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3 of the Best Uses for Direct Mail

August 23, 2018

Best uses of direct mail can do everything from providing marketers with insight into improving their ROI to helping them gain consumer opt-in. Regardless, marketers are spending heavily in direct mail this year. So it’s time to go over these three insights.

Ten percent more marketers are even spending on marketing technology to optimize their direct mail year over year, bringing the number to 54%, reads research released in June, “2018 Marketing Technology Stack Investment Trends.” That’s 12% more marketers spending on direct mail martech than on mobile technology.

Also, as digital advertising increases, marketers are supplementing those channels with direct mail messages, shows DMA research cited by Brand United. Direct mail is growing as a percentage of the mail stream, according to USPS statistics.

And here’s where that direct mail spend is going.

Direct Mail Is Best Used to Target Households, Rather Than Individuals — Most of the Time

Direct mail is rarely real-time marketing and is often promoting items used by entire households. So not only does it make more sense to use the channel to target households rather than individuals, an eMarketer report shows it makes more dollars.

“Ad Targeting 2018” pinpoints best uses of direct mail, when marketers should pinpoint individuals and when they should go for entire households — or both. On its own, direct mail is best suited to household-level targeting, the eMarketer report released on July 23 reads.

“The household is often the central focus of ad targeting efforts for companies selling items that are shared by household members or products and services centered around life events (such as buying a new home or sending a child to college). For some marketers, lack of individual-level data may also necessitate a primary focus on households. This is often the case for consumer packaged goods (CPGs) companies lacking direct-to-consumer relationships — and data. Those leaning heavily on channels organically targeted at households, such as television and direct mail, also tend to focus here.”

Direct Mail Yielded More Donations Once It Got Personal

Exceptions prove the rule. Even though direct mail goes to households, personalization to an individual within it can yield 41% higher response rates than “Dear Friend,” illustrates Brand United’s case study about how the Delta Group created that increase for the U.S. Border Security Council. Envelopes showed the recipient’s state in four-color printing and urged recipients to open the mail “to learn how a pending House of Representatives bill would impact the recipient’s state, specifically.” Direct mail recipients then saw how the proposed legislation would affect, for instance, Virginia.

Gain Opt-in From Direct Mail Recipients for Future Use of Their Data Across Channels

California started it and other states are considering having marketers follow strict rules, akin to the E.U.’s GDPR, on use of consumers’ personal data. For now, the best uses of direct mail are as a way to seek prospects’ permission to market to them using their personal data. As an Aug. 7 piece in UKFundraising points out, that era is at an end in the E.U.

Here’s what U.S. marketers may want to consider from the UKFundraising piece:

  • Figures from MarketReach suggest 87% of the public trust a letter compared to 48% for email.
  • In the E.U., so possibly headed this way: “If you receive a request to ‘take me off your list’ you can no longer simply suppress a consumer from your own house file, or database, but you now have an obligation to inform the original source of the data.”

What do you think, marketers?

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