Direct mail isn’t dead, even in 2018

Direct mail is a phrase that many business owners or marketers don’t expect to hear in 2018. 

However, with the right strategy, direct mail can be an effective complement to your digital marketing efforts.

What is direct mail?

First, what is direct mail anyway? Young marketing professionals may not even be familiar with the term. Direct mail refers to the practice of sending physical mail to potential customers based on demographic data like location, age, gender, industry, job title, household income and more.

How does it work?

Like digital marketing tactics, the effectiveness of direct mail marketing relies on getting the right message to the right person at the right time. Direct mail changes the location of your communication with potential customers to the physical world, rather than the digital world inside a screen.

Because direct mail is delivered directly into your potential customers hands rather than their inbox, the experience can feel much more immediate and personal if done correctly. For example, one Chamber staff member recently received a great example of direct mail marketing from a PR firm that specializes in economic development. The company did their research to find the most appropriate contact and created a personalized magazine cover and mailed it along with a handwritten note.

When I say we were excited about this, I mean it. We spent a good 5 minutes talking about how unique this marketing approach was. As a marketer, it struck me that this was the first time in a long time that I had been truly surprised, and delighted, by a marketing tactic.

While not every business has the time, budget or talent to create a personalized magazine cover to send to their potential customers, there are lessons to be learned in this example:

  • Creativity – The magazine cover is unexpected and flattering, a great combination! Think outside the box and consider what you’d enjoy receiving in the mail when brainstorming direct mail marketing ideas.
  • Personalization – The message and execution were incredibly personalized to the recipient. Sending direct mail that speaks directly to your target market is essential.
  • Value – The visual and the handwritten note go together to illustrate the business’ value proposition: we can put Nashville on magazine covers. Make sure your direct mail campaigns demonstrate your value to the customer too.

Which businesses can benefit the most?

Direct mail marketing can work for almost any business, whether the company offers B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer) services or products. However, the best results for direct mail campaigns will come when the data used to send the direct mail piece is accurate and specific enough to target an effective segment of your audience.

This means finding a reliable source of data. There are plenty of companies that offer direct mail marketing lists, some more effective than others. A good place to start is with our Chamber members that provide direct mail services like:

However, there are certain industries that may find more success with direct mail than others based on how their customers interact with their business. Some industries that could benefit significantly from direct mail campaigns are:

  • Restaurants – Sending coupons and special offers to a certain customer type or location in which you’re expanding
  • Real estate – Keeping yourself top of mind when homeowners decide to sell
  • Home-centered services like cleaning or landscaping – Reach your customers where your services are needed
  • B2B services – Direct mail sent to a customer’s office could have less competition for their attention than an email, especially if it’s addressed to a particular employee

How do I integrate direct mail into my digital strategy?

Direct mail campaigns can be a great piece of the puzzle and sometimes has advantages over digital strategies. But direct mail shouldn’t be the entirety of your marketing plan. The most effective direct mail campaigns will be part of a larger, robust marketing strategy whose pieces all work together.

If you’d like to integrate direct mail into your digital marketing strategy, consider the following tips:

  1. Be consistent: Your direct mail campaign and digital marketing should be targeting the same audience. By targeting these customers on multiple platforms, and both online and offline, you increase your chances of reaching the right person at the right time. If you aren’t consistent with your targeting, your results will be unreliable.
  2. Be experiential: The personal, tactile nature of direct mail means you need to pay attention to the experience your customers will be having – and extend that experience online. By making your direct mail an extension of an online experience, you can move the customer from the real world to making an online conversion or response more efficiently.
  3. Be intentional: Direct mail won’t work for every campaign or every target market. Think carefully about your customers and their needs carefully before jumping into direct mail. Making intentional choices about when to use this tactic, namely when you want to make a more personal connection, will keep your direct mail efforts from becoming stale or unoriginal.

How can the Chamber help?

If you are a Chamber member, you have access to a mailing list of Chamber members with demographic data like industry and zip code that is perfect for beginning your direct mail marketing efforts. For members at the Belong ($500) level, this mailing list is available for just $50. All member at the Engage ($1,500) level or higher can access this mailing list at any time for free in their member portal.

If you’d like to learn more about membership, fill out the form below to download a guide to our membership benefits and levels.

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