HomeNews4 Reasons Why Direct Mail Isn’t Dead but your Marketing Strategy Is

4 Reasons Why Direct Mail Isn’t Dead but your Marketing Strategy Is

Many brands, organizations, and even professionals that rely on 1:1 marketing opportunities lean on direct mail to reach their target audience but oftentimes direct mail campaigns are dead on delivery. Why is this the case? We’ve all been the recipient of a direct-mail campaign and we’ve all been either incredibly excited to receive a coupon from a brand or annoyed by receiving unsolicited, irrelevant mail from a brand. The latter is what marketers want to avoid, as it hurts your brand and frankly – it can be a waste of marketing spend! However, it’s easy to take your strategy to the next level and here are four reasons why your direct mail campaign may have underperformed and how to repurpose that strategy and find success.

Something Smells Off and It Might Be Your Data

When was the last time you gave your data a good cleaning? Unfortunately, many marketers are guilty of reusing outdated data for their campaigns and dirty data can present a threat to the success of a robust marketing strategy. Although some companies are willing to deal with the repercussions of poor data hygiene – it can negatively impact your bottom line. A recent Gartner survey reported that roughly 60% of companies are unaware of the financial impact that dirty data has on their business because they don’t regularly measure the impact. The survey also noted for companies that are measuring the impact of dirty data, it’s costing them nearly $13 million per year. This number is astounding!

Lack of time, budget, and resources can be a reason that companies shy away from data integrity but it’s an easy fix. Set up a regular cadence for data cleansing and be intentional with this process. For example, if you’re a nonprofit and you know that once or twice per year, you’re reaching out to a specific donor list – make time ahead of your outreach schedule to clean and update your list so you can successfully reach your target donorbase. Additionally, be proactive and make updates as they come in. If you sent out a recent mailer and received a return to sender, update your records immediately. The added effort will save your team time and money in the long run.

You’re Playing It Safe by Using a Blanket Marketing Approach

Let’s face it, data segmentation is a necessity and it shouldn’t be something that you skip over when building a direct mail campaign. Despite the numerous studies that have shown that consumers are more open to experiencing personalized marketing moments – some brands still choose to build quick “blanket” outreach strategies that often yield unimpressive results. For example, a local brand selling children’s clothes may want to send a coupon to every household within a 25-mile radius of their brick-and-mortar location – using only the zip code as a guiding point. This results in 30,000+ households receiving the same coupon with the same messaging.

This approach can be revamped simply by conducting a deeper level of segmentation. Take that list and append key data points to determine the life stage of each individual. Do they have children? How many and how old are they? What about the household’s discretionary spend and the types of items they usually shop for? By appending data and segmenting audiences, you can ensure that you only reach the relevant households – not everyone simply in a zip code, for example.   Additionally, now you can align your messaging with each segment. Although it may seem like you’re saving time by curating 1 piece of ad creative, creating  2 or 3 more to truly personalize your message and offer will pay dividends. Consumers want to receive relevant marketing in their mailbox and segmentation and message alignment are crucial for connecting with your buyers.

Your Target List is Too Broad or Too Narrow

Finding a happy medium with your target list is essential for reaching the right buyers. If your prospect list is too narrow, you may be leaving people out. If your target list is too broad, you may be oversaturating consumers who aren’t a fit for your brand or offer. With lookalike models, however, you can take a list of 2,000 and grow it to 20,000 thoughtfully and strategically by using data as a driving force. Without data and AI, you may assume that a list of 20,000 is far too broad but with predictive analytics, you can ensure that the increase aligns with the customers you want to target. Also, marketers with larger budgets – please remember that quality often supersedes quantity. Just because you can buy 200 zip codes for a direct mail campaign doesn’t mean you should – unless you have data to back up your strategy.

You Put all Your Eggs in the Direct Mail Basket

Direct mail is an incredible channel for driving results, but consider it just a starting point for building a robust and effective omnichannel campaign. Whether you build a direct mail campaign that incorporates a social media or email strategy – it’s always good to have your brand front and center for the consumer across multiple touchpoints. I’ve seen quite a few companies that have siloed marketing teams, where individuals have specific responsibilities on the team and individual budgets for their own marketing efforts. For example, a Director of Direct Mail may have their own budget allocated to their efforts and they may never work alongside the individual managing digital or email campaigns. These silos can create obstacles and hinder success across the entire team. To circumvent this issue, aim to collaborate with your peers and take a tactical and strategic approach. When you partner with other members of your team and procure data that works for direct mail, digital, email and even advanced TV targeting, you can stretch your budget and increase overall ROI.

Direct mail serves as an excellent opportunity to connect with your buyers, build brand loyalty, and increase sales. And direct mail works even harder for marketers when they lean on data-driven decision-making to launch personalized, omnichannel campaigns. The result is a strong ROI, an increase in sales, and an overall better customer experience. A true win-win-win.


  • Jessica Velleteri Akinwale is co-founder of TRAK Data, which provides a platform that empowers brands to tap into a world-class marketing database and build AI-driven lookalike models in moments.

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Jessica Velleteri Akinwale
Jessica Velleteri Akinwalehttps://trakdatainc.com/
Jessica Velleteri Akinwale is co-founder of TRAK Data, which provides a platform that empowers brands to tap into a world-class marketing database and build AI-driven lookalike models in moments.

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