Fate of Direct Mail Favorable

Direct mail is going to stick around for a while as research from the Direct Mail Information Service (DMIS) indicates that marketers are not ready to abandon the medium for Web-based ads yet. In fact, like postal rates, the amount of direct mail seems to be rising. According to the findings from DMIS there has been more than 100 percent growth in the last decade.

UK Direct Mail Volumes – 1990 – 2001
(million items)
Consumer Business Total
1990 1544 728 2272
1991 1435 687 2122
1992 1658 588 2246
1993 1772 664 2436
1994 2015 715 2730
1995 2198 707 2905
1996 2436 737 3173
1997 2700 887 3588
1998 3123 891 4014
1999 3283 1062 4345
2000 3516 1148 4664
2001 3706 1233 4939
Source: Royal Mail

Among the 100 UK advertisers that were surveyed by DMIS, only 7 percent directly replaced their postal mail marketing with a Web-based strategy. Other media replaced include magazines (5 percent), inserts, national press and trade press (4 percent each), sales promotion and local press (2 percent).

Marketers would be wise not to abandon any one medium over the other, but to use a creative mix of strategies instead. While direct mail offers advantages such as personalization, indicated by 48 percent of respondents; the ability to target non-Internet users (39 percent); tangibility (28 percent); and reading portability (22 percent), Web-based marketing is less costly and faster to produce.

DMIS also found that UK advertisers viewed Web sites as providers of information or services, a means of placing orders and a way to enhance the company profile. Customer care, data capture and customer relationship management techniques were generally seen as secondary, rather than principal, functions. However, 90 percent were actively collecting basic contact details on their customers, 87 percent were collecting basic contact details on prospects, and over 60 percent sent direct mail consumers whose data was captured online.

Overall, the research did not indicate an immediate threat to direct mail. A view of the marketing strategies that will be considered over the next two years showed that direct mail would remain unaffected, according to the majority (61 percent) of respondents.

A small portion (7 percent) expected an increase in direct mail spending over the next two years, 20 percent projected an increase over the next three years, and 16 percent say they will probably see an increase in direct mail activity both in the next two years and in the longer term. On the negative side, 11 percent say direct mail will probably decrease in the next three years, and 3 percent say it will definitely fall in the long term.

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