Direct Mail On Its Way Out?

In the world of direct marketing, testing determines the winning channel. In other words, test all channels and rollout the winning tests. So the core channel, offers and creative executions are selected based on results and not the marketer's preferences.

DMNews invited a couple of guests to respond to their question: "Will direct mail remain a top channel?" 

Dave Lewis, CMO, Message Systems, a 25-year direct marketing veteran for both offline and online says, " Direct mail has been the workhorse for generations of direct marketers. But it's time to put that workhorse out to pasture, and recognize that digital messaging – e-mail for today – is the one for our future." 

I could not disagree with him more.

The answer to the question posed by DMNews is not yes OR no, but yes and no. It all depends upon the test results.

In fact, the core medium varies from one market segment to another. If your target market revolves around rural areas, then your core medium may indeed be solo direct mail. But in suburbia and exurbia, you will likely see markets that gravitate mainly to online.

Your core medium for some market groups may actually require multichannel support for maximum profitability.

Direct mail suffers from ever increasing costs. But email suffers from lack of credibility that continues to battle the growth of spam. So saturation continues to dilute email as an acquisition tool. It works best with existing customers who already enjoy a relationship with the advertiser. 

As direct mail increases in price and its volume in the media mix decreases, direct mail gains new strength because of its growing credibility. The high cost of entry in using direct mail weeds out the fly-by-night businesses.  

Unfortunately, email's low cost attracts low quality businesses and spammers. 

So I predict that direct mail as a direct marketers' workhouse will continue to grow for some time. 

The bottom line: the best marketers favor what works based on testing and remain media agnostic.

Posted on December 16, 2008 and filed under Direct Marketing Strategy, Online Marketing.