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Apparently, Direct Mail Marketing is Not Dead. Just Check Your Mailbox

Old Mailboxes

With all the focus on the latest and greatest technology in marketing, it’s easy to overlook some of the marketing techniques that have stood the test of time for several years now. Before there was targeted display advertising, email marketing or even television advertising there was direct mail in one form or another.

Did you know: Direct mail dates all the way back to 1,000 BC in Egypt? In the 1800s, thousands of years later and long after the invention of the printing press in 1440, Aaron Montgomery Ward printed his household products in the form of a catalog. Ward’s catalog mailer would lead to multiple copycat campaigns by the likes of Richard Warren Sears and establish his prominence as the godfather of direct mail marketing.



But what is not said is how this iconic marketing channel, when paired with your other marketing efforts can increase your audience reach and overall campaign performance to a level unsurpassed by a single medium. In fact, according to the Global Digital Audience Report produced by Turn, advertisers who move from a single channel to two or more channels see an average of 3x improvement in ROI.

Adding a unique direct mail piece can positively complement your overall campaign and attract a whole new set of customers who may not have heard your radio spot, seen your television commercial, engaged with your social media accounts or received your email marketing campaign. But your direct mail message must supplement your campaign in a way that your other marketing mediums cannot. Here are two groundbreakingly effective ways brands have successfully gained my attention and bolstered their marketing campaigns by using direct mail.  


Two ideas that changed the way I look at direct mail marketing

1. The Dealership Sweepstakes

Imagine this; you get home from a long work week to find that your mailbox has a scratch off card in it with a chance to win a new grill, a car or even up to $500,000 in gold coins. Exciting right? You scratch the card to reveal your lottery number and find that it does, in fact, match its winning counterpart. You’ve won something. Now you just have to drive to the dealership to see what you’ve won, and you only have a few days to do so or your prize will be given to someone else.

At this point, the dealership has your attention in a way more interactive than that of a regular print promotional mailer, you are willing to drive to the local business, and the call-to-action is clear, come by the dealership or miss out on the opportunity to win.

This stellar direct mail campaign coupled with several targeted radio spots while driving and then an email marketing campaign with offers and other upcoming dealership giveaways can leave a lasting impression and steer more customers in their direction.  

2. Nerf Guns

“Good morning and welcome to our weekly email newsletter! We appreciate your interest in what we do, and as a token of our appreciation, we are sending you a package. You should receive the package via mail over the course of the next few days, so be on the lookout for it. We think you (and your team) are going to enjoy what’s inside.”

Just a few weeks ago I received this email after subscribing to one of my favorite content newsletters, and I was pleasantly surprised with the relationship this brand built immediately after. A thank you email would have sufficed, but this brand went above and beyond and kept itself at the top of my mind for days to come.

I will admit, after reading the email I was skeptical to what would lie ahead in the coming days, but as the box arrived, I found myself excited to open the package. I knew it was from a vendor. I knew it most likely included some sort of sales materials, but even still I was intrigued and interested to see what was inside.

I quickly opened the package, a cardboard box with a large “top secret” label printed on the side directly adjacent to my name and to my astonishment, what do I see? More secret agent themed messaging inside. But under the first layer laid the tool any 007 would need, a set of eight Nerf guns!

Each member of my team got to share in the fun and, of course, a friendly battle was waged that had the whole office up in arms. And as the fighting ensued it was inevitable that everyone in the office learned a little more about the company that had grown adults ducking behind desks, running around cubicle walls and having way too much fun for a Monday.

Mission accomplished.


By the Numbers

As a true savvy marketer, you understand the power of multi-channel marketing. To reach your customers where they are and where they prefer you must diversify your campaigns. The numbers that support direct mail as a potent tactic in addition to your other marketing efforts are staggering. Here are just a few stats that I would like to leave you with. The numbers may just surprise you. They may even lead you to add direct mail to your marketing arsenal or at the very least rethink the importance you have for using multiple marketing channels to empower your future campaigns.  


According to BIA/Kelsey’s “Franchise Advertising and Marketing Research Report,” 62.8% of US franchise businesses consider direct mail as their leading marketing tactic, over Facebook advertising, radio, online display and coupons.


Direct mail ranks number one among marketing methods used by US SMBs. 66.3% of SMB marketers report using direct mail in the “Local Commerce Monitor (LCM) Wave” conducted by BIA/Kelsey. Internet Yellow Pages came in at number two on the list with Facebook advertising and web video to follow respectively.


Lastly, among US SMB marketers who use direct mail, 33% report five to nine times ROI after applying the medium to their marketing campaign. BIA/Kelsey states that some marketers encounter even greater results with 15.9% reporting profits of 10 -19 times their spend and 10.3% of respondents with over 20 times ROI from direct mail marketing initiatives.

Alex Navarro
Contributor: Alex Navarro comes to @Distribion with a background in developing and executing national brand awareness campaigns. His passion is creating personalized marketing strategies and watching them come to life.

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Contributor: Alex Navarro comes to @Distribion with a background in developing and executing national brand awareness campaigns. His passion is creating personalized marketing strategies and watching them come to life.

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