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Direct mail is still a relevant marketing strategy in 2013

Richard Jones Archive

Modern technology is on the rise, and marketing executives are keenly aware that they can bolster their initiatives using high-tech strategies. For example, if they're looking to collect data on the demands of their consumers, they can simply poll them using online resources including emails, social media sites and chats via mobile devices.

At the same time, companies run the risk of getting too caught up in all of this tech buzz. Older, more traditional methods of gathering marketing data might not be the most popular today, but they do still have value in today's economy. Marketers looking to improve their data collection strategies should leave no stone unturned, even if it's not one that's all the rage in today's blogosphere.

For example, consider marketing via direct mail. If you believe everything you read about in tech blogs, you might infer that snail mail is dead - but in reality, that's very far from the case. Direct mail marketing is actually still outperforming its online counterpart, according to The Gazette, the local newspaper in Montgomery County, Maryland.

The newspaper reported on the results of a study released in October by the Direct Marketing Association, conducted by professors John Deighton of Harvard University and Peter Johnson of Columbia University. The researchers found that "traditional offline marketing," which includes direct mailers, was a $93.6 billion industry in 2012. Online marketing, which includes electronic ads, targeted emails and selling information to brokers, is worth about $62 billion.

Kenneth Roseborough, owner of Money Mailer in Silver Spring, Maryland, wasn't surprised to hear that direct mail marketing is still alive and well. Roseborough works with businesses to send them ads and coupons via the postal service, and he maintains that his business is going strong despite all the buzz about more technological approaches.

"People get caught up in the digital age," Roseborough told the Gazette. "But they find that have to go back to paper. A lot of people want to see something in their hand like a coupon, and not just an electronic image on their smartphone or other device."

There is one catch, though. If companies rely too heavily on direct mail for bolstering their advertising initiatives, they run the risk of encountering trouble with data quality. If companies use their direct mail initiatives to collect information, it adds an extra step to the process, as handwritten information on paper forms can make it difficult for companies to guarantee accuracy.