Posts Tagged ‘direct mail’

A Strong Case for Direct Mail

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

By Jim DiProspero, Vice President
Specialists Marketing Services, Inc.

With limited budgets of both time and money, where can I get the most bang for my advertising buck? Business owners continue to ask this question with an increasing volume of choices powered by the proliferation of social media sites and digital advertising opportunities.

Any company seeking new business today has a wide variety of media choices, from print, radio/TV, web sites and social media. Continuing research has shown that one of the most cost effective forms of getting new business is through good, consistent, targeted direct mail. Targeted direct mail lists have several advantages that make them unique. If you know your best customers, then you can use targeted direct mail to reach more of them and generate qualified new business leads. This applies to traditional brick and mortar stores, professionals, or even start up web sites.

Direct mail has the advantage of being perceived as the least intrusive and therefore the most welcome type of advertising. Several studies over the years confirm that most people prefer direct mail to other types of advertising. A recent article, “The Future is Now” in the industry magazine Deliver makes a strong case in support of this. Furthermore, there is less competition in the mail box (due to increasing diversification of marketing budgets online), and this may often lift response.

Unlike an e-mail or SMS text message which can be deleted by the push of a button there seems to be something about a direct mail piece, be it a postcard or a letter that conveys legitimacy on the part of the mailer and encourages the recipient to keep it.

There are a few tried and true techniques that should be employed, or at least tested, on your direct mail campaign

  1. Have a clear call to action. Give your direct mail recipients a compelling reason to contact you.
  2. Make an offer they can’t refuse. Give them something such as a discount or a two for one offer — something to entice them to try your product or service.
  3. Include an expiration date on the offer.

Probably the most important advantage of direct mail is the ability to precisely target audiences better then other forms of advertising. This is due to the lists and data that power its distribution to the right audience. No other channel (online or offline) has the wealth of acquisition data to drive lifetime value (LTV). Although many online advertising sources are real-time, they are often lacking in regards to the big picture of a customer’s purchase (or giving in the case of non-profits) behavior over time.

You may have the most relevant message, and your printing and graphics may be the best money can buy, but the single most important element in the success or failure of your marketing efforts is your selection of the most targeted and appropriate mailing list.

Targeting of your most concise audience is paramount. It many cases it is not enough to target by demographics like age and income you need to target by affinity or interest.

In response to the splintering of the homogenous mass market of yesterday, list marketers have been working at identifying the moving targets and shifting trends of the market place. There are literally hundreds of different lists available to target just about any niche market or affinity group you can think of.

Specialists Marketing Services recently launched a new mailing lists search portal for its Direct Data Division that provides visitors with easy access to rate cards and information about specialty lists and data.

Here you can find an audience for just about any product or service. Keep in mind, you want to reach as many qualified prospects as you can without wasting your message on those who are not interested or can’t purchase your product — targeted direct mail does just that.

If offline marketing with direct mail is not part of your overall mix, then you may be sacrificing LTV at the expense of impressions and clicks. An integrated approach is best.

End the debate. Snail mail is here to stay.

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Marketers are now realizing that abandoning direct mail for digital media may have negative consequences for return on investment (ROI), and the impact may be worse than expected. When budgets are tight, it’s harder to see the forest from the trees, and it’s easier to make cuts with less regard for lifetime value (LTV). Fortunately, information spreads fast nowadays so we get to hear pretty quickly what others have learned from their mistakes. Conversely, there are a few mailers that kept quiet about their success with direct mail in 2009 due to the positive implications of fewer competitors’ offers in the box. (more…)

Digital vs. direct mail in 2010

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

DM News article "Digital Shines in 2010" predicts the continued rise of digital spending as a share of total marketing dollars. Two interesting takeaways from a direct mail perspective:

#1) Digital is stealing share away from direct mail

"Just like in the old days, direct marketing used to be the safe haven because it provides quick, measurable results. Online has assumed that safe haven role now," said Adam Smith, futures director at GroupM.

