The Return of Direct Mail

Level: basic

Is it really the return of direct mail if it never went anywhere? No matter how much the world adapts with every new technology, one longtime staple in print marketing and advertising has stayed strong: direct mail.

Even with the rapid changes and an evolving workforce, direct mail printing remains a versatile and reliable strategy for businesses and brands big and small.

From Direct Mail Saddle Stitch Booklets and Postcards to Folded Self-Mailers and traditional Letter Mailers, direct mail marketing has remained effective since before the digital revolution and long after its arrival.

And with a premium online printer like Smartpress, your direct mail ideas are endlessly customizable to any campaign.

The Case for Direct Mail

A direct mail postcard printed with a bright, colorful design on the front and event listings on the back.

As digital technologies and online printing have advanced, it was once thought that direct mail advertising would be left in the dust. However, the opposite has actually happened. We’re talking about the return of direct mail, but hasn’t really gone anywhere. Instead, it’s found a home as a sales driver that connects multiple platforms to reach target audiences.

Direct mail has inherent value simply for the fact that it’s much harder to ignore than an email. While emails can be sent to spam and junk folders never to be seen again, direct mail always reaches audiences thanks to its physical nature.

In other words, your target audience has to actually engage with it, which is a big advantage over email marketing.

Edging out Email

Graphics of a laptop with an email on the screen and a mailbox with a direct mail letter sticking out of it.

Email marketing is a constant tool used to target audiences and bring in business. And while it can be effective, it has its drawbacks when compared with direct mail.

According to an email statistics report compiled by The Radicati Group, Inc., a projected 121 business emails were sent and received each day in 2018. And of the received emails, the open rate was just 20-40%.

This is where direct mail is at its most powerful. It’s something tangible a client or potential customer can interact with, feel, touch and even smell.

When done right, it can be a sensory experience, with coated and uncoated paper stocks, finishes like the velvety Soft Touch laminate and intricate folds or perforations.

The Best of Both Worlds

Combining direct mail and email advertising for your marketing campaigns is a great way to take full advantage of both. By doing so, you diversify your strategy and cover all your bases.

However, it’s important to note that direct mail flexes its effective muscle even in these instances. Don’t be surprised if your creative mailers outperform your emails and increase your ROI.

Lasting Effects

Four direct mail pieces unfolded with various marketing designs in multiple colors.

It’s easy to see why this can occur. With direct mail, customers don’t have to sign up for or subscribe to anything, which is often the case with many digital platforms.

It’s just another reason why the return of direct mail isn’t really a return at all – it’ll always have longevity on its side. A recipient may open a mail piece and cast it aside but return to it later. The physical value of a direct mail piece cannot be denied.

Andre Palko, founder and president of Technifold USA, said it well: “They (customers) may not immediately take action, but our brand lingers until they are ready to contact us. An email does not last – and is far less striking.”

Palko continued, maintaining that creative and impactful design can also increase a mail piece’s strength. “Direct mail offers options like kits, dimensional mail and unique packaging options that, by their nature, get past the gatekeepers,” he said. “While these mailings may have higher price tags, they can also get near 100% open rates [and] that’s worth a lot.”

Ultimately, a direct mail piece’s true value (and your success) comes from a sensory experience that sparks engagement coupled with targeted and consistent marketing.

Tip: Take a page out of Palko’s book and use metallic envelopes, lunch bags, packing list pouches and prescription bottles to mail letters. “They are not only fun, they get opened!” he said.

Proof in the Print

Two product catalogs standing with a saddle stitch binding and boundary clothing on the cover.

Not only has direct mail successfully navigated technological advancements, but also a workforce that doesn’t look like it did just a handful of years ago. Even with remote work being incorporated more and more, direct mail still shows it enormous value.

In an article about navigating increased remote work, Emily Courtney cited a study conducted by the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

The study found that 43% of respondents said it’s reassuring to hear from brands they know and trust, while 40% said they wanted to learn about what brands are doing in response to tremendous disruption (such as a pandemic).

It’s worth noting that just 15% said they didn’t want to hear from brands. Overall, this research shows consumers have a positive attitude toward brand communication, and with more people working remotely or from home, a direct mail strategy is an opportunity worth acting upon.

Direct Mail Just Works

The bottom line? Direct mail has long been an effective advertising tool and shows no sign of slowing down. The key is to produce engaging content with creative packaging (like our exclusive Designer Folds collection) and combine it with various media platforms to create a dynamic experience.

But don’t just take our word for it. Check out some first-hand accounts from Smartpress customers:

Super helpful and simple team and platform
“Great and simple experience! [The] Smartpress team was super helpful and the platform for ordering, updating and tracking my order was easy to use. Also had a few folks assigned to my project to help, so it wasn’t just passed around all over the place – I had one central hub to keep everything organized and updated. Printed about 1,500 postcards with variable printing and they turned out great.” -Dan, Verified Buyer

Awesome quality for real estate marketing
“I use Smartpress for my real estate business. They produce high-end mailers and booklets for me on a monthly basis. To top it off, they mail it out to more than 4,000 properties that I prospect.” -Aaron, Verified Buyer

If you have questions about the return of direct mail, variable data printing, mailing guidelines, addressing or any of our online printing services, please contact us and chat with one of our print experts.