In an always-online era, when digital strategies dominate the conversation, it can be easy to assume that direct mail is on its way out. But marketers who write off direct mail campaigns in 2024 are doing themselves a serious disservice, because research shows time and again that the strategy is far from outdated. For example:
90 percent of millennials believe it’s more reliable than email. 75 percent say direct mail makes them feel special or valued, and 62 percent said they visited a store in the past month based on info they received in the mail.
Additionally, 71 percent of baby boomers and 71 percent of Gen X’ers say mail feels more personal than digital communications. While 72 percent of Gen Z’ers say they would be disappointed to no longer receive mail.
Popular across generations (and perhaps one of the very few things all generations can agree on), direct mail is poised to be at the foundation of successful multichannel marketing campaigns in 2024.
In this blog post, we’ll explore five key direct mail trends that highlight why this old-school strategy remains a worthwhile investment for businesses in the new year.
Trend 1: High Returns Make Direct Mail Marketing a No-Brainer for Lean Budgets
With marketing budgets remaining tight in the new year, the quest for a high ROI on any and all campaign activities remains paramount. Perhaps surprisingly, the ROI of direct mail is hard to beat.
As businesses navigate through uncertain economic landscapes, they’re realizing that direct mail can be a cost-effective strategy with a tangible impact on the bottom line. At 112 percent ROI, direct mail provides a higher response rate than any other channel, as well as a lower customer acquisition cost.
Engagement rates for direct mail are also far surpassing other channels. For example, while only 9 percent of sales emails even get opened, consumers engage with 95 percent of physical mail—and almost half floats around people’s homes for a month. And as we saw above, significant numbers of consumers take action based on what they see in the mail.
As a result of these statistics, marketers are leaning into direct mail as a campaign element that delivers powerful bang for the buck — and they’ll continue doing so in 2024. Direct mail marketing spend was expected to grow 3 percent in 2023, surpassing $43 billion, and there is no sign of that growth slowing.
Trend 2: Direct Mail Marketing Will Provide Consumers a Welcome Alternative to the Always-On Digital Noise
In an age where consumers are bombarded with a constant stream of digital ads on their screens, direct mail provides a refreshing alternative. Last year, Forrester reported that 76 percent of marketers were seeing lower levels of engagement on digital touchpoints as a result of digital fatigue. (Conversely, and in line with the stats above, 78 percent of marketers saw a boost in performance of analogue touchpoints like direct mail.)
The USPS reports that the average American household receives 454 pieces of marketing mail per year. Compare that to the 6,000-10,000 ads we see per day online, and it’s no wonder we’re continuing to burn out on digital advertising. In the face of constant digital fatigue and overstimulation, direct mail—which requires 21 percent less cognitive effort to process than digital messaging—is a gentler way for businesses to reach clients.
A piece of well-designed, personalized direct mail stands out by offering a break from the digital noise and provides consumers a tactile experience that creates a more memorable and impactful interaction with the brand. (Not convinced? There’s research to prove it. A study by Canada Post found that 75 percent of consumers were able to recall brand names from print mail pieces. While only 44 percent were able to recall them from digital ads.)
Direct mail offers a break from the digital noise, allowing businesses to establish a deeper connection with their audience. In 2024, marketers will leverage direct mail as a way to relieve consumers’ cognitive load (even just a little bit) and cut through the digital clutter to leave a lasting impression.
Trend 3: In Direct Mail Marketing, Quality Will Rule over Quantity
Now, this is not all to say that direct mail will simply become a free-for-all of postcards and flyers and letters and catalogues hitting mailboxes. In 2024, direct mail campaigns will focus on quality over quantity.
Marketers know that a highly targeted, personalized approach yields better results and that tailoring the message, design, and offer to a specific audience segment increases the likelihood of conversion and customer loyalty.
What’s more, marketers know that—as much as the carefully curated design and messaging—the paper and print quality of their mailing materials are a reflection of their brand. Flimsy paper and cheap packaging won’t have the same impact as high quality mailers.
Another aspect of quality that is gaining traction is sustainability, with 60 percent of Gen Z consumers actively recycling their mail and 70 percent wanting to see recycling information directly on their marketing mail. Today’s consumers want to buy from brands that reflect their own personal values, and direct mail is an opportunity to highlight your organization’s commitment to one value that is increasingly top of mind: sustainability.
In 2024, direct mail will be an opportunity for brands to showcase their commitment to excellence, their dedication to personal service, and their focus on sustainability—all combined to leave a lasting impression on recipients.
Trend 4: Direct Mail Will Be a Team Player in Multichannel Marketing Campaigns
Direct mail is a powerful component of a successful multichannel marketing campaign, but it’s even more effective when paired with digital channels. In a recent experiment, for example, a luxury e-commerce brand launched a physical catalog, which it sent to 40 percent of its US-based customers along with its regular email marketing. Compared to the customers that received only emails, the group that received both the catalog and the emails showed a 15 percent increase in sales and a 27 percent increase in inquiries.
One of the reasons this works so well is that receiving physical marketing materials from a brand primes consumers to recognize that brand when it shows up in other channels. Our digital inboxes are crowded, and it’s not easy to stand out. When we see a familiar brand name in the “from” line, however, we’re more likely to take notice.
But the catalog/email combination is not the only way to pair direct mail with digital. Here are a few other examples:
- Use QR Codes to drive traffic from your postcards to a landing page featuring your latest offers.
- Use social media as an A/B testing ground to identify your best-performing designs and messaging before investing in printing postcards.
- Reverse the experiment above, and use social media and/or email to prime your audience for incoming direct mail. Build buzz for your summer catalog or holiday deal mailer on social media, so consumers are looking for it—and ready to act on it—when it arrives in their mailboxes.
This integration between print and digital reinforces your brand message across different channels. While allowing you to meet potential customers where they are and building their familiarity with (and trust in) your brand. And as for its effectiveness, well, a OneTouchPoint client recently saw a marketing ROI increase of over 200 percent when combining their direct mail and Facebook campaigns.
Trend 5: Marketers Will Enlist Help Leveraging Direct Mail’s Ability to Do More With Less
Despite the clear importance of investing in direct mail as a key component of your 2024 marketing strategy, the reality remains that today’s marketing leaders face the expectation to achieve more and more results with continually dwindling resources. So the final direct mail trend we want (and fully expect) to see in 2024 is savvy marketing teams getting help with this process.
At OneTouchPoint, we are experts in direct mail trends and best practices. We possess world-class print and distribution capabilities, and show our dedication by helping our clients achieve their loftiest marketing goals—with zero wasted resources along the way.
Learn more about our direct mail and multichannel marketing services here, and when you’re ready, request a demo. One of our experts will be happy to walk you through our platform and process.