From Inboxes to Mailboxes – A Seismic Shift Back in Time

The times, they are a-changin. Just 10 years ago, mailboxes were jammed full of flyers, direct mail postcards, and newspaper ads. Then came the stampede to digital with the influx of popup ads, social media marketing, email campaigns, and so much more.

As the online cacophony has continued to rise, consumers are now pushing back with gusto. Their message to businesses? “Stop bombarding us. We’re tuning you out!”

How do we know this? Email marketing has an open rate of 23%, compared to a whopping 90% open rate for direct mail. Consumers are overwhelmed with invasive digital marketing and prefer forms of advertising that they can hold onto and read later. In contrast, emails are easily ignored and forgotten.

According to a consumer study conducted by USPS, millennials say that physical ads are more effective than digital campaigns in leaving a lasting impression. Paper ads can stay in view as a constant reminder. Unlike email ads which are pushed down the inbox and popup ads which quickly disappear from memory.

“What were the last five things someone sent you in the mail?” asked Lauren Alt-Kishpaugh, VP of marketing at Postal. “I could name the last five brands that have sent me something in the mail. I can’t do it with people who email me.”

Small Business Trends found that 70% of survey respondents said that they prefer direct mailers to email because of the emotional connection they feel receiving something physical in the mail. It has a presence that commands value and attention. Consumers look forward to opening their mail which feels more ‘real’ than email. With the personal connection that direct mail provides, it’s no wonder that recipients prefer physical mail in an overly disconnected  world.

Throw in concerns about online privacy, datamining, and digital security, and there are plenty of reasons to turn back time to the glory days of snail mail. In fact, 82% of Americans trust print ads more than digital ones.

Incoming Direct Mail Tidal Wave

And guess what? Businesses are starting to pay attention.

63% of direct-to-consumer brands invest in direct mail marketing. And for good reasons… According to a survey conducted by Lob and Comperemedia, an impressive two-thirds of companies reveal that direct mail marketing provides the best ROI compared to other marketing options.

In addition, the Association of National Advertisers reports that targeting customers one-on-one through direct marketing increases a business’s response rates by 50%.

Polly Wong, president at Belardi Wong Ad Agency explains “the huge resurgence in the mail is being definitely led by the millennial consumer.” More than 90% of Belardi Wong’s 400 clients are DTC companies, many of them millennial-focused, like Blu Dot and Allbirds. Wong said they will help more than 80 brands work on their first direct-mail campaigns this year.

Digital Death?

Is it time to dump the digital? Not necessarily. Research from Writers Block Live found that businesses that employ both direct mail and digital ads find a 28% increase in conversion rates and an impressive 450% increase in response rates.

Small Business Action Plan

So what’s a small business to do? It’s actually quite clear. Make the best of both worlds by deploying a one-two punch of direct mail advertising, supported by a digital marketing presence. That might be easier said than done when small businesses typically run an all-hands-on-deck approach to daily operations.

Fortunately, specialized marketing companies often offer both print and digital advertising. Search for turnkey service providers like Money Mailer which can manage your multi-channel campaigns from start to finish. Work with reliable agencies that provide ad design and target market development, along with delivery and comprehensive campaign analysis.

Don’t wait, or you’ll miss riding high on the turning tides.