Is Direct Mail a thing of the past?

By Sarah Anthony
Account Manager
November 2017

Is direct mail a thing of the past?

In an effort to become more organised, and to reduce the size of my inbox, I reviewed all the updates, newsletters and emails I receive. Without including the emails that end up in my junk folder, I noticed that I delete almost half of them without even opening them and the other half are quickly glanced at before deciding whether I am going to save and action later. This got me thinking, and I realised that the amount of direct mail filling my recycle bin has significantly reduced as my inbox has grown. Is direct mail now a thing of the past and is it really needed in a forever increasing world of digital communication?

Well, I never thought I’d be in this school of thought but I actually like receiving something in the post. Direct mail makes me feel valued as a customer. A flashy brochure of gift ideas, especially at this time of year, is a must read for me. There’s nothing more relaxing than getting my feet up in front of the fire with a cup of tea planning what I’m going to add to the Christmas shopping list and likewise for offers and promotions that I receive from supermarkets (these are stashed away ready for the next weekly shop, in the hope that I will reduce my weekly food bill).

Thinking about it, it’s interesting that direct mail drives me to the company’s website - yes, a click through from an email to a website may be quick but if there is something that’s appealing, I will look regardless of how I have been communicated to. Just because I receive direct mail does not mean I won’t shop online and vice versa.

Research reports:

  • 70% of us feel that we receive too many emails (1)
  • 51% of emails sent are deleted within 2 seconds (2)
  • 17 days is the average number of days that we keep direct mail for (3)
  • 51% of us prefer to use a combination of both email and mail (1)
  • 65% like to browse through both catalogues and online before making a purchase (4)

So is direct mail the only way I want to be marketed to? No definitely not, for me there is a time and place for email and direct mail, depending on the circumstances and the message. An apology email explaining that there was an issue with a website during sale preview is great, where as a reactivation mailing through the post, telling me that I am missed is far more likely to get me spending and makes me feel more valued as a customer.

Statistics show when you combine email and direct mail:

  • 13% more customers visited sender’s website (1)
  • 21% more customers made a purchase (1)
  • 35% more customers redeemed coupons or vouchers compared to using email only (1)
When deciding what channels to communicate with customers don’t just assume that because they’ve responded to email in the past that they won’t want to receive direct mail. Take in to consideration what the message is conveying and what call to action you want them to take. Maybe it’s not one channel over the other, but both!



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Royal Mail MarketReach, Mail and Digital Part 1, Quadrangle 2013 (1)
Litmus Email Analytics, 2013 (2)
Royal Mail MarketReach, Media Moments Ethnographic Quant, Brass Insight 2014 (3)
Royal Mail MarketReach, Print Catalogues in a Digital World, Illuminas 2013 (4)