The power and importance of mail

OK, Summer’s over…back to serious work! I wanted to post a few facts about the power and importance of direct mail. In today’s world of “web hysteria” I think it is important to remember what really drives most, if not all, B2B catalog businesses. In the spirit of full disclosure, much of this information comes courtesy of our friends with mailing related businesses like USPS and Pitney Bowes. Nonetheless, facts are facts. BTW, if you don’t have a good working relationship with your USPS rep, you are missing out on good information and advice.

Ponder these facts and studies: (and read my conclusions at the end!)
1. Public Television stations have reversed their decline in acquiring new donors through direct mail campaigns. Finding from a study analyzing 700 campaigns representing 34 million pieces mailed:
• $295.32 was raised per thousand pieces mailed in 2009, up 16.3% from 2008.
• Average gift was $42.10 up from $41.64.
2. R2integrated news release, Marketers Indicate Social Media Important, Most Not Profiting, Many Still Learning, April 14, 2010.
• 54% thought social media was innovative and invaluable to their business
• 65% said their companies had not increased revenue or profited using social media.
• When it comes to using social media, 53% of respondents stated they were “still learning” or “behind the curve.”
3. USPS Household Diary Study–Direct Mail, August 2009
• 79% of all households read or scan the advertising mail sent to their home
• 31% of households made a purchase as a result of ad mail received
• 48% of households read catalogs
• 28% of homes read credit card advertising
4. ExactTarget, 2009 Channel Preference Study, accessed November 3, 2009
• For young and old, direct mail directly influenced the purchase of an item or a service more than any other channel
• 76% of Internet users said they were directly influenced by direct mail; 67% were influenced by TV; email 58%
• 75% of 25-34 year-olds have made a purchase as a result of direct mail.
• 62% of 18-24 year olds purchased due to direct mail.
• 55% of teens were direct mail influenced.
5. Adweek Media/Harris Poll, Which Ad Medium Helps Bargain Hunters Most?, January 18, 2010
• Print outscored other media for ads that would help a person find bargains
• 23% said newspaper and magazine ads helped them find bargains; Online ads scored 18%; direct mail/catalogs 12%; TV 11%.
• 34% said that the type of ad makes no difference.
6. ATG’s Cross-Channel Commerce: The Consumer View report, March 2010
• 78% of consumers are using multiple channels to research, shop, and ultimately completetheir purchase
• 78% use catalogs to browse and discover new products and services.
• 60% make a purchase via catalogs 4 times a year or more. 13% are using mobile devices to make purchase 4 times a year.
• Consumers browse and research online, then make the purchase in the store–39% went to the store to touch/feel the products; 36% visited the store to compare brands; 22% visited the store because they needed the product immediately
7. Outsell’s Annual Advertising and Marketing Study, March 2010
• 72% said multiple formats together were extremely or somewhat effective – Unica, State of Marketing 2010 Survey, March 2010
• 75% of marketers with an online presence make use of the online data they collect—customer interest, intent, behavior–when making their online and offline marketing decisions.
• 74% use web data to complement their email marketing offers
• 58% of marketers apply data collected online towards their direct mail marketing offers
• 46% use onsite personalized web offers based on integrating web data.

OK, here’s my take:
1. In today’s multi-channel world choice of media is never an either/or question. In fact, I see mail first, phone second and web third when it comes to driving (i.e. creating orders and new customers, not to be confused with “taking”) B2B business.
2. The mail and phone have “interruption power”. They intrude and must be responded to in one way or another. In the online world, nothing….absolutely nothing happens until a prospective customer sits in front of a computer. Think about it.
3. Online marketing and media are gaining an ever growing share of marketing spend at technology delivers new and different ways to find, talk to and service customers. It is spectacular growth but still a relatively small fraction of most marketing budgets in B2B catalog businesses. It will continue to grow faster and be a more important part of the mix as we apply our DNA “test and rollout” methodologies.
4. In a B2B catalog business, nothing (so far!) in online marketing is as important as managing your customer circulation effectively using RFMCP – recency, frequency, monetary, channel and product.
5. There is a world of online buyers out there. You will get your largest share of those buyers using a multi-channel approach….not any single approach.
6. As always….watch the balance. The balance between where you focus and where you get your results. I see too many marketing teams spending too much time on internet projects while neglecting the basics of the business. I also see too many companies making risky decisions about online marketing investments in the belief that it will TOTALLY overtake their mail or phone programs in the near future. Some are even stopping all their prospect mail, cutting customer circulation and reducing their telesales staff. While there are always exceptions, I believe this to be dangerous territory for most B2B catalog marketers….unless they are totally changing their business model along with such changes.

Are you struggling with the balance between your offline and online marketing investments?   Are you having trouble measuring the effectiveness/ROI of each.  Please call me.

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at or (954) 383-5221        

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ or (954) 383-5221

Comments or questions are welcome.

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