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3/04/2012

Social Media Rocks But Don’t Forget About Direct Mail

By Steve Olenski.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am an unabashed social media junkie, addict and devotee. But truth be told I cut my advertising/marketing/branding teeth in the world of direct mail and it is still a very viable tool especially when used as part of an overall integrated campaign.
So why do I get the feeling that many marketers today look at direct mail the way people look at the Jurassic Period?

Sure it’s nice to imagine what life was like all those millions of years ago, and hey, maybe a movie about it would be nice, too, they would say.

But does it have any relevance in today’s digital world? Not really.

Well, to those marketers I would simply say beware of the dinosaur, because T-Rex is not only not dead, he is still very relevant and very important. Last year I wrote an article in this very space, In This Land Of Digital, Let’s Not Forget The Physical, which touched on a survey conducted by by Millward Brown, a leading global research agency.

Their survey revealed that ”physical media–AKA direct mail–left a ‘deeper footprint’ in the brain.” In other words media that consumers can touch and feel resonated and touched more emotions than those of the digital variety.

And those consumers that are affected by “physical media” are not just the older demo, as many marketers believe.

“Direct mail surprisingly transcends the age demographic, with younger consumers (the 18- to 34-year-old demographic) preferring to learn about marketing offers via postal

mail rather than online sources, according to national survey research from ICOM,” said Lisa Formica, president of FMI, a direct mail marketing and advertising firm.

Yeah but then there’s the whole USPS nightmare to deal with, right?

Will they raise rates again?

Will they file for bankruptcy?

Maybe direct mail isn’t worth it because of having to deal with the United States Postal Service?

Hold that thought…

“The USPS has may many advances over the years that has made direct mail more measurable and an even better value for marketers,” added Erik Formica, also of FMI and an executive member of the Greater Philadelphia Postal Custom Council. “For example, the introduction of the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB) has opened a range of new services and cost savings for marketers.”

Ok, so people like to touch and feel and presumably open direct mail, and it’s not just for the older demos, either. And even the USPS is doing their part.

So why aren’t more marketers using it?

According to The Kern Organization, it comes down to a matter of training and experience, or lack thereof–as explained in their blog post, Is There Still A Place For Direct Mail in This Digital Age?

  • Few marketers these days have had the training required to produce winning packages time after time.
  • Many marketers lack the experience and confidence needed to design an effective testing strategy.

I can tell you as one who cut his marketing teeth in the world of direct mail marketing, training and education play a huge role in producing successful direct mail campaigns.

And as anyone who has ever initiated a direct mail strategy, testing is paramount.

What About ROI?

According to a recent survey conducted by Target Marketing magazine, the channel that delivered the strongest ROI for customer acquisition for B2C marketers was direct mail. Direct mail also scored the highest among B2C marketers for customer contact and retention.

For the record, among B2B marketers, email scored the highest for ROI and customer contact and retention.

Now, truth be told, part of the reason direct mail scored the highest among all channels, such as social media, may due in large part to the ongoing dilemma that is how to measure the ROI of social media.

But that still does not take away from the fact that direct mail can be a very effective medium if used as part of an overall integrated campaign.

And don’t even get me started on integration. To say I’m a proponent of integration would be a major understatement. Heck I even wrote an article showing the correlation between two of my favorite things: marketing integration and Schoolhouse Rock.

Ok, your thoughts please.

Do you use direct mail in your advertising and marketing campaigns and strategies?

How about as a consumer yourself, do you like getting packages in the mail?

And as for integration, if you do get a direct mail piece do you expect to see the same message across other media?

Sources: Marketing Charts, The Kern Organization, FMI, Google Images, Forbes

By Steve Olenski

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