The resurgence of direct mail as a marketing tool

Once upon a time, we were inundated with marketing messages in the post, and then along came email, a cheaper and faster alternative. However, in recent years we’ve seen direct mail start to enjoy a revival as marketers observe an increase in response rates that rival those of its digital cousin.

In 2016, direct mail response rates took a huge leap, resulting in a 5.3% rate for house lists and a 2.9% rate for prospect lists. These are the highest recorded response rates since 2003, impressive when compared with 2015 when the rates were 3.7% and 1% respectively. All figures were tracked by the Direct Marketing Association who provide unbiased research on direct mail and other marketing activities.

In fact, these 2016 figures were head and shoulders above digital alternatives, such as Online Display (0.9%), Email (0.45%) Social Media (0.6%), and Paid Search (0.5%). With numbers like these it’s no wonder that many in the B2B wholesale and manufacturing sectors have started to increase their direct mail campaigns and reap the rewards that come with it.

Targeting and personalisation

Taking a blanket mailing approach is not only irritating for the receiver, it’s also costly and degrades the response rate. Simply hoping your mailer hits the right audience by virtue of the sheer volume of pieces sent is old hat. By using the right targeting and providing personalised mailpieces the rate can be improved exponentially. It’s important to be providing a DM piece that’s relevant and interesting to the audience.

Enhanced quality

Now, we all remember the heady days of spam direct mail, and we would never suggest sending such campaigns. However, by applying modern content marketing theory and design to direct mail campaigns we’re seeing a much better quality of mailer in terms of style, content and presentation. This combined with the increased targeting and personalisation is helping to combat the perception of DM and resulting in the vastly improved response rate.

The right tool for the job

We’re not suggesting that we shun digital marketing at all. In fact, we’re simply stating that direct mail deserves its seat back at the marketing table. A DM campaign can be enhanced through the use of email, social media and PURLS, lending them some legitimacy and added weight. In addition, using modern digital techniques has improved the response options that were an issue with old school DM, nowadays recipients can reply via websites, emails and PURLS, amongst others. It’s all about providing the most user-friendly journey.

So with this information in mind, maybe it’s time to try direct mail for your next campaign. As the old saying goes, you can’t beat a classic!

Get in touch

Looking to try direct mail marketing for your business? Workhouse has the experience and expertise to drive real results for your business!


Give us a call on 01254 878956 or email hello@workhousemarketing.com.