Money & Business

Why Your Association Shouldn't Ignore Direct Mail

By / Apr 5, 2019 (allanswart/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Direct mail often doesn’t get the respect it deserves these days, but it’s a significantly more effective medium than digital tools like email or social media. And it’s getting more interactive, too.

It’s way cheaper to send out another email or social ad than it is to go to all the trouble of physically printing something out and delivering it through the mail.

But that doesn’t mean direct mail doesn’t have an impact—or that you should discount its value given the right context. Perhaps it’s for that reason that the 2018 edition of the Response Rate Report, a joint study conducted by the Association of National Advertisers and DMA: Data & Marketing Association, found that 81 percent of marketers expected to increase their use of direct mail.

With recent trends in mind, here are a few reasons why direct mail remains interesting in 2019:

The odds are better something will be read. Other outlets are flooded with information on a daily basis, creating lots of competition for your message. A recent study by Valassis and The NPD Group found that 69 percent of people surveyed read or looked at a mailed advertisement, a rate well above what one might find in digital channels. And with knowledge of details such as location and demographics handy, targeting is definitely a point of appeal for direct mail.

It drives response—without being annoying. Because of the nature and lower circulation of direct mail, it’s more likely to drive both eyeballs and response. According to Data Targeting Solutions, last year’s edition of the ANA/DMA Response Rate Report showed a significant increase in response rates compared to prior years. Existing lists saw a 9 percent response rate in 2018, nearly triple the response rates in 2015, while nearly 5 percent of prospects responded. Those rates are significantly above the rates seen in email, search, and social media—all of which hover around 1 percent each.

Direct mail is gaining a video component. Who says direct mail has to be paper? In recent years, a number of firms have started to sell booklets with built-in LCD screens that play video when you open them. One such company, the Florida-based Video Brochures Direct, noted to the Pensacola News Journal that the impact of video booklets still proved gripping, even though such interactivity can easily be found online. “It blows people’s minds. It’s instant gratification,” founder Aaron Ball explained to the newspaper. The article noted one novel use of the booklets involved shipping them to season ticket holders for a minor-league team.

Long story short: Given the right campaign and the right audience, direct mail has a lot of room to make an impact in a big way.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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