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Is it time for Direct Mail to make a comeback?

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Once vilified as junk mail, the enemy of the environment as well as the door mat, direct mail has finally come of age. Says who? Says me, and here’s why…

 

Before going any further I should point out that I am anything but anti email. I use it myself for our newsletter and for other marketing messages. I just believe that printed mail can’t be beat when used creatively, with careful planning and for the right application.

 

While email has no doubt had a positive effect on our lives in many ways, the average inbox has become everything we used to hate about direct mail, clogged up with unrequested, unwanted and uninteresting content. As an example, even with junk mail filters and anti spam software I personally still receive an average of over 100 unsolicited emails every day on subjects ranging from ink-jet cartridges to Viagra and from telecoms to penis enlargements (who needs one of those eh lads!).

 

In amongst all of those messages that I’m definitely not interested in are some sales and marketing messages that I might be interested in and even some that I’d definitely be interested in. But because I have to spend so much time clearing out the junk and identifying what might and might not be worth reading, I inevitably start to treat it all the same meaning some of the stuff that might have got my attention gets the same treatment as the junk. So even if you’ve targeted your recipients carefully and requested their permission to send your communication, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to even see it let alone read it.

 

 

So how do you make sure that your message gets through effectively? How can you make your message stand out from the plethora of other promotional messages?

 

Printed mail offers the perfect opportunity to get your message noticed. It’s tactile, it’s incredibly flexible and, in my humble opinion, is more likely to be read and retained than email. In addition, there are an enormous number of ways in which you can present your mail, from simple items like postcards or letters to more elaborate pieces using special effects such as foiling and embossing, clever folding or including gifts or samples.

 

 

No doubt at this point the digital disciples will be pointing out that direct mail is expensive, environmentally unfriendly and doesn’t have the same ability to be measured as it’s digital counterpart. That’s not quite true.

 

There’s no doubt that, once the creative is out of the way, printed mail is more expensive than it’s e counterpart. But isn’t that part of the problem? E-mail is so inexpensive that everyone is using it, bringing us back to original problem of how to make your message stand out in a crowded, highly competitive space. And shouldn’t we be looking at the return rather than the cost anyway? According to Royal Mail figures, the average direct mail campaign will generate a 1400% return on your investment. Suddenly cost doesn’t seem so important anymore and when you couple this with the results of a recent study by the Direct Marketing Association that nearly 70% of consumers still prefer to receive conventional mail over email, you’ve got a powerful argument for print over digital.

 

As for the environmental argument, it just doesn’t stand up to closer scrutiny. Paper is actually one of only a few truly sustainable materials. There is no deforestation taking place to satisfy demand for paper in fact the opposite is true in Europe where forests have grown by over 30% since 1950 and continue to increase by an area four times the size of London every year.

 

 

The forests supplying the paper industry are very well managed, replanting trees as they are used and as young trees grow they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. As a wood product, paper continues to store this carbon throughout its lifetime.

 

Paper doesn’t take that much energy to produce either. On average it takes 500kWh to produce 200kg of paper which is the average amount we use each year. The same amount of energy is consumed by the average household leaving its electronic equipment on standby for a year. Producing that 200kg of paper creates between 160-250kg of CO2 which is equivalent to that amount generated driving the average family car for 600 miles.

 

Print and paper is also one of the few materials which is able to be completely recycled. In fact it may prove to be the sustainable way to communicate as electronic waste is now the fastest growing component of the municipal waste stream. It’s easy to forget that we need to power computers and monitors to send and receive email.

 

As for measuring the effectiveness of your campaign, I can’t argue that the analytical tools available to digital media aren’t first class. There is no way of knowing, bar calling everyone and asking them, who opened your direct mail and who didn’t. But you can find out who has visited a web page if you need to know by using personalised web pages (PURL’s) and you can easily track who has responded to your message using many methods such as having barcodes on reply cards, unique reference numbers to quote or by simply checking respondents details against your database.

 

So, it’s powerful, it’s effective, it’s flexible, it’s green and it’s measurable. It’s printed direct mail and it’s available here. What are you waiting for? Make your message loud and clear.

 

Check out http://www.printpower.eu/en/why-print-media/direct-mailing for more reasons to use print for your direct marketing.

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