Direct Mail 2.0 Is Here and It’s Just as Effective as Digital

Skip the cluttered inbox and deliver what people want to their mailboxes

People have always loved direct mail—it’s personal, memorable and shareable.

That said, direct mail needs to keep evolving to meet the new standards of relevance and engagement that consumers get through digital channels. And this tactile format can meet these expectations and be as powerful and disruptive as an email campaign—sometimes even more so. Old perceptions need to be smashed—Direct Mail 2.0 is here.  

Direct mail presents an opportunity for relevant personalization. People want appropriate messaging, not invasive personalization. When direct mail is done right, it can influence people and disrupt their buying behaviors as much as, if not more than, digital. Print and digital tactics working in unison can be a potent combination.  

So, how do you create an effective direct mail campaign that delivers the personalization and relevance people desire? How long does it take, what factors do you need to consider, and how do you avoid being intrusive?

Go local

Direct mail is an ideal medium to drive neighborhood-level impact—from ramping up regional brand awareness to driving traffic to a particular retail location. People respond to local relevance more: 66% of individuals say direct mail makes them aware of neighborhood stores, restaurants and services (to say nothing of triggering interactions through promotions). 

Build connections with personalized content

Localized targeting helps speak to people in a specific area, but instead of talking to everyone in the household the same, you can tailor content around specific personas or age groups.

For example, many Hispanic consumers are millennials, as their average age is 29.8, according to the Pew Research Center. Direct mail can find and talk to this valuable audience segment and vary creative by factors such as country of origin and primary language and acculturation, to name a few. 

The Valassis 2021 Consumer Intent Report highlighted that 72% of millennials use coupons they receive in the mail, making this market segment perfect for a promotion or discount that can be redeemed in a local store. 

Pinpoint consumers ready to buy 

Direct mail is a convenient, tactile prompt that can trigger customers to act, particularly if incentivized with a promotion or discount. Incorporating purchase intent data into your direct mail campaigns helps you ensure you’re only reaching out to those ready to buy. 

But you need to play your hand carefully. Get the timing or the targeting too right, and you risk making your best customers uncomfortable. In practice, that might mean offering promotions around products they’re likely to enjoy rather than products they’ve bought before. Generating these insights requires deep analysis of the online and offline intent signals of individuals; an experienced partner can help you spend less time uncovering them and more time activating them. 

The best of both worlds

Direct mail campaigns often see the best results when they’re part of a broader omnichannel strategy. Our Awareness-to-Action study found that 46% of people say they are encouraged by direct mail ads to go online for more information about the advertiser, while 41% claim a direct mail ad encouraged them to go online to purchase from that advertiser. 

When operating outside of silos, digital and direct mail campaigns can work in harmony to deliver outstanding results. By combining the two, you can drive people online using direct mail, or you can remind customers who are engaged with digital to look out for upcoming deals in their mailbox.

Direct mail has a key role to play as part of any emerging omnichannel marketing strategy. Just as spammy email blasts are evolving into personalized, highly targeted, customer-centric engagements, direct mail is transforming into a specific, high-impact channel that cuts through the noise.

The next era of direct mail is about mirroring the data richness and enhanced experiences offered by digital campaigns and building on the ongoing success of the format in a far less saturated, far more personal environment.

Karen Law has more than two decades of experience in data-driven, customer-centric and multichannel solutions for some of the world’s largest advertisers. Today, she contributes to sales coaching, education and development.