Is Direct Mail Dead? - Industrial Marketing Insights

Is Direct Mail Dead?

Any industrial marketing professional knows, the movement towards online marketing promotional activities continues to grow. Whether you choose to utilize the latest marketing automation software, or are sticking to tried and true email marketing, online marketing continues to grow at an incredible rate.

So in today’s wondrous world of online marketing is direct mail dead?

While marketing automation software and email do have a huge role to play in your arsenal of marketing tactics they do not make direct mail dead. In fact, I would argue that direct mail is working better than ever.

So what is the best way for you to decide whether to use direct mail or online marketing for your next promotion?

Understand the critical difference between efficient and effective
One of the key distinctions you need to make when choosing any marketing tactic is to consider the difference between efficient and effective. Now most everyone knows that sending out an email blast is efficient. At the risk of a gross oversimplification you select your list then send out your message. A few clicks are all that it takes and your message can go out to any size list in minutes. Now that is efficient.

Now contrast the ease of email with the work that goes into direct mail. When you put together a traditional direct mail campaign you need to concern yourself with things like printing and delivery to the letter shop. Additionally you need to concern yourself with the ever-increasing price of postage. By the time all of these costs are weighed in you can easily end up with mailings that can cost two dollars per piece. This is far more expensive than emailing, even if you factor in the cost (and are willing to take the risk) of renting an opt-in emailing list.

Or is it?

As with all industrial marketing your choice of tactics must be based on measuring your test results. Ultimately your test needs to answer the following question, did your email campaign or your direct mail campaign result in more sales-ready leads?

The fact is that if the majority of your emails were ignored, which is becoming increasingly common with today’s over-filled email in boxes, then does it really matter how efficient email is? I would suggest its efficiency is virtually useless.

If the initial costs of your direct mail campaign were ten times those of your email campaign and you get better end results does the effectiveness of direct mail trump the efficiency of email marketing? Well clearly it does.

As an industrial marketer you must be more concerned with what is most effective. What you may discover through your own testing is that the upfront costs in direct mail are more than offset by its results.

With the dramatic decrease in postal mail volumes direct mail sticks out like a sore thumb. I like to tell my clients that it just may be that direct mail is being read today because of its novelty. But regardless of why it is being read, the fact that it is being read (and acted on) is proof that direct mail is not dead.


Andrew is the president of Broadfield Communications. When he's not working he likes reading history and biographies. He enjoys classic cars, music, and everything about rural settings. He loves to travel the world.