Direct Mail Is Not Dead

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The hype surrounding online marketing and social media is hard to ignore. In the highly digitized world we live in, it is no surprise that many executives might believe that the days of direct mail success are over. Contrary to such assumptions, statistics show that direct mail is still one of the best ways to reach certain types of customers. According to facts published in the DMA 2011 Statistical Fact Book, sales revenues grew from $457 billion to $477 billion from 2010 to 2011.

Even marketing agencies viewed as leaders in the high-tech industry see the value of utilizing direct mail as part of a comprehensive marketing program. The fact that Google is one of the largest users of direct mail worldwide validates this assumption about the viability of direct mail as an effective marketing tool. One explanation about why direct mail marketing is so attractive to business executives relate to the impressive Return on Investment (ROI) that direct mail generates. Projected ROI for each $1 spent in 2011 is an impressive $12.03, as compared to $5.24 for general advertising.

Direct Mail Option Compared to Email

While many marketing professionals prefer the idea of sending an inexpensive email out instead of spending the upfront money required to prepare an attractive direct mail piece, there are certain factors that still make direct mail a superior method of marketing. The fact that a home address is a guaranteed delivery address is a noteworthy benefit of using direct mail. Comparatively, many consumers have multiple email addresses that are inactive. Some email addresses are forgotten about and rarely checked. To make matters even worse, many emails will never reach the intended recipient because they will land in the spam file. Fortunately, a physical piece of mail does not fall prey to these types of problems.

Another reason direct mail still works during contemporary times is because consumers like getting mail. With 60 percent of U.S. consumers saying they like to check the mail, it is understandable that companies enjoy success from direct mail marketing. An estimated 65 percent of direct mail recipients eventually make a purchase resulting from this type of promotional effort.

Likely Consumers Favour Print

Attracting women is crucial for any marketing strategy intent on getting to the decision maker who ultimately makes most family purchases. Since females have an estimated spending impact of about $5 trillion annually, prudent marketing executives recognize the importance of reaching out to this powerful group of consumers in ways they appreciate. In an annual survey conducted by Veris Communications’ Customer Focus Research, findings support that women like direct mail as a resource for making purchases. Female consumers cited newspaper ads, inserts and coupons as the most useful for making purchases.

Direct Mail as a Growth Industry

Much like all consumers, businesses vote with their dollars. Based on that fact, it becomes obvious that the growth of the direct mail industry substantiates its viability. According to The Direct Marketing Association’s annual forecast of direct marketing’s economic impact, direct mail expenditures increased at the impressive rate of 5.6 % to a figure of $163 billion in the year 2011.


Business executives are not immune to the allure of the loud hype that defines the digital world and social media giants. For marketing purposes though, taking into account what works consistently as a marketing tool, as measured by ROI, is of paramount importance. Based on profitability considerations, the use of direct mail as a marketing tool makes good business sense as a practical and proven way to market to contemporary consumers.

Dave Dunne

Dave Dunne is a freelance copywriter and blogger who writes on a range of subjects including marketing, small business, web development and SEO.

Reader Interactions


  1. Richa says

    I completely agree with you on this one. Direct mail has its own importance and cannot go dead. Thanks for this wonderful insight.

  2. amy swanson says

    Great post, Dave! It’s amazing how quick some companies are to completely drop direct mailings because everyone assumes nobody gets snail mail anymore. I still get it and I usually always open it to at least glance at what’s inside the envelope.

  3. Dave Dunne says

    Thanks for the feedback Amy and Richa! There’s so much hype about social media and SEO that sometimes direct mail is ignored. There are so many more innovative things that can be done with it though. Online is obviously important but it doesn’t make more traditional forms of marketing defunct. A good integrated strategy is what works best in my experience. Thanks again!

  4. charansingh says

    “We know that people need to hear our message on average 8-13 times before they even notice we’re talking to them. But, in this age of being fascinated with all things digital — we need to remember to keep focused on creating a media mix — and that means adding some offline efforts into your overall marketing plan.”

  5. Will says

    I wrote an article not long ago titled ‘LONG LIVE THE MAIL-SHOT’, couldn’t agree more with your article. If you have sourced accurate business data, along with designing a well thought out mailer then you are increasing your chances of profitable success!

  6. Lee says

    Unfortunately normal mail seems to be dying out as does a lot of ways of more face to face communication. We are told we are always connected to everyone. But we are not actually talking to anyone face to face. I for one hope normal postal mail keeps its place and doesn’t become extinct.
    Great stuff thanks lee

  7. sunnyson548 says

    As per the marketing strategy the traditional marketing never dies for any small to large scale business. This supports the entire product with their services. It brings the public awareness among all the successful relations with the clients.

  8. sunnyson548 says

    This direct mail is the perfect term of creating an direct marketing. Most of the companies and the organization will customize their business directly to their specific customers or clients through this mails as marketing or promoting. Make sure that the letter and the postal cards are the real time promotions as compared to the internet marketing.

  9. Pet Travel says

    I think direct mail will be around in the near future . I can’t relly see it going away. We still need official letters as far as the laws goes.

  10. Alex says

    Now a days it is more tougher to get on rank for most of the low competitive keywords. In short organically you can not generate leads, for that direct mailing marketing strategy is really useful.

  11. Jesse Christopher says

    As soon as I read in that 2nd paragraph, “Google is one of the largest users of direct mail” I think I speak for many others how it gave myself a guy level check at how effect direct mailing can be. It’s always nice to hear, at times it’s easy to start to think that direct mail isn’t going to do anything, how its just a waste of time, money, and resources. Those ROI numbers are impressive.

    This was a really kick butt article filled with some good points. I really feel that ‘print’ in general will make a come back or “rise” in the next couple years. The internet has undoubtedly slowed down the progress of having something printed out and having the ability to hold whatever it is in your hand to read. People are starting to become more and more bored with staring at a screen (even eReaders) and I believe when I say that I’m willing to pay the cash to have something tangible to hold in my hand, there are others out there that would agree with me.

  12. cristina says

    As per my thinking marketing strategy the traditional marketing never dies for any small to large scale business. so it will give the public awareness among all the successful relations with the clients.

  13. Duzadee says

    Yes, i totally agree that direct mail is not dead. But we need to measure that if it is worth to put our money and/or effort on that strategy. Nowsday there is a lot of thing that is way way better (like SEO or social media marketing).

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