How Direct Mail Has Come Full Circle

Ever notice how the size of mobile phones went from enormous to tiny and back to enormous again? We’re not even talking about the Zack Morris “portable phone” of nearly 30 years ago. From the late 90s to the mid-2000s, mobile phones shrank from the size of traditional desk phone handsets, to flip phones, to candy bar-sized devices that you could barely see when in use.

With the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, audio started taking a backseat to browsing, graphics, and video, and phone screens started getting bigger. Today’s phones look like mini-tablets and can barely fit into your back pocket. Mobile phones have come full circle.

Direct mail has followed a similar path – not the size of mailings, but the perception of direct mail’s effectiveness.

30 years ago, direct mail was among the core advertising channels, along with TV, radio, and newspaper/magazine ads. When the internet moved into not only every household, but the hands of every consumer, advertising experts predicted digital advertising would reign and traditional channels, now considered “old media,” would become virtually obsolete.

After all, digital was cheaper and easier to track. By the late 90s and early 2000s, ad spend was quickly shifting online. Direct mail was no less effective than it had ever been, but many marketers started chasing shiny new objects, such as display, social media, and mobile.

Here we are in 2020 and direct mail response rates are actually getting better, as we pointed out in our last blog article about direct mail statistics.

Wait a minute. How did that happen?!

Well, the digital universe has become saturated. Many ads are seen for a split second, and users often take steps to avoid seeing ads at all. On the other hand, total mail volume declined by nearly 30 percent from 2006–2017, according to the USPS. People don’t send and receive nearly as many paper letters or bills. In fact, the average household receives just two pieces of mail per day.

Less competition means better response. And you won’t download a virus when you open your mail.

There are dozens of reasons why direct mail works and makes digital marketing more effective when the two are combined. The larger point is that direct mail has come full circle as technology and consumer habits have evolved. It’s more effective than it has ever been and shows no signs of slowing down.

What’s old is new again.

In other news, sales of vinyl records were forecast to surpass CD sales in 2019 for the first time since 1986. Pardon us while we drop the needle on a new album, grab a cup of coffee, and look through today’s mail.

Let’s discuss how direct mail can be integrated with your overall marketing strategy, including digital, to deliver better results. Contact us to schedule a consultation and unleash the power of Digital Dog Direct.