Direct Mail, A Second Wind

How is direct mail not dead yet? How can it be making a comeback? Let’s break it down, shall we?


In the last few years, it seems most marketers have been transitioning to digital with such a passion that they might now be pushing aside a great addition to their toolbox. If they keep on shunning direct mail, digital-only businesses risk missing out on a whole range of new possibilities.

Yes, granted, direct-mail marketing used to be the fiefdom of mass mailings, catalogs and weekly flyers. But don’t be fooled by the 20th-century smell of pulp and toner. With customer targeting technologies on the rise, mailboxes are getting more and more customized by the minute.

Introducing data-driven direct mail marketing, the touch and feel of traditional mail, without its impersonal nature. Targeted brochures and coupons that speak to the customer’s needs and interests, making it into their mailboxes with remarkable timing: that’s the future of direct mail.

So no, direct mail is not dead. It’s not even dying. It was merely recouping before coming back with a vengeance.


Direct mail has been around for ages, half a millennium if you think about it. Some might say it’s an antiquated marketing tool, and couldn’t possibly find its way into an integrated, digitally informed strategy. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Millennials and Gen Z generally like opening mail, with 95% of 18-to-29-year-olds reporting a positive response to receiving personal cards and letters in the mail, according to Canada Post. Yet they probably wouldn’t like it so much if they were flooded with irrelevant spray-and-pray mailers as baby boomers and Gen X were.

The key to direct mail’s second wind came with the advent of behavioral monitoring. Here’s how it’s done.

  1. First, deploy a digital marketing strategy. The ins and outs of digital marketing are explained in more details in this quick guide, if you’re wondering how to proceed. Make sure all customer data is collected and aggregated and avoid siloing your channels. Multi-channel integration will give you more reliable data so you can identify shopping behaviors accurately.
  2. Design your mailer as part of that broader marketing strategy. Make sure it complements and is complemented by your other channels in a meaningful way.
  3. Then, use your knowledge of a customer’s browsing and action-taking habits to send them your direct mail at the exact moment when they’re likely to make a purchase.
  4. For the finishing touch, sprinkle a bit of demographics-focused and location-sensitive information and wording to make it even more relevant.

    That’s it. Smart direct mail. You’ve leveraged big data and digital tools, but what the customer sees is a quaint little brochure. A nice attention from the good people at your company. And it just so happens that they feel like splurging today.

Above all, the future is personalized, not digital.


So what’s the takeaway here?

Let’s put it this way: it’s always tempting to reject old practices as a whole when new, game-changing tech gets popularized. But, in doing so, there’s a chance of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

The return to direct mail is a good example of how mixing up old-school and cutting-edge can yield better results than either can when taken separately.

Nowadays targeted digital ads are ignored, when they’re not adblocked. Mass mailings addressed to “the occupant” get a one-way ticket to the recycling bin without so much as a glance. People see those as lazy and impersonal. But an eyewear company who sends a personal letter to nearsighted Dave from Toronto about the deal he can get at their Little Portugal store (his neighborhood) on -3.25 D corrective lenses (his lens power) with a pair of neon blue frames (his favorite color), now that’s marketing!

If you’re looking for someone to help you elaborate a marketing strategy that includes direct mail, look no further! The experts at EMPOWER have a deep understanding of how to blend digital and physical marketing tactics.

Here’s a few of the things we do:

  • Gather customer data and analytics
  • Create a marketing plan that includes personalized direct mail
  • Prepare a targeting strategy for your brand
  • Deliver concepts with compelling content and design
  • Embed digital technologies in physical object (QR code, voice-activated message, etc.)
  • Integrate trigger-based activation for shipping
  • Execute all kinds of personalized direct mail campaigns

Get the EMPOWER treatment now. Sit back and watch as your brand’s offline presence grows!


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