Direct mail is not dead. If you just read that last sentence and yawned, I’ll give you a few seconds to compose yourself again and wipe the tears of boredom from your eyes. Shall we continue?
Now, you’ve probably read about how “direct mail is not dead” in some form or other, perhaps a half a million times since the beginning of 2016. It’s a “hot” and “trendy” topic in marketing that has been “hot” and “trendy” for at least a few years now, and keeps poking its head out of the dirt like Punxatawney Phil around the beginning of February.
But, despite the relentless monotony of it all, the most important takeaway from all of this isn’t the fact that direct mail isn’t dead – it’s why direct mail (for all intents and purposes, the ancient-mosquito-trapped-in-amber of marketing’s Jurassic Park) is still alive and kicking.
One word comes to mind: Data.
1) Customer data is being leveraged to create more engaging – and more personalized – direct mail.
To the uninitiated, data is simply data. But to those of us who truly appreciate the power of information, data tells a story. And the more data you have, the more complete your story will be.
Of course, customer data tells the story of who your customers are: what they like, what they don’t like, where they live, even how they live. Now, more than ever before, this rich abundance of data is being used to create impactful direct mail pieces that truly speak to a brand’s audience in a personalized way that resonates.
2) The marriage of online data with the offline world allows brands to reach the audience they want to reach.
The execution of effective direct mail campaigns is vastly different today, in the age of Big Data, than it used to be – even in direct mail’s heyday. That’s because the online and offline worlds are coming together in a matrimony of data.
Gone are the days of blanket mailing an entire ZIP code based on years-old geographical census data. Now, brands can leverage online data to enhance and refine their direct mail campaigns, making sure they target the audience they want, with the right message, at the time when they will be most responsive to it. Ah, the power of data…
3) Using data to generate additional revenue through insert media.
Insert media has long been a low-cost, high-impact alternative to boosting revenue and customer acquisition efforts and leveraging the value of your customer data. Does your data tell you that a majority of your customers also happen to purchase shoes online from Zappos.com?
Data allows you to take advantage of that potential cross-promotional opportunity by placing an ad for your brand in their packages. Or maybe your data tells you that buyers of your product also frequently subscribe to National Geographic? Well, that sounds like an excellent opportunity to sell Nat Geo some advertising space in your product packaging, generating more revenue for you. Either way you look at it, it’s a win/win.
4) Data modeling and advanced closed-loop analytics can tell you exactly what is working and what isn’t – allowing you to refine and optimize your direct mail campaigns.
Without data, trying to figure out if your direct mail campaigns are actually working, is like trying to get dressed in the dark. Sure, you’ll eventually get it right, but you’ll be doing a whole lot of fumbling around foolishly before you get there. But with data – well, things get a whole lot easier. And your direct mail campaigns become a whole lot more effective.