#2) Digital is more measurable than direct mail

"If we send a direct mailer, it's an absolute impression, but is it as trackable? Will the consumer, for example, type It's fuzzy. Some people do and others don't," [Stormy Simon, SVP of marketing and customer care for] explained. "But I do know that when I spend on online marketing, I'm able to say 'I spent a penny and I got a penny [back].'"

The hallmark of direct mail has always been accountability. Digital is beating it at it's own game. The challenge to direct mail is to prove ROI superiority if it is to hold onto a significant portion of advertising expenditures.

See full article here:

Going ‘Postal’ is No Longer Insane

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Going postal in 2010 may be the best decision you make. There’s less competition in direct mail, and there’s less clutter in the box! There is also much more information available today about the prospects on consumer and b2b mailing lists.

Here’s a guest post from Jim Gilbert of Gilbert Direct Marketing, with some initial optimism regarding a freeze on postage rates next year for dominant classes:

From Jim,

Over the last three years, I’ve been super vocal about my dislike for the U.S. Postal Service and its less-than-forward-thinking bureaucracy. When it slammed catalog mailers with 20 percent-plus postage increases in 2007, I went (pun intended) postal on it. (more…)

Mailing list quality vs. data card quality — what’s the difference?

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

It's simple. A data card is the marketing document that describes a mailing list.

A quality data card does not guarantee a quality mailing list, but you can have a top quality list that is neglected from a marketing perspective (i.e. a poor quality data card). First impressions count, and the data card is most often the first impression that a broker or mailer receives when researching new test lists for a direct marketing campaign.

To be blunt – you wouldn't serve a T-bone on a trash can lid, would you?

I'm not sure everyone thinks this way when it comes to data cards. The t-bone steak represents a quality mailing list with an exceptional test-to-continuation ratio. The trash can lid represents a neglected data card for that same mailing list. Think about this analogy from the perspective of a list broker or mailer.

You select a mailing list of active subscribers that matches your customer profile. The mailing list is marketed by a credible list manager with industry knowledge, a proven track record for customer service, and a diverse portfolio of quality response list titles. Futhermore, the mailing list you selected is known for its success in delivering above average response rates and lifetime value. You are ready to add this list title to your client's new test recommendation.

Not so fast! You notice that the data card has not been updated in over 6 months. Furthermore, you are ordering a monthly hotline so you have no idea what range the counts will be in.

Needless to say, you're likely to question the validity of the information. You may wonder if the mailing list is still available for rental, or you may find out that the owner of the data card is no longer the list manager because they lost the business to a competitor and never deactivated their version of the data card. That's obviously not something the former list manager would want to promote in the public domain, but it happens.

What's the take-away in all of this? It's simple. Keep your data cards up-to-date with quality information on all of the list research channels, especially in the public domain where your content is most visible.

A ranking of list managers by data card quality is published quarterly.


Saving Direct Mail — One Video at a Time

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

It's a fact. The mailing lists you choose will determine the success of your marketing campaign. There are more than 60,000 active postal lists, email lists, and insert media programs on the market today. NextMark is helping you find them, one video at a time.

NextMark technology makes it easier to find better lists, and get marketing services providers connected online.

Is Direct Mail Doomed?

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Direct Mail Falls, E-mail Soars (May '09) MediaPost just published a story entitled "Direct Mail Doomed, Long Live Email" which covers research by Borrell Associates entitled "Direct Mail Falls, E-mail Soars (May '09)". As you might guess from the title, the story spells the demise of direct mail:

After making quick work of print newspapers, and the Yellow Pages industry, "The kudzu-like creep of the Internet is about to claim its third analog victim," warns a new report from research firm Borrell Associates. The victim? "The largest and least-read of all print media: Direct mail."

"Direct mail has begun spiraling into what we believe is a precipitous decline from which it will never fully recover," Borrell predicts. More specifically, it is projecting a 39% decline for direct mail over the next five years, from $49.7 billion in annual ad spending in 2008 to $29.8 billion by the end of 2013.

If Borrell is correct, direct mail will fall from the premiere placeholder for ad revenue to the fourth — behind the Web, broadcast TV, and newspapers.

Is direct mail really doomed?

