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Paper Victory: Consumers Prefer Direct Mail

Filed under Direct Marketing, Marketing Research

The Agitator, a blog focused on direct marketing strategies for non-profits, directed our attention to a press release by Pitney-Bowes, communicating the results of a mail preference survey conducted by International Communications Research (ICR).

The research shows that “consumers clearly prefer mail over other communications vehicles such as e-mail for receiving new product information and offerings as well as confidential business communications, such as bank statements and financial reports.” The findings in favor of paper mailings are impressive:

  • 73% of consumers prefer to receive new product announcements & offers from companies with whom they have a preexisting relationship, compared to 18% for email.
  • 70% of respondents also preferred to receive this information by direct mail from companies with whom they are not currently doing business.
  • The survey also shows that consumers are less likely to discard unopened mail (31%) – including new product brochures, catalogs or other advertising materials – than they are to discard unsolicited e-mails about new products (53.2%).

Additionally, the survey asked consumers about the advantages of direct mailings verses other communications channels such as unsolicited email and telephone calls. Several respondents reported that mail was:

  • Less intrusive (doesn’t interrupt other activities): 45.3%
  • More convenient (can be saved and considered at leisure): 40.2%
  • Less high-pressured (lets you consider your decision): 30.2%
  • More descriptive (lets you picture the offer): 22.7%
  • More persuasive (encourages you to respond): 12%

The advantages of direct mail marketing, while significant, should be kept in perspective. As The Agitator points out, the preference for print materials “could simply reflect that consumers have come to more jealously ‘guard the gate’ when it comes to spam and other unfamiliar or unsolicited email. So maybe they pay more attention to what does get through the door and into the e-mailbox. But the data doesn’t go there.”

The point to consider is that just getting your materials in the mail won’t result in a maximum return on invest. Jeff Marshall, vice president of customer marketing for Pitney Bowes Global Mailstream Solutions, states that “in an environment crowded with marketing messages, it’s important for marketers to utilize the most effective mailstream tools available. . . While mail is the preferred vehicle for reaching consumers, businesses and organizations need to remember that it is critical to target consumers with relevant messages at appropriate times to get a meaningful return-on-investment.”

Therefore, it’s important to ask yourself if you are directing your mailings at a receptive audience in a way that is likely to trigger the desired response. Your mailing lists must be targeted, up to date, and – we believe – guaranteed. Your chosen communications channels must be careful considered and effectively used. Most of all, your message must be clear, directed, and meaningful to the consumer. All the pieces of your marketing strategy must work together. Ask yourself – can you cut through the clutter?

At Martin Worldwide, we have expert consultants available to help you develop an effective marketing campaign, from selecting a targeted consumer mailing list to designing your print materials. And, in the coming weeks, we’ll be addressing a number of ways to improve your direct marketing efforts right here on our blog, so stay tuned!

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