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The Death of Direct Mail?

March 29th, 2011 by Bob Bly

When I tell hip social media experts that I specialize in direct mail copywriting, they laugh and tell me it is an obsolete medium that no one uses anymore.

If that’s true, why ?does an article in Deliver (2/11, p. 5) tell us that global direct mail advertising will reach $25 billion a year by 2015?


This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 at 5:51 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

57 responses about “The Death of Direct Mail?”

  1. Scott Martin said:

    And why did I just write four direct mail pieces for a computer company?

  2. Ryan chapman said:

    I hope they stick to online social media only. If it were true that less people were using it, it would only make those of us employing it all that more effective. I love that many businesses are going online only. When we deliver physical mail it has a much more profound effect.

  3. Matt Ambrose said:

    When discussing the role of print I often quote a Pitney Bowes survey which found that 73% of people prefer to receive new product announcements in the mail:

    In integrated campaigns print can act as the trigger and to direct people to a website (preferably one with a personalised URL).

  4. Brian Croner said:

    Yeah, there’s been a lot of cockiness with online marketing gurus lately. Here’s what I know first hand: If you mail out 5000 units with snail mail and 5000 units via email with the SAME offer, the snail mail will out pull it 22 times..and this is a modest number. I believe the order of effectiveness in marketing mechanisms are as follows: 1. Face to face. 2. Telephone. 3. Direct Mail. Television, newspaper, radio are below these mechanisms, but the internet is one of the worst mechanisms devised by man. However, the rise of social networking has opened up some opportunity that the internet didn’t provide 5 years ago.

  5. Greg said:


    I laugh back at him *silently*…

    It’ll be our dirty little secret that the social media “expert” never gets to find out.

    While our direct mail campaigns beats previously bagged profits by 125%…

    He’s in for a rude awakening as his social media campaigns derail one after another worse than a 15 carriage train wreck.

  6. Zama Zincume said:

    It’s amazing what people can come up with!

    it has been proven that time tested techniques of direct mail marketing still works online and offline. Can “they” prove to us their profitability?

  7. Brian Croner said:

    Zama: EXACTLY! No one to the best of my knowledge ever has.

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  9. Codrut Turcanu said:

    then why do I…

    1. still get spam in the snail
    2. receive offers I like
    3. see others using it (in combination with web 2.0 or not)

    Whenever I hear someone saying that “X is dead” I show him the vice-versa evidence. He might just tell me, well that’s going to die soon, or it was just resurrected. 🙂

  10. Bob Bly said:

    Codrut: They tend to ignore any evidence that doesn’t conform to their point of view.

  11. Jim Logan said:

    Something I pointed out recently to a marketer engaged in a similar discussion: Google and HostGator sent my business two direct mail solicitations within the past six months with a PPC and web hosting offer.

    That should be all the proof anyone needs as to whether or not direct mail is alive and kicking.

  12. Brian Croner said:

    Jim, I received the same mailings. And isn’t odd that when ever a major company wants to kick off a website, they turn to traditional media? I’m reading a book right now titled: “The New Rules of Marketing & PR.” The author stuck his foot in his mouth in the first chapter when he said that Direct Mail and Radio and magazines aren’t designed to target consumers. He really needs to know media and their purpose before making such stupid statements. But nonetheless, what disturbs me about social media and online marketing is the lack of intrusiveness. In fact, it relies on the prospect seeking the business out…instead of the business seeking out the prospect. This means you could have every sales advantage, but never been seen or heard.

  13. Som said:

    “In fact, it relies on the prospect seeking the business out…instead of the business seeking out the prospect. This means you could have every sales advantage, but never been seen or heard.”

    That’s why SEO is so big. I can’t imagine making money online if people can’t find me. In fact I remember reading somewhere that the most important online marketing skills are copywriting and SEO, but social media content isn’t really connected to search engine rankings, as far as I know.

  14. Jeff said:

    I think so much of the market is sick of SPAM…and so few (in relation to the entire market) are using Social Media…that Direct Mail is still effective.

    Personally, I WELCOME mailed pieces, yet I delete e-mailed ads immediately and have all kinds of SPAM filters in place so I never have to read them to begin with!

  15. Troll-Face said:

    Agree with Jeff; I find that with SO much spam coming now in Twitter and now Facebook, much gets deleted by most. I think mailed pieces stand out MORE because of the push toward everything going online. Companies that use both methods, online and DM are smart.

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