Direct Mail Is Alive and Well…

by Mark Dreistadt | Jun 28, 2019 | Consulting, Fundraising

In this day of increasing and pervasive digital communication, many organizations are legitimately questioning the value of continuing their direct mail programs. Digital communication can be faster and less expensive. Plus, literally everyone is online these days… However, the outcomes are not as predictable as one might think.

In an online article, David Rosendahl cited a lesson learned by Nordstrom, the American luxury department store chain. Their Q1 2019 sales were lower than expected. When asked why, Erik Nordstrom stated that their results were in part hurt by their decision to stop using direct mail for The Nordy Club loyalty program. They eliminated paper notes to their best customers, only to discover that many of these high-end consumers relied on the direct mail correspondence. Consequently, foot traffic dropped in all of their stores, resulting in lower sales.

The Direct Mail Association (DMA) conducted a survey and discovered that at least half of every industry segment uses direct mail. Furthermore, the survey found that a letter-sized envelope format produced the best overall response (15.1%) when used for lead generation.

Less than ten days after the previous article, David Rosendahl published a second article about another retailer — J.Jill who had poor Q1 sales. CEO and President, Linda Heasley stated:

“Going into the quarter, we planned some shift from direct mail to alternative media options, primarily digital. In hindsight, we moved too much too soon. We made adjustments quickly when we saw the results, and we were able to add back some direct mail touch points along with some changes in digital to better support our promotional activities. That restored traffic to planned levels, albeit belatedly.”

While there are many factors that affect retail sales, in both cases it appears that shifting away from direct mail to digital communication was a significant contributor.

Digital marketing and communication is important. This is something we do for our clients every day. However, digital communication is likely not a substitute for direct mail – it is a complementary platform. Some people prefer print; some prefer digital; most use both. Different people respond to different approaches and different times. That is why a multi-platform strategy is so important. When we have added digital communication to a direct mail program, we have seen the bottom-line increase as much as 18%.

More and more people are giving online. According to Non-Profit Source, 49% of all church giving transactions are made with a credit card and 60% are willing to give digitally. However digital communication and direct mail work best when used together: “Marketing campaigns that used direct mail and 1 or more digital media experienced 118% lift in response rate compared to using direct mail only.”

If you want to optimize the effectiveness of your direct mail and digital communication, Infinity Concepts is here to help. Contact DARRELL LAW our Chief Growth Officer at darrell@infinityconcepts.com or call us today at 724.733.1200 X26.

Mark Dreistadt

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