5 Misconceptions About Direct Mail

Organizations that believe they should direct all their messaging through digital channels could miss out on great opportunities. Despite popular belief and doomsday press coverage about mail’s imminent death, most consumers still prefer receiving offers, advertisements, and announcements through the mail. The Postal Service is healthy and well-designed direct mail produces superior results.

Here are five common misunderstandings about mail as a communication channel:


1.    The Post Office is going to shut down.

No one familiar with the details surrounding the US Postal Service’s financial woes expects the government to disable or privatize the organization. Centralized postal delivery is one of the few government services authorized by the United States Constitution. The USPS does not run on tax dollars and has been reporting an operating profit of around $1 billion in each of the last 3 fiscal years. Deficits reported on the nightly news include a mandate to fund retirement accounts decades before they are needed. The Postal Service requires Congressional action to modify this unreasonable drain on funds. Congress has yet to agree on a future strategy.


2.    Mail is too expensive. Postage is going up – again!

The Postal Service has submitted details for the next rate increase, which adds about 1% to postage costs on average. Compared with other essential business expenses, postage rate hikes are quite modest. By law, the USPS ties predictable annual increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). After the Postal Service recovered recession-based losses with a temporary rate change, some postage prices actually decreased by over 4% earlier this year. Mailing experts at EarthcColor have many techniques to lower the overall cost of mailed communications and can help their customers decrease the effects of postage rate changes.


3.    Email costs nearly nothing. Why use postal mail?

Consumers can receive hundreds of email marketing messages per day and only a few via direct mail. There is a lot less competition in the postal mailbox.  Recipients see and handle every direct mail piece. Spam filters, abandoned email accounts, and junk folders, prevent email from achieving the same level of exposure. Though one can send huge quantities of emails, the chances of the messages getting delivered are much smaller than postal mail. Response rates for well-conceived direct mail can outpace email by a factor of 30. Postal mail costs more but performs better.


4.    Nobody uses the mail these days. It’s old fashioned.

Consumers have lots of choices for how to communicate today. Interestingly, they still seem to prefer the mail for some types of messages. Bills and statements are a good example. Despite over a decade of unrelenting biller pressure on their customers to abandon paper, 4 out of 5 consumers still prefer receiving these transactional documents through the postal mail.

Catalog companies that stopped mailing printed catalogs discovered physical documents prompted a significant portion of the business they conducted online. Without the catalogs, customers stopped buying. Most catalogers have changed back to a multi-channel strategy, using postal mail as an effective way to open and maintain digital communication channels with prospective customers.


5.    Direct mail isn’t customizable. Sending the same piece to every prospect is a waste.

That used to be the case. For decades, direct mail marketers printed addresses on thousands of identical letters or postcards. Advancements in printing devices, software, and data analysis have changed all that. Today’s successful direct mailers are using technology to create targeted, relevant, and personalized full-color pieces to connect with the prospects on their lists. Production and mailing costs for personalized direct mail are no more than the generic kind – it’s just more effective.

Mail is a better bargain than most businesspeople think. To find out more about how modern direct mail can get results at a reasonable price, contact us at EarthColor

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