’s article here.