You never know whom you’ll sit next to on an airplane. During my last trip I sat next to the gentleman who heads up public relations for the Minnesota DNR (that’s a big job in our Land of 10,000 Lakes!)

After learning what I did for a living he probed about the efficacy of direct mail in today’s digital world. Here’s what I said…

It certainly is easy to get caught up in the next hot digital trend. And don’t get me wrong. We always recommend a thoughtful online strategy be part of your direct-marketing plan. But don’t ignore direct mail.

Yes, I know that direct mail is more expensive than e-mail but when used wisely, direct mail outperforms many tactics, particularly with prospects and most certainly in some customer segments (i.e. active-aging consumers.) Here are 3 reasons why:

 1. Direct mail is an active, intrusive and tactile format

Customers may find their way to your site, but a catalog or a direct mail piece in their mailbox is an intrusive tap on the shoulder. When done well, direct mail appeals to the senses and stands out even in a crowded mailbox.

 2. There’s something magical about seeing your name in print

Personalization is no longer an expensive option. When we creatively incorporate the customer’s name into a direct mail piece, the results can really be worth the effort.

 3. A wealth of interesting format options

Email blasts are pretty much a one-size-fits-all. But direct mail offers many different sizes, shapes and dimensions. You can even embed video into your direct mail piece!

Research backs this up: 70%-90% survey respondents from ALL age groups admitted to making a purchase because of direct mail… even if they made the purchase online.

The important take away is this: direct mail should be in your mix. Definitely use email to pre-announce your mailing or remind customers of offer deadlines, but get creative with your integration. Remember that several channels working together can be powerful!