As the owner of a small or local business, it can be hard to decide where to focus your advertising energy and investments. With the option to advertise online, in print media, or through direct mail, how do you know which is the right choice for you? If you only have a limited timeframe or marketing budget to work with, it’s important to choose a strategy with the most effective response rate and ROI.
Because direct mail is proven to be a great option for many small and local businesses, we’ve come up with this list of 6 advantages of direct mail advertising to help you decide.
What is Direct Mail Advertising?
Direct mail advertising refers to physical mail that is delivered directly into the mailboxes of potential customers in a specific area. It can take the form of targeted mailing lists that are delivered to specific demographics, or saturation mail, which is sent to all or most of the households in a neighborhood.
Direct mail can include catalogs, coupons, menus, postcards, and more. In fact, it’s the ability to get creative and customize your items that makes direct mail so versatile!
But successful direct mail advertising isn’t just about the product. A reputable direct mail company will know how to structure all components of a direct mail campaign to get you the right results. A well planned campaign is more likely to reach or exceed an average response rate of 5% (to prospects) and 9% (to your customers list), current stats according to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Data Marketing and Analytics (DMA) division’s 2018 report on direct media response rates.
Now, let’s take a look at these 6 specific advantages of direct mail campaigns:
Impressive Targeting Capabilities
Some of the more complex ways of targeting your audience digitally – geofencing and geotargeting – are the default options for direct mail. A saturation mailing list targets all of the addresses within a carrier route (a subset of a zip code), so you can pick which carrier routes you want to include or exclude. You can further refine this targeting by excluding specific types of addresses (PO Boxes, drop addresses, seasonal dwellings, and businesses).
You can also include/exclude carrier routes based on median data such as Age, Area Population, Average Household Net Worth, Home Values, Household Income, Number of Children, Renter/Owner, Single or Multi-family Units, and Years of Education.
All of this targeting comes with the cheapest list – the saturation mailing list. These lists have the lowest overall costs per record, and a saturation mailing comes with the lowest potential postage costs.
From here, the targeting options are many, and the associated costs grow in direct proportion to the complexity of your list’s targeting selections. You may notice that the targeting options are very similar to the saturation list above, but the difference is that these targeting options are specific to the individual, while the saturation list’s options are averages for the carrier route.
Some of the most common, and least costly, targeting options include: Age, Auto Makes/Models/Years, Gender, Hobbies, Homeowners, Income, Pet Owners, and Renters.
You can stack these options to build a refined list of prospects. To do the same thing with digital you would need to pull reports from tools such as Google Analytics or pay for data from expensive data aggregators, upload physical lists, and create lookalike audiences. There is a lot of data in the digital world, but that doesn’t make it easy to get to or interpret.
The best part about the impressive targeting capabilities of direct mail is that you don’t have to know them all. All you have to do is ask your direct mail provider how to reach the people you want to reach, and they will do the research for you and come back with options and recommendations to help you reach the right people, while also staying within your marketing budget.
It’s Easy to Use
As a marketing channel, direct mail doesn’t have nearly as many bells and whistles as some channels (case in point, see the section above). There is no platform to learn, no complex bidding strategies to review, keywords to exclude, placements to research or audiences to build. There are fewer components, and fewer steps to get the job done. Can direct mail be complicated? Absolutely. Enter black plating, PURLs, variable messaging and variable images based on purchase history and geographic region… But none of that is required to get in the door and execute a well performing campaign.
Start with who you want to target – we’ll help you build your list (see targeting section above for more on this). Then pick a product and start your design. You can work with our in-house graphic design team to create unique ads – this is included with every campaign at no cost because we know good design is important. Or design your own piece on one of our templates that meet our specifications for printing and mailing.
Once you approve your design, and mailing area/mailing list, we’ll do everything else and you can relax. Because the most effective campaigns involve sending more than one mailer to each household over time, you can schedule an ongoing campaign with Mail Shark’s Annual Mailing Program™. Either way, you’ll benefit from how Mail Shark simplifies direct mail campaign execusion, and our affordable pricing plans.
