My 49 Cents on Direct Mail

Direct mail delivers. Not just on its own, but especially as part of an omnichannel campaign. And not just as a retention tool, but also as an acquisition device.

There’s no shortage of research highlighting direct mail’s performance and growth. Consider, for example, Direct Marketing Association’s research findings that say the response rate for direct mail catalogs to a house list is 4.26%, while the email response rate is a mere .12%. Not surprising, considering that 70% of U.S. consumers surveyed by Cohber believe that direct mail is more personal than email. It’s no wonder, then, that 84% of marketers surveyed by Experian conducted print marketing campaigns last year.

According to Winterberry Group, direct mail spending grew 2.7% in 2014; the strategic consulting firm’s prediction was for 1.1% growth. “We’re seeing more innovative uses of direct mail,” says Bruce Biegel, Winterberry Group’s senior managing director. Biegel expects direct mail costs to stay steady in 2015 and a projected 1% growth to come from volume increases instead. Winterberry Group’s prediction for direct mail spending in 2015 is $45.7 billion, up from $45.2 billion in 2014.

There’s also plenty of media coverage on the many digital and e-commerce companies that are adding direct mail and catalogs to their marketing mix—including our own. Our March 2015 issue cover story, “Stoking the Fire of Marketing Innovation,” features a profile of Klick Health, a digital agency, which captured our 2015 Marketing&Tech Innovation Award for Digital-Print Innovation. As DMN Senior Editor Natasha D. Smith writes in the article, “Rather than tell potential clients about the agency’s digital marketing services, marketers at Klick Health decided to show them. The team created a glossy, 193-page hardcover book that took readers on the journey of a fictitious client, Rellyant, [and] gave a sense of what digital marketers at Klick could do for them…. It included an embedded seven-inch LCD monitor inside the cover [that] featured videos, such as a welcome message from Klick’s CEO, and infused a digital element into an otherwise traditional book. The agency sent copies to more than 2,200 marketers who requested it.”

The book won Klick Health more than an award. The agency captured about $20 million in new business, at more than a 330% return on investment. “Through this campaign, we were trying to show that digital and print are merging and that leadership in print could come from digital thinking,” Peter Flaschner, SVP of customer experience at Klick Health, told DMN‘s Smith. “You can, in fact, combine moving images and sound with something as traditional as print.”

Veteran direct mailer JCPenney has garnered its fair share of press recently, as well, on the relaunch and restyling of its venerable catalog. Why bring back the tome after a five-year hiatus? The retailer’s analyses showed a clear link between the catalog and its other channels, Eric Krell writes in “Direct Mail Adds Dimension to Marketing” (page 10). In fact, he writes, “JCPenney believes that its omnichannel strategy presents an $800 million sales opportunity.”

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