Call It a Comeback
Direct mail is very visible, and it's a part of the daily life of most Americans. For those two reasons alone, companies have traditionally relied on direct mail to get out their marketing messages. Other advertising avenues, such as billboards, TV commercials, radio spots and e-mails, also compete for prospects' attention and loyalty, but only direct mail physically gets into people's hands in their own homes.
For that reason, direct mail also is a frequent target of name calling ("junk mail!") and worse, legislation ("Do Not Mail") in many parts of the country. And lately, amid the economic downturn, it's also become the victim of lower response rates.
However, because of those reasons cited above, direct mail is not going anywhere. In fact, with the powerful addition of personalized URLs to the arsenal, direct mail may even be positioning itself for a comeback.
1. Direct marketing's big 3? While social media and mobile marketing are becoming more popular, they both remain small potatoes compared to what direct marketer Nancy Harhut, chief creative officer at the Wilde Agency, calls marketing's "Holy Trinity": direct mail, e-mail and personalized URLs. She believes that SoMe and mobile will find their rightful place in the communications mix, but will always be minor players. Instead, she's adamant that the DM-EM-personalized URL approach will grow more prominent. "Smarter targeting, more data-driven communications and increased personalization will become necessities," said Harhut, who mentions the historic problem always has been data quality, but that most companies have access to clean, robust data today.
2. Personalized URLs help create a channel-less future. Most companies have siloed their marketing efforts, but Harhut thinks self-interest will begin to trump channel. "If the target sees something of value, then that will be more important than where he or she sees it," she explained. "The humble, closed-faced, teaser-less, 'hand addressed' #10 or 'greeting card' will continue to pull. Mail that carries an 'ignore at your peril' air about it will continue to get opened."