What happened to direct mail?
direct mail and postage rates

A funny thing happened to that dinosaur of the 20th century: Direct mail has re-emerged as a sophisticated marketing tool. In fact, many smart marketers never abandoned it.


While standard-class mail volume took a sharp decline after the financial crisis of 2008 (when credit card and subprime lending offers had been king of the mailbox), it has held steady ever since. Winterberry Group said:

  • Direct mail marketing spend increased 2.7% to $45.2 billion in 2014
  • Direct mail marketing spend was predicted to grow 1% to $45.7 billion in 2015


And now postage rates have decreased for the first time in 93 years. It may be time to take advantage of that 4.3% decrease—or even one of the Postal Service’s incentive programs.


So why has this information slipped under the radar?


Many novice marketers believe direct mail is much too expensive. And they have a point. Direct mail costs are high in terms of how many people you reach per dollar spent. But direct mail is also far more efficient and effective in bringing in sales than other media, except perhaps telemarketing and search. But search marketing is limited to those who already know about your product. And telemarketing is expensive and annoying. Many people actually like getting mail.


It’s a multi-channel world—and direct mail is a fantastic channel for marketers.


What can you do to make direct mail work hard for your brand?


In the past several years, direct mail marketers have not stood still. We have incorporated many logistical improvements that have helped us reduce costs for our clients. And we have acquired a number of tools built around our audience’s online activities that allow us to refine our targeting even further.


You need outside expertise to make the logistics work for you. Outsourcing allows you to:


  • Leverage volume to reduce costs
  • Improve quality based on your provider’s experience
  • Keep your staff focused on core business functions


Of course, your agency can also provide expertise in strategic direction, data services and creative development. Those things may be difficult to replicate in-house.