It wasn’t too long ago that personalized direct mail – a piece of mail specifically addressed to, and aimed at, the recipient – was the “new thing” in direct marketing services. It enjoyed a surge of popularity for a time, but rising postal rates, along with the advent of digital ad channels, stunted its growth. However, with the addition of both multi-channel and omni-channel sales efforts, personalized direct mail — being helped along by carefully targeted marketing efforts — is evolving into a better version of itself.


In its recent “2016 Statistical Fact Book,” the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) notes that while direct mail is not dead, its volume has dropped in the past decade, due in part to the aforementioned rising postal rates.


value of personal mail

“However, more marketers are adding mail to their array of integrated marketing tactics, because the engagement is growing as the clutter declines,” the DMA notes. “Personalization and relevance is key. Costs are high, but scale and ROI remain strong when direct mail is delivered to a well-targeted audience.”


Even better, research is showing that the so-called “Millennial Generation” – those between the ages of 18 and 34 – are “most likely to read and respond to direct mail.” That’s according to the U.K.’s Royal Mail MarketReach division, which recently published the findings of its “Life Stages of Mail” study.


To wit:


  • Young people living at home with their parents – the survey identified them as “fledglings” — were 18% more likely than any other group to be receptive to personalized direct mailings;
  • A third of fledglings were found to have kept a piece of direct mail for future reference, while 17% had passed it on to others, extending its “shelf life”;
  • The group as a whole was 32% more likely than others to trust direct mail over online marketing campaigns.

“There is a myth in the market that only older people engage and respond to direct mail,” said Emma Springham, head of marketing at MarketReach. “But we found through this research that there is a much deeper picture, and from the fledgling point of view it’s quite surprising.”


Speaking of older audiences, they are still a valuable – and valued – audience for those in direct marketing services sending personalized mail. In “5 Ways to Effectively Market to Baby Boomers” Entrepreneur magazine noted that “Reading is something retired boomers enjoy,” making them an ideal target for a well-crafted DM piece. “Don’t stray from old school advertising methods that were more text-heavy than the minimalist trends of today. Seniors want to see everything spelled out in print.”


Holly Amick, Director of Marketing at agency Kessler Creative, echoed that sentiment.


The senior segment of the 55-plus demographic is most likely to sit down and read your direct mail piece,” she is quoted as saying in a recent Kessler blog, Tips for Marketing to Seniors. “Senior citizens are dominating the shopping market and looking to try new things – like your company. What’s the best way to reach this highly lucrative market? Direct mail.


The DMA is also on board with that line of thought, seeing personalized direct mail as part of an overall omni-channel marketing plan.


“Where online is generally low-cost, low impact, print is higher-cost, higher impact,” the DMA notes in its Statistical Fact Book. “Where online marketing is passive, direct mail is active. Direct mailings are proactive and tactile – demanding that the recipient do something with it. The better response rates make the return on the investment worthwhile for both retention and acquisition.”


That’s good news for companies like MSP and those involved in the full-service, direct mail marketing industry. There are other reasons as well to consider utilizing a personalized direct mail approach in your targeting efforts. Among them:


personal direct mailingSecurity. Users are becoming increasingly wary of opening emails, even if it seems to be from a source or business they’re familiar with. The nightmare stories about hacking and security breaches are only increasing. Plus, the rise of digital ad-blocking technology further hurts the chances of your message actually getting through. With direct mail, what you see is what you get. There’s a certain level of trust for recipients that comes with a personalized direct mail piece.


Information Overload. Think of your own email inboxes. How many emails a day do you receive? And how many of those do you delete without opening? With direct mail, your recipient at least handles the piece. A recent Direct Mail Information Service report noted that over three quarters of direct mail is opened by the recipients, while 63% actually read the contents.


Personal Value. Dale Carnegie, author of the bestseller “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” was well known for his ability to make everyone around him feel welcome. He had one method for doing so that he shared: “A person’s name is, to him or her, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Simply put, whether it’s spoken or written, if your message comes attached with the person’s name, they’re more likely to respond positively to it.


Personalized direct mail delivers in innumerable ways:


  • It physically gets in the recipient’s hands;
  • It has their name on it in more than one place, adding to the personal effect;
  • It presents a message with the perception that it is for them, exclusively;
  • It helps strengthen the bond between sender and receiver.

For those in the direct mail business, taking the time and effort to personalize their message can only help.


Want to see more ideas on how to better reach your audience? Let MSP build a customized VDP campaign for your brand.


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