The financial situation of the USPS is certainly a recipe for disaster: they seem to be in a "death spiral" where their cost burdens drive up postage which drives down direct mail ROI which reduces revenue and profit which drives postage higher (repeat…). Electronic bill presentment and bill paying is taking a big chunk out of the USPS pocketbook. Credit card mailers have pulled back significantly because of their own problems. The USPS' list of financial problems is long and getting longer every day.

Cross-selling, up-selling, and retention programs (i.e. marketing to current customers) can be very effective through email if done right. This reduces demand for direct mail.

However, prospecting for new customers through email often fails miserably (particularly when the wrong mailing lists are chosen). This is where direct mail still shines despite the all the economic challenges of getting direct mail to the mail box. Response rates, average order, and ROI are higher with direct mail prospecting programs. With good mailing lists, results are even better.

What do you think? Can prospecting save direct mail? Or will spiraling postage and other cost increases eventually make direct mail inviable?

Are you going postal? You should be… (Winterberry Group)

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

The Winterberry Group has just released a white paper reporting the first decline in direct mail spending in recorded history starting in 1945. The white paper, entitled A Channel in Transformation: Vertical Market Trends in Direct Mail 2009, is the New York-based consulting firm’s fifth annual study of trends in direct mail media. It stresses the importance of the trends away from "mass" and towards "targeted" direct mail programs:

"Squarely impacted by the “triple assault” of the recession, rising postage rates and growing marketer preference for low-cost digital communications, total U.S. direct mail spending declined sharply in 2008—falling 3.0 percent—and was accompanied by an even more significant cutback in mail volume"


"The accelerating shift from “mass” to “targeted” direct mail programs has been enabled by an increasingly powerful array of marketing automation technologies, many of which are making their way into the toolsets of marketers both large and small."


“The dramatic events of the last few years have come home to roost for direct mail. Postal shocks, environmental pressure, recession, media consumption shifts and enhanced targeting tools have brought about an end to the ‘batch-blast’ era of direct mail,” said Bruce Biegel, Winterberry Group’s senior managing director. “In the face of exceptionally challenging conditions, it is apparent that mailers have shifted their focus to lower-volume, more targeted and higher-value campaigns, with traffic generation to the store, Web and call center being the primary objective. In turn, this shift is generating a realignment of the supplier community and the marketing operations process—opening the door for more and better integrated marketing over the next several years.”

A Channel in Transformation: Vertical Market Trends in Direct Mail is available for complimentary download via the Research page of Winterberry Group’s Web site, located at

So what are these automation technologies that will enable you to survive and thrive in this scary new world?

First, consider the fact that your choice of mailing lists is a very significant factor in the outcome of every direct marketing program. Experts attribute more than 40% of the success of direct marketing to your choice of mailing lists:


As Winterberry reported, it's even more important than ever to be targeted in your marketing. Direct mail is one of the few channels that enables this level of precision.

Good news!… in the last few years, there's been innovations in technology that can help you find better mailing lists. A great example is NextMark's Mailing Lists Search Tool.

And the best part? It's free.

Access to this information and technology used to be hidden behind passwords and high user fees. Now, thanks to Marketing Freeconomics, you get it for free.

Now is a great time to be in the mail. There's less noise and competition. There's better tools. If you do a good job with your targeting, you will be positioned for growth. Start today by finding some great mailing lists!

Email or Zairmail? NextMark Makes It EZ

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

NextMark has found a new partner to help you create and send direct mail! If you are looking for an email list then the email list finder is a great place to start. However, if you would like to create and send direct mail through the USPS, then take a visit to Zairmail. NextMark's new affiliate partner provides you with online tools that make direct mail easy.

Email List Finder

Did you know that you can find information on over 15,000 e-mail lists using the free mailing lists search tool?

Did you know that you can also find information on over 55,000 postal mailing lists using the free mailing lists search tool?

 Zairmail 123

You now have convenient access to targeted mailing lists, direct mail and postcard templates, and everything else you need to grow your business using direct mail marketing. There is also a free sample mail kit that contains all the information you need to get your direct mail campaigns off the ground.

Real Mail Made Easy