Businesses and nonprofits have successfully used direct mail to appeal to their audience for years. And, lest you believe rumors to the contrary, this remains true today—even in this age of digital communication.

Is direct mail effective?

While you may think that direct mail is more attractive to older generations, studies show that millennials are more responsive to direct mail compared to Gen X and Baby Boomers. Why? Because 70% of Americans believe that physical mail is more personal than the internet, especially those who grew up with all things digital. Your audience wants to feel like you care, and that your communication is just for them. You can accomplish that easily with direct mail.


70% of people believe physical mail is more personal


The reasons why people respond to direct mail has to do with neuroscience, actually. Your brain responds to print a lot differently than it does to digital. A study performed by the U.S. Postal Service on consumers ranging from 19 to 68 years old showed that:

  • Print ads were more effective than digital ads in leaving a lasting impression across all age groups.
  • Participants of all ages spent more time processing print ads.
  • For younger adults, emotional print ads were more effective than functional ads.
  • Functional print ads were more effective for older adults.

5 reasons why direct mail still works.

Direct mail is alive and well. If you’ve wondered whether to pull your direct mail efforts from your marketing strategy, here are five reasons not to (and how it can serve to bridge your offline and online worlds).

1. It is targeted.

example of variable data printing

Direct mail marketing allows you to reach a specific segment of your audience so that your communication is targeted at the people most likely to listen. When you add in variable data printing, each piece can be individually customized. To take it a step further, you can also create landing pages that correspond with your direct mail and specifically target each segment so that your messaging speaks to the right people at the right time. Direct mail is an effective way to drive traffic to your website—not just your homepage, but to a landing page with a strong, focused call to action.


2. It is amplified with digital marketing.

Good direct mail pieces invite the reader to respond, whether it’s by making a purchase, scanning a QR code, connecting on social media or volunteering for your organization. As people respond, you can build a database along with their interests, habits and history of involvement, then create a follow-up plan based on those things.

When direct mail and digital marketing are combined, you’re likely to see the following happen according to a USPS Future of Direct Mail study:

  • 40% conversion rates.
  • 68% increased website visits.
  • 63% increased response rates.
  • 60% increased ROI.
  • 53% increased leads.
  • 39% increased traffic to a physical store or location.


direct mail is most successful when combined with digital marketing


3. It can’t be ignored.

There is one way for people to sort mail—by looking at it. There’s no “delete” button inside a mailbox. In fact, the average lifespan of an email is 17 seconds, compared to direct mail’s average lifespan of 17 days.

Creating a unique piece that appears more interesting (oversized, bulky, colorful, etc.) will increase the chances that it’ll get noticed. According to the Data & Marketing Association, oversized envelopes have a 5% response rate—the highest of them all. Whatever you choose, just be sure to always include your website on every piece so that people know where to go for more information or take action. Also, invite them to connect with you on your social networks.


oversized envelopes have a high response rate


4. It is enjoyable.

Yes, you read that right. Many people actually look forward to checking their mail each day. Email inboxes have become the new overstuffed mailbox. Plus, there’s something to be said for having a tangible piece to hold, with your name written on it.

For your next event, try sending out printed invitations along with an email invite—bonus points if you can recruit your team to add a handwritten note. Your audience will love receiving something so personalized in their mailboxes.


receiving mail is a real pleasure for some people


5. It can reach those who don’t spend much time online.

It may seem hard to believe, but not everyone is engaged on social media 24/7 or checks their email every 30 minutes. There are still some who prefer to engage with others in person or over the phone and refuse to get wrapped up in the digital world. These people may still be inclined to visit your website, but they may miss your digital messages—they are a prime audience for direct mail. Reach them via their mailboxes, then invite them to learn more about your organization by visiting your website or signing up for your newsletter.

How can I effectively use direct mail marketing?

If you’ve pulled back on your direct mail efforts, you might want to rethink your marketing strategy and consider how you can use printed pieces to reach people in a targeted, unique way and then drive them to engage with you online. A combination of digital and non-digital marketing channels will be your most effective strategy for engagement and, ultimately, more revenue.

At Firespring, we offer a unique combo of strategy, creativity and service. We’ll work as a natural extension of your team to score you some serious wins with your next direct mail marketing campaign. What’s more? We hold our products to a higher standard, so if your printing isn’t done right, we’ll fix it—no questions asked. It’s our guarantee. Start reaching your audience with direct mail today.