10 Reasons Why Direct Mail’s Not Dead Yet

In the irreverent, cult classic movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, there’s a scene in which a mortician pushes a cart filled with people who have died from the Black Plague. As he shouts, “Bring out your dead,” another man emerges from his home with an old man slung over his shoulder. When he attempts to toss the man on the cart, he calls out “I’m not dead yet!” 

If you haven’t seen it, enjoy the laugh. If you have seen it, you may realize why it reminds me a little of the medium that was the cornerstone of Manzella Marketing when we began more than 30 years ago—direct mail. So, before you toss DM on the cart of dead media, here are 10 facts that show why it’s still alive and kicking.

  1. Direct mail is the second most used medium (57%), tied with social media. (Source: ANA/DMA Response Rate Report 2018
  2. Consumers trust the information they receive by mail to make purchasing decisions. In October 2016, MarketingSherpa asked 1,200 consumers, “In general which type of advertising channels do you trust more when you want to make a purchase decision?” Ads/Catalogs I receive in the mail ranked 3rd with 76% of those surveyed saying they trust direct mail when they want to make a purchase decision.
  3. Direct mail pulls a higher response rate than any digital direct marketing medium, ranging from about five to nine times greater than that of email, paid search, or social media. (Source: ANA/DMA Response Rate Report 2018
  4. The tangible aspect of direct mail leaves “a deeper footprint in the brain.” (Source: ”Using Neuroscience to Understand the Role of Direct Mail,” Millward Brown and Bangor University) This is a nerdy way of saying that there’s a tactile value to a medium you can touch, examine, read, digest, and return to at your own pace. It’s more real to the brain than images viewed on a screen.
  5. 75% of households usually read, scan, or read some of their direct mail advertising materials. (Source: The Household Diary Study 2016, USPS®, Table A8-15)  
  6. Across all ages, about four out of ten people (41%) actually look forward to checking their mail each day. (Source: 2015 Gallup Poll) On a personal note, my husband falls squarely into that 41%. We’re Boomers, so he’s not bucking any trends here (see #7). He also wants to hold the newspaper he reads from cover to cover each day and prefers hardcover books to ebooks. Again, there’s undeniable value to materials that can be physically handled, and they’re “better at becoming part of memory.”
  7. Speaking of Boomers, according to a MarketingCharts study, direct mail was found to be the top purchase influencer among Baby Boomers. It even beat out recommendations from friends and family. (Source: Direct Mail A Top Purchase Influencer For Baby Boomers
  8. And not ALL millennials ignore what they refer to as “snail mail”. 36% of people under 30 look forward to checking their mail each day. (Source: 2015 Gallup Poll
  9. Direct mail response rates are better than other direct marketing media and have actually improved over time. In 2017 the DMA reported that direct mail’s response rate was 2.9% for Prospect Lists and 5.1% for House Lists. Back in 2015, the Response Rates prospect and House Lists were 1.0% and 3.7%, respectively. (Source: DMA Response Rate Report 2017) This increase may reflect the ever-improving reliability of data that’s available to us for targeting mailing lists, much of which comes from self-reported sources such as surveys and buying activity.
  10. Direct mail gives you plenty of creative license. While postcards and #10 envelope packages may seem to fill your mailbox, there are a lot of arrows in the direct mail quiver. From self mailers with elaborate folds and die cuts to creative 3D packages, we have endless choices of formats.

At Manzella, we believe in the benefits of using multiple tactics—both digital and traditional print media—to achieve the best results. So, if you’ve been avoiding direct mail because it’s a dying medium, just remember it’s not dead yet! And it looks healthy for the long term.

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