Direct Mail – Is It Still Relevant?

Written by epicnine

Does your mailbox have a spam filter? Do you at least look at the marketing postcard that came in the mail before you toss it in the trash?

In this age of ever changing technology, whether that’s the latest TikTok trend, Instagram’s push into videos with Reels, or the fact  that if you just talk about something it seems to appear on your Facebook wall, it’s easy to think that the only way to achieve marketing success is to advertise on these platforms. That’s not completely untrue. There is a lot of value for certain companies to market to people using social media platforms, but it’s a crowded space, and depending on your business, it might not make sense for you.

That’s why I want to talk about something I’m sure you’re familiar with as a consumer:  direct mail (or as you probably call it at home, “junk” mail.) Now why would you want to market your business through such an outdated medium, let alone with something that people refer to as “junk”? Because there is still a lot of value to be had through direct mail if used properly & for the right products/services.

Reaching Your Target Audience

“Every person has a mailbox” is what I was recently told during a direct mail presentation. Though that may not be 100% factual, there is a lot of truth in that statement. Nearly everyone in the U.S. receives mail at their place of residence. With the number of important bills & government documents that come to one’s address, people are also quick to provide updated addresses to the post office. 

Per the USPS, 98% of people check their mail daily, and I believe a strong case could be made that this has been magnified even further over the last 9 months, where a large portion of Americans began to, and many still are, work from home full-time. This means the chance that someone sees a direct mail piece is significant, especially when considered against other marketing channels.

Maybe it doesn’t make sense for your business to send a direct mail piece to everyone in the city or to every house in a zip code. Thankfully, technology, in particular data, has been incorporated with this “old-fashioned” medium. The majority of direct mail pieces can now be sent on the zip code, half/split zip code, or even down to the carrier route. This allows you to  narrow your mailings down to consumers who are near enough to take advantage of your services. If that isn’t enough targeting, there is also the ability to target households based on income, family makeup (single, couple with kids, single parent, etc.,) pet owners or not, etc. 

This can be taken a step further with the advances in personalization. Not only will the postcard be addressed to the household you’re sending to, but it can include their names in the actual ad itself. For example: a new mover piece can say “Welcome to the Neighborhood, Gilstrap Family” or “Hi, Brandon! Let us help with your move” on the postcard itself. 

Beyond that, technology now exists where a single mailing to a zip code can use different images on the postcard depending on the household. For example: a pet store’s postcard can have a dog on the front if a particular household has a dog, but if the next door has cats, the postcard will have a cat instead of a dog. This level of personalization can cause a change in a consumer’s behavior, as the ad now depicts a service or setting they can instantly connect with.

Advantages of Direct Mail Marketing vs Email Marketing

According to recent statistics, the average American receives 605 emails & 17 pieces of mail each week. This boils down to roughly 36 emails vs 1 piece of mail.  That lack of competition in the mail space means that if you sent one direct mail piece in a week, it has almost 6% share of all the mail they’ll receive that week.  In contrast, if you sent one marketing email, it would receive less than 0.2% share of all emails. This means with direct mail there is a huge increase in the amount of space your brand takes up in the consumer’s mind.

This is further magnified when you consider that it’s estimated that close to 90% of all direct mail will be at least opened/looked at by a consumer vs only about 25% of all emails. After it’s opened, an email typically gets less than 20 seconds of consideration, where direct mail has an average lifespan of over 2 weeks (~17 days.) Over this period, there is a significant likelihood of multiple impressions for pieces that last this long, as even sitting on a counter can cause a consumer to view the piece multiple times.


Direct mail may not have the same flash & excitement that the newest tool on social media marketing has, but that doesn’t mean it won’t produce results. Used in the right circumstances, a direct mail campaign can be an excellent complementary piece to your overall marketing plan, as it pushes your business’s offerings above the crowded noise online. Take this opportunity to evaluate whether this “junk” might actually be a relevant missing piece of equipment that boosts you up your marketing mountain.

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