In the mid-2010s, USPS recorded significant losses as the number of items posted declined, and the future of direct mail began looking somewhat bleak.
However, its resurgence is underway, partly brought-about by the COVID-19 pandemic and companies needing to appeal to customers who customarily shop in-store. But also by more cost-efficient printing techniques, the saturation of digital channels, and the need to promote goods and services in a lively way that engages customers.
Hence, direct mail is on the incline. Even further growth is predicted for the future as 78% of executives and marketers (51% of whom are B2B businesses) claim that integrated, branded, and personalized direct mail is a highly effective channel.
Traditionally, e-tailers have stayed away from direct mail, wrongly thinking that their customers have no interest in consuming offers and products via this channel. But, as businesses seek new, less saturated channels for engaging their customer base, many have begun incorporating direct mail into their marketing strategy.
The advantages are plenty and are only enhanced in a time where customers sheltered-at-home are overloaded by traditional communication methods like email. Benefits include:
Leveraging direct mail is useful, not only for the reasons listed above but also because there is credibility in this legacy channel. It’s a sign of a mature business with a healthy product range. But the main reason for e-tailers to utilize direct mail is because it works, both for current customers and for the new audiences they wish to attract.
It also works for consumers. Catalogs and brochures are kept for at least seven days on average and passed around the family. They last longer than online ads and emails, with Inkit stating that 57% of consumers open addressed mail.
But that is not at the expense of email and other channels. Instead, it is about combining channels, making sure the right channel is used to reach the right person at the right time. Getting this correct can lead to significant gains.
In fact, Jonathan Z. Zhang concluded from his research that combining email plus direct mail results in both inquiries and sales outperforming a control group by 77% and 28% respectively, as well as outperforming those groups receiving content through a single channel.
So direct mail is on the upward curve, but there is still plenty that you need to get it right!
Ensuring that your mailings are sent to the right address is fundamental to your direct mail strategy. To achieve this, data accuracy is key.
9.3% of consumers move every year in the USA, so ensuring your customer data is continually cleansed and identifying movers through The National Change of Address System (NCOA) is vital. Failing to verify consumer data can have expensive consequences – firstly, the cost of production and postage. Secondly, expenses accrued through the missed opportunity of making a sale.
This is why Data Maintenance is so important. Ensuring your data is correct means that the effort you put into creating a direct mail piece, securing budget, and selecting the right customers doesn’t all fall down at the first hurdle.
If you are sending out expensive mail packs, then you want to ensure that, if you have multiple customers in the same home, you send one pack per household. This saves you money as the pack is likely to be shared. Leaving eye-catching catalogs on the coffee table not only extends their lifespan but also generates the "hey, did you see that nice mailing from XXX" type of cognitive-communication that your brand managers strive to create.
For e-tailers where sender reputation is vital, it’s recommended to validate emails before sending them to proactively remove any non-deliverables. It also enables you to act quickly on time-bound offers, easily identifying invalid addresses and hard email bounces so that you can contact customers through alternate channels before the offer expires.
Of course, Data Maintenance is not just about fixing addresses. It is about correcting data, removing redundant data, identifying duplicates, and also suppressing customers who don't wish to be contacted or are identified as deceased.
With the pandemic in mind, and with CCPA and other state legislature regarding the usage and accuracy of personal data coming to fruition over the coming months, the need to tread responsibly is more vital than ever. Loqate’s Data Maintenance solution can deliver accurate and up-to-date databases that work to combat the monetary cost of bad customer data and prevent drops in brand reputation that can impact the supply chain, internal employees, and most importantly, your customers.
To conclude – if you are considering using direct mail as a channel, speak to a company such as Loqate about combatting data decay and take the first step to ensure your direct mail has the best possibility to succeed.
Find out more about how Loqate’s Data Maintenance can help you communicate efficiently with your customers here.
-Rob Frost, Loqate's Propositions and Solutions Consultant