New customers are worth much more than the price of postage.
It’s tough out there. Ask any new or even well-established company vying for the attention – not to mention dollars – of today’s savvy and cost-conscious consumer. The $64 million question for any business owner has always been how to get the most out of their marketing investments by bringing in new customers and maintaining the loyalty of their existing clientele.
Direct mail continues to be one of the most widely adopted and effective methods of generating new and repeat business in North America. In fact, the use of direct mail has increased 57% over the last 15 years alone.1 One of the reasons it’s consistently favored by advertisers is its almost limitless flexibility. Any type of company, small or large, can benefit from a direct mail piece, which can be as simple as a targeted letter printed in-house or as elaborate as a slick brochure, postcard or catalog designed to wow the recipient. Whether you’re selling insurance, fitness equipment, construction services, cars, legal counsel or anything in between, this type of targeted customer communication has historically been a great way to obtain a solid return on marketing expenditures.
As such, direct mail is also a major driver of the North American economy, generating billions of dollars in sales every year. According to the United States Postal Service, people spend an average of 25 minutes with direct mail2 pieces such as sales flyers, promotions, coupons, etc. The same study showed that receiving direct mail, personalized and targeted to their interests/needs, inspires many people to go out to the store or buy online. In fact, in a survey conducted in 2008 on behalf of Pitney Bowes, nearly 94% of consumers questioned said they had taken action on promotional offers and coupons received via direct mail over the past year. Coupons offering discounts on groceries are the most likely to be used, followed by coupons for health and wellness products, entertainment, and electronics.3
The notion of a multi-pronged and multi-medium advertising campaign featuring direct mail and electronic messaging is one that has gained a lot of traction in recent years, mainly because one complements the other. Marketing blogger Sharon Markovsky points out that, “While I agree that internet marketing and social media will do great things, direct mail has certainly not met its demise. [That said], direct mail alone won’t do the “heavy lifting” for you. To be effective, direct mail needs to be part of an integrated campaign.”4
By the same token, many marketers and advertisers are discovering that there are limitations in relying exclusively on email to communicate with their existing or targeted customer base. For example, their messages can be filtered by anti-spam programs and never received, and people can “unsubscribe” from their lists with a single click of their mouse before ever reading a word. And while it is true that a printed piece can be tossed away, it is likely to be at least glanced at first.
The business impact of direct mail has been well documented, but what about the environmental implications of using printed pieces? The fact is that advertisers are not destroying the environment with their printed direct mail campaigns. More and more pulp and paper manufacturers, including Domtar, are operating according to responsible forest management practices, thereby safeguarding the resource and its host environment for the long term. What’s more, advertisers have access to numerous environmentally-preferable paper choices, like the Domtar EarthChoice® line, on which to print their direct mail pieces.
Finally, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, discarded direct mail represents only 2.4% of municipal solid waste. This, combined with the fact that the recycling recovery rate has grown nearly 700% since 1990 alone, has meant that the amount of discarded mail sent to landfills has remained virtually unchanged even though the overall volume of direct mail has increased by more than half.5
There are a lot of reasons why direct mail can be a solid and responsible choice for advertisers seeking to make a positive impression. Not the least of which is its proven capacity to catch the eye of new customers and continue to attract loyal followers to their products and services!
1 Mail Moves America; December 15, 2008; 2005 Direct Mail Municipal Waste
2 People spend more time with Direct Mail
3 Promotional offers and Coupons Received via Direct Mail
4 Sharon Markovsky’s Practical Discussions of Marketing. A Practical Discussion of Marketing and Market Research. Direct Mail is a Viable Option for Marketing to Small Businesses.
5 Mail Moves America; December 15, 2008