Whether you want to take the time to plan a long-term strategy or get your campaign up and running right away, our team will walk you through every step of the process.
Less Competition in the Mailbox
While much of the marketing world’s attention has moved to online advertising, you can benefit from the relatively low-clutter of your recipient’s mailboxes. The average person receives 2 pieces of physical mail per day – compared to 107 emails or 63 ads they see each day. As people get less and less physical mail, the items that they do receive stand out.
You can increase your chances of being noticed by sending memorable items, such as oversized postcards, magnets that can be hung on the refrigerator, and even interactive mailers with scratch-off prizes or smartphone-friendly QR codes.
Direct mail items can make an impression on people beyond the recipient. You’ll boost your brand recognition every time a friend, neighbor, or roommate sees your logo, so make sure it stands out at a glance.
Everyone has hundreds of emails in their inbox, and a physical campaign reaches recipients when they’re less distracted and more likely to pay attention. It’s harder to avoid engaging with physical mail than it is with an email, which can easily end up in a spam filter or get lost in your inbox.
Pairs Well With Digital Marketing
Just because online advertising has a lower response rate, though, doesn’t mean you can afford to discount it entirely. Customers still want to read online reviews, follow your company on Twitter, or sign up for a loyalty program.
The great thing about direct mail marketing is that you can have the best of both worlds. You can reach your customers offline, while still giving them the option to connect with you online. You can include QR codes, social media links, and online-only offers.
With all of the tracking tools available to use with direct mail marketing, online and direct mail strategies can go hand-in-hand. You can use different marketing tools at each step in the process to create a comprehensive multichannel marketing strategy.
Send your customers a restaurant menu as a physical mailer, and then follow-up with display advertising on Facebook and via Google Ads promoting the same offer (hint: you can use target your display ads by geography so you know you are reaching the same people). Use a combination of formats to reach customers online and off at different stages of the buyer’s journey.
Builds Brand Loyalty and Recall
Many customers still consider direct mail to be more trustworthy than online ads. They’re skeptical of online scams and more likely to trust a business with a physical address.
When you reach a potential customer through direct mail, you add legitimacy to your brand and help build brand recognition and trust. Use consistent colors and logos that recipients will recognize from other ads or from your local storefront.
Once a prospect has a positive interaction with your brand, they’re more likely to have a positive response when they see future offers from you. Once they’re a customer, follow up with birthday rewards and other personalized discounts. Encourage word-of-mouth advertising by providing a referral code that your customers can pass on to friends.
The Tactile Value of Physical Mail
Ultimately, it all comes down to the fact that our brains are still wired to process physical items more efficiently than we process digital ones. According to writer and researcher Roger Dooley, direct mail is “easier to process mentally” and uses “21% less cognitive effort” than digital advertising.
Studies using fMRIs show that physical media leads to a more emotional response than digital media, and can lead to improved recall and a more memorable experience. Items read on a screen are more likely to be scanned and then forgotten, and emails have a lower response rate than direct mail.
You can make the most of this subconscious preference for tactile experiences by using unexpected sizes, weights and interactive elements to make the most memorable impression on the recipients of your mailer.
Many of the items that we use to look forward to getting in the mail — from paychecks to postcards from friends — have gone digital. But our habit of checking the mailbox everyday hasn’t gone anywhere. Make the most of that behavior by giving your customers a unique scratch-off postcard, an attractive gift card mailer, or a menu to browse at their leisure.
We Can Help
While direct mail has all of these built-in advantages over other forms of advertising, we recommend working with an experienced direct mail company to get it right. From the design phase to printing and delivery, the team at Mail Shark will walk you through it every step of the way. Reach out to us to get a customized quote and print samples and begin working on your direct mail marketing strategy today!