Tech Line

5 Scary Direct Mail Myths Busted

Modern marketers are facing more and more responsibility to make sure leads come in and close. It’s enough to scare the bejeebers out of anybody. Some are eyeballing direct mail as one more solution to help move prospects along.

Today, marketers have processes they need to follow and analytics they need to gather, so the thought of dealing with direct mail again is enough to intimidate even the most intrepid marketer.

To help allay those fears, here are five scary direct mail myths thoroughly debunked.

Scary Myth # 1: Direct mail is only cost-effective if you spread the costs across a huge list.

According to the PFL-Forrester report, 77 percent of respondents said they would consider direct mail if they could scale delivery up or down based on their budget. That’s three-quarters of marketers who would be surprised that they can already do that. Modern direct mail can be created via print-on-demand technologies, which means delivery can be scaled up—or down—based on the same factors used to create and measure electronic direct mail.

Scary Myth #2: It’s expensive to run A/B tests using print direct mail.

Modern marketers are always testing, and SaaS-based technology means that testing can extend to direct mail campaigns. Just as marketers do with their digital campaigns, the technology enables the same kind of A/B testing for print. Test headlines, colors, pricing, and product shots to determine which will generate the best results.

The fact is, A/B testing has always been part of the direct mail ethos. Even in the earliest days of direct mail, creative was often tested before being deployed to a larger list. According to the authors of the book, Smart Persuasion: How Elite Marketers Influence Consumers, it actually dates back more than 100 years to an effort called “Statistical Hypothesis Testing.”  

Scary Myth #3: It’s not possible to automate direct mail to buyer purchase signals or the buyer’s journey.

In the PFL-Forrester report, 76 percent of modern marketers said they would want to use direct mail to serve messaging based on buyer purchase signals, and 75 percent said that they would want to use direct mail based on the buyer’s position in the journey. Modern marketers can do this! Marketers using technology to nurture leads can program in automated direct mail creation and delivery tied to specific buying signals. For instance, a user who has read a specific white paper could receive an envelope with a personalized note from their would-be rep enclosing a related white paper.  

Similarly, when a potential customer signed up for a demo webinar, they were asked what their biggest pain points were. They attended the demo but had not yet committed to purchase. This is an ideal use case for direct mail because a marketer can orchestrate sending a package highlighting how the marketer’s company helps, specifically looking at their previously stated pain point.

Scary Myth #4: I can’t optimize a direct mail campaign.

Marketers told PFL-Forrester that they would need to be able to optimize direct mail campaigns for them to consider including it as a touchpoint. Direct mail campaigns can be optimized just any digital campaign can. Data from the campaign can be used to improve future deliveries. The magic of modern direct mail, though, is that you can get analytics quickly based on small (but representative) samples.

Scary Myth #5: People ignore direct mail.

This is the major myth that is simply not true. In fact, the marketers responding in the study refuted this notion. When asked how likely they are to open a package they receive as work, a staggering 81 percent of marketers said they would absolutely open one. This is in line with data from the news organization, which reports that up to 90 percent of direct mail gets opened.  

And people don’t just open direct mail. They act on it in ways that email cannot replicate:

  • According to RetailWire, direct mail is kept around for an average of 17 days, while once an email slips off the visible screen it is basically forgotten.
  • Seventy-five percent of people recall a brand after seeing direct mail, while only 44 percent of digital-ad recipients have any recollection.
  • When asked whether direct mail or email inspired them to take action, 30 percent of millennials said direct mail is more effective, while only 24 percent of them cited email.
  • The Small Business Administration noted that direct mail campaigns generate 5X the purchases over email campaigns and that combining the two boosted the purchase ratio to 6X.

A recent article from the Harvard Business Review cited reasons that modern marketers are reconsidering being all-in on digital marketing. How many of these resonate with you?

  1. Break through the digital din. The tsunami of digital ads is leaving users feeling frustration, and this reflects badly on brand association.
  1. Trust. They cite a Marketing Sherpa survey on the trustworthiness of marketing vehicles. Direct mail is the third most trusted marketing vehicle.
  1. Digital technologies, such as QR codes and unique URLs, enable granular data to be gathered from direct mail.
  1. Retargeting backfires. A recent article in the Journal of Marketing shows how remarketing can backfire if it’s done too fast. Abandoned-cart customers receiving remarketing messaging with an hour were shown to be less likely to complete their purchase.

So, though it seems a bit scary when it first appears, modern direct mail is more Casper than Candyman. Nothing to be afraid of here. In fact, the combination of digital and physical marketing is a match made, not in the netherworld, but in marketing heaven.