Direct Mail: Why an Old School Approach Still Works in an Online Age


Direct_Mail-_Why-An-Old-School-Approach-Still-Works-In-an-Online-Age.jpgMore than 20 years ago business experts were starting to say, “The internet changes everything!” As it turns out, they were right. It’s hard to imagine a business or organization today without a web presence.

Some experts back in the day also predicted that conventional marketing methods such as direct mail would simply go away. That hasn’t quite happened. But why not?

When it is so easy to reach so many people so quickly (and inexpensively) online, why hasn’t an old school approach such as direct mail disappeared? Why do businesses and organizations continue to use direct mail in an online age?

It Gets People to Your Site

For one thing, just having a website doesn’t guarantee that anyone is going to visit it. According to, there were at least 4.27 billion indexed pages on the internet as of June 7, 2016. That’s an awfully big haystack in which to find a needle of a web page. Smart direct mail can point your customers and constituents to exactly the right place. Not only can you use it to direct prospects to your website, but you can guide them directly to a specific landing page that contains exactly the information they are looking for.

It Provides a Gentle Reminder

It’s pretty well documented that people don’t always respond to a marketing message the first time they hear it. We’ve seen studies that say it takes at least seven “touches” before some people will respond. Sending an email is quick and easy, but for many people it’s irritating to be contacted that often. Most people don’t keep emails like that. They trash them. On the other hand, many people will hold onto a card mailing until they are ready to act. It’s something we call “stickiness” in the direct mail world. It’s a gentle reminder (you only sent it once) that there is still action to be taken.

Tactile Advantage

Something about receiving physical mail (even if it’s a simple card) is different than getting an email or reading something online. Holding a physical card in your hand can make it seem more “real.” It engages the reader (they have to turn the card over to see what’s on the other side). It somehow extends the interaction.

Has the internet really changed everything? That’s beyond dispute. Has the world moved online? Absolutely. But getting the right people to the right site is still a challenge—and it’s a challenge direct mail is uniquely positioned to meet.

Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing