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Industry Insight

Direct Mail Research: A Great Door Opener With Customers


By Heidi Tolliver-Walker
Published: September 9, 2010

Recently, Chantal Tode blogged about the ICOM research showing that younger consumers prefer direct mail and newspapers over online channels for receiving marketing information. The study, titled "Finding the Right Channel Combination: What Drives Channel Choice?" (download here), conducted by ICOM, a division of Epsilon Targeting, surveyed over 2500 U.S. and 2200 Canadian households and found that, when asked their preference, consumers prefer direct mail over online media for marketing communications. What's particularly surprising here is that the study wasn't conducted among older consumers but among younger ones. The coveted 18-34-year-old bracket, in fact. That's very encouraging data in an industry that can struggle with discouragement. My question is, what are you doing with that information? Keeping it under your hat? Or using it to market your services to customers? Of course, one of the reasons 18-34-year-old prefer direct mail could be that it is easier to ignore. It doesn't flash in their faces and interrupt what they are doing. They don't have to look at it, click out of it, or navigate around it to get to whatever it is they want to do. Just because someone prefers direct mail doesn't automatically mean it's more effective. That said — and not knowing why 18-34-year-olds in this study prefer direct mail — this is still some great data to drop on your customers. Try it during your next phone call or the next time they drop in the door. "Hey, did you hear about the study that showed direct mail beats online media for marketing communications?" Chances are, they'll say, "No, can't say that I have." This opens a great marketing door for you. I'm not saying that there isn't more to this study than appears on the surface. But what it does is open the door for discussions. It plants seeds in the minds of customers about the value of print. It's yet another opportunity to start a dialog, engage your customers, and reinforce the value they receive by working with you. Here are some data nuggets to drop in your next conversation:
Type of Offer Prefer Mail Prefer Online
Personal care 62% 22%
Food products 66% 23%
Over-the-counter medication 53% 21%.
Insurance services 43% 21%
Financial services 44% 19%
Travel 34% 42%
Source: “Finding the Right Channel Combination: What Drives Channel Choice” ICOM 2010

Heidi Tolliver-Walker Heidi is an industry analyst specializing in digital, one-to-one, personalized URL, and Web-to-print applications. Her Marketer’s Primer Series, availalbe through Digital Printing Reports, includes “Digital Printing: Transforming Business and Marketing Models,” 1:1 (Personalized) Printing: Boosting Profits Through Relevance,” “Personalized URLs: Beyond the Hype,” and “Web-to-Print: Transforming Document Management and Marketing.”



By Jennifer (www.triadexcardmailers.com) on Sep 10, 2010

What a great article Heidi. I completely agree with you and Chantal. What I have seen work great for direct mail is laminated card mailers. Redemption rates are consistently 10-20%. This just backs up the fact that direct mail can not be ignored, deleted, or navigated around. What makes this piece so unique is its quality, images, and durability. It makes a great first impression and has a detachable gift card that can be easily placed in a wallet or purse compared to a over sized paper postcard. The ROI is easily trackable due to a magnetic stripe or barcode that can be printed on the piece as well. It can easily be integrated into a companies current POS system. Another great benefit of a laminated card mailer is many artwork versions can be created to be tailored to different niches. Direct mail can be a very powerful marketing tool if used correctly.


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This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. Our Reprint Service offers presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers.