Is Direct Mail Marketing Dead?

August 22, 2017

I spend a vast majority of my time planning and executing digital marketing campaigns. Most of my time goes into digital analytics, search engine optimization, and paid media advertising. The entire basis of HLM digital is that we use a digital focused marketing strategy to achieve business goals, but some traditional marketing channels should not be ignored. Today’s society does most of their communicating digitally via email, direct messaging applications, and text message but don’t underestimate the power of direct mail as a marketing tool.



Infographic from


Don’t be Blinded by Perception

The general consensus when it comes to mail based advertising is that it is a dead medium. With Social media, search engine and email marketing becoming more prevalent many analog based channels are often overlooked, but as the above infographic shows perception is often mistaken and a majority of consumers actually prefer direct mail as a channel for receiving promotions. The Canada Post estimates that 74% of Canadians will notice advertising in direct mail. Many mail distribution agencies allow for radius and postal code targeting so it is very simple to target households or businesses that may be potential customers to your local business.

Infuse Mail into your Digital Campaign

If you are debating whether direct mail can work to promote your business do not look at it as creating a mail campaign or a digital campaign rather find a way to have your mail out compliment your digital campaign. Using analog and digital mediums in tandem is a great way to stay top of mind with potential customers. An example of this can be a local Facebook advertising campaign targeting the same postal codes as a mail out this will likely guarantee your advertisement to be seen by people on multiple channels ensuring a higher chance of resonating with users. Another example of using mail with digital media is by taking advantage of digital retargeting. Both Facebook and Google offer in-depth retargeting capability, a mail out can be used to bring in potential customers to an exact domain while retargeting can then be used to keep these interested parties engaged with your website.



Let’s Make a Case Study

Say you are working to promote a local hair salon and have created a detailed digital marketing strategy complete with landing pages, social media presence, and a promising PPC marketing campaign. This can very well be a successful campaign by itself but this hair salon also has a great opportunity for a direct mail campaign. Attaching a coupon to the campaign is a good way to convince those who receive the flyer to come to for a haircut and anyone who goes online due to seeing the flyer can be easily retargeted for a follow up digital campaign.


“consumers brains paid 39% more attention to integrated direct mail and digital campaigns than to single-media digital campaigns”


Retain consumer attention

The strategy of integrating direct mail into a digital campaign has proven success from Canada Post who state that this multiple channel marketing strategy has resulted in 10% higher brand recall as well and 5% more brand arousal when compared to purely digital campaigns. The Canada Post also estimates that “consumers brains paid 39% more attention to integrated direct mail and digital campaigns than to single-media digital campaigns.”

District 28 Case Study

So maybe you don’t trust my made up hair salon case study, that’s fine, while working with the company District 28  I implemented a number of direct mail campaigns into their marketing strategy with notable results. District 28 Bar Bistro has had a few different mail outs integrated into their marketing all with good results but two specifically had “head turning” results. The first was back in December when DIstrict 28 released their new menu, the menu was sent in the mail directly to potential consumers to promote the menus grand launch. The launch event ended up packed with a number of people stating they came directly from the mail out. Later in February District 28 used a similar campaign to promote their now regular Sunday Brunch. Their first brunch was on Mother’s Day and a mixture of social media and direct mail advertising was successfully used to fill the house on Mother’s day.



District 28 WorkSpaces another wing of the District 28 ecosystem that focuses on their coworking space also found success with direct mail marketing. A flyer was used to promote the space to freelancers currently working from home. The flyer worked very well and those who visited the website after seeing the flyer converted 8.9% of the time. This is over double District 28 WorkSpaces normal conversion rate of 4.3%. In fact, this direct mail campaign has had a superior conversion rate to any traditional digital marketing channel.

Final Thoughts

There are obvious flaws to a direct mail campaign. Costs can quickly ramp up between printing and distribution, these costs get especially high for more complex printing jobs. The targeting options are also not as good, typically distributors allow for targeting based on location as well as targeting specifically houses, apartments, or businesses. While these targeting options can be good for local establishments with broad target markets mail campaigns do not offer nearly the flexible targeting of digital campaigns. Even with its shortcomings direct mail campaigns especially when incorporated into digital media campaigns can often have incredible ROI and are a great resource for businesses targeting local customers.

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