How COVID-19 is Bringing Direct Mail Back to Life


Marketing Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Marketing pros

Monday, June 28, 2021

Direct mail has enjoyed a resurgence during the COVID-19 pandemic. What's behind this, and how can your firm take advantage?

Article 4 Minutes
How COVID-19 is Bringing Direct Mail Back to Life

Direct mail marketing is seen nowadays as an old-fashioned way of getting a brand's message out there. Traditional door drops have largely been replaced by digital channels such as email newsletters and social media posting, which offer the potential to reach large audiences faster and at lower costs.

But this doesn't mean there's no place in the modern environment for physical mailers. In fact, the unique circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic have actually led to a resurgence in the popularity of this method of marketing.

Businesses have found that this offers a great opportunity to keep in touch with customers in these trying times and are enjoying significantly improved ROIs as a result. So what are the reasons behind this?

The rising interest in direct mail marketing

One theory is that with people spending more time at home in lockdown, they have more chances to interact with these materials. Research by Jicmail, for instance, found COVID-19 restrictions have contributed to an 11% increase in the number of times a piece of direct mail was interacted with compared with 2019.

It also found overall interaction with mail was up by 14%, while government door-drops have outperformed the wider market. These items are interacted with an average of 4.21 times and have an in-home lifespan of up to 9.5 days.

It's also especially useful for organizations that have seen other forms of marketing curtailed by the pandemic. Charities, for instance, may now find it more difficult to engage potential donors face-to-face, so are increasingly turning to direct mail as a way to keep their name visible.

In some cases, the results of this have been excellent. One charity reported receiving £37,000 ($51,000) in phone donations in the first week of a door-drop campaign, while a food company saw an increase of 40% over its forecasted response in the first few weeks of its activity.

The benefits of a good direct mail marketing campaign

There are several reasons why direct mail can still be a good strategy for organizations in the new world we live in. First and foremost, having a physical presence in your customers' homes that they’ll interact with on a daily basis keeps your brand at the front of their minds and leaves them with a more positive impression.

It's also a good way to cut through the noise. For example, the average American receives over 600 emails a week, but only 16.8 pieces of physical mail. What's more, while emails are often discarded with barely a moment's thought, direct mail has staying power. The average lifespan of an email is 17 seconds, compared to direct mail’s 17 days.

In addition to this, people still enjoy receiving mail. Research by Royal Mail found 55% of consumers said they preferred these items, compared with only 25% who’d rather receive messages via email. What's more, 35% more people responded to vouchers or coupons received via direct mail as opposed to those sent by email.

This translates into a strong return on investment for direct mail efforts, even when the costs of mailing leaflets, brochures or other items are taken into account. Overall, direct mail delivered to homes has a response rate of 5.3%, compared with around 0.6% for email.

How could companies take advantage?

However, you still need to execute this strategy well to see a return. Boring, persistent or irritating direct mail marketing will head straight to the trash, so there are a few key things you need to keep in mind in order to be successful. These include:

  • Target the right audience: It's vital you narrow down your mailing lists to the most likely respondents to avoid wasting money on sending mail to less interested people. At the same time, ensure the address data you have is accurate - every undeliverable piece of mail is money down the drain.
  • Focus on the design: Eye-catching, creative designs are a must. Make sure the images are engaging and relevant and not obvious stock photos, as these will be the first thing your audience is drawn to.
  • Make the right offer: Tailor your offers to your audience and make sure they're simple to understand and easy to follow up on. The more steps readers have to take, the fewer responses you'll get, so keep things direct.

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