Time to Startup!

The BizFilings blog covering business tips and trends.

Just How Effective is Direct Mail?

Published on May 16, 2011


Read 'Just How Effective is Direct Mail?' at 'Time to Start Up,' the small business blog by BizFilings.
A lot has been said about direct mail marketing in recent years. On the one hand, there are the consumers that denounce it as junk mail that immediately goes in the trash and serves to do little more than provide environmental waste. However, many marketing professionals argue that it is instrumental in lead generation, sales and brand promotion, and add that, when leveraged in an efficient manner, can produce strong returns on investment. A recent study by the Print Industries Market Information and Research Organization found direct mail to be the most important direct marketing channel in 2009, with a 31 percent share in advertising spend, according to WhatTheyThink magazine. A separate study by MagnaGlobal reported that overall direct media advertising revenue is expected to grow by 0.8 percent this year, compared to 0.7 percent last year, stemming criticism that the channel is dying in the face of growing digital competition. "Direct mail did a lot better than we thought," said Alex Feldman, manager of global forecasting at MagnaGlobal, according to the source. "It will grow each year within the next five years." "But compared to electronic media," Feldman conceded, "direct mail and directories are at a disadvantage." It's true: Social media is something of a marketing revolution. A recent study by Social Media Examiner found 90 percent of marketing firms consider the channel to be an important aspect of their operations. But to most professionals, this constantly evolving trend merely underscores the importance of optimizing one's direct marketing strategies - that is, embracing a greater level of efficiency in developing a direct mail strategy. For example, do not simply blanket a region with indiscriminate mailings; that really does serve only to mount the trash heap. Instead, develop personalized campaigns that address consumers' individual interests and purchases in a respectful and professional manner. "Address customers by name, always thank them for their business, and recognize that they have a relationship with you," writes Mark Peterson for Bloomberg Businessweek. "You may even want to refer specifically to the last time they purchased from you if you haven’t seen them in a while." However, at the end of the day, only a quality product or service can generate sales figures. Marketing is important - essential, even. But word-of-mouth is powerful, and social media only encourages it, so if a customer has a poor experience, everyone will know about it.