A recent study confirms that direct mail is still the most effective form of marketing available today. The study, created by Fournaise Marketing Group, evaluated and compiled the marketing campaigns of over 3,000 marketing professionals from businesses of all sizes and concluded that direct mail constitutes 35% of all marketing spending worldwide.   According to Jerome Fontaine, CEO of Fournaise, “If you listen to the industry hype, it’s all about online advertising and emerging mobile advertising. If you check where marketing budgets are mostly spent, it’s still all about traditional media such as TV and newspapers.  But when it comes down to effectiveness, while it may not be the most glamorous and talked-about medium, marketers are telling us DM is still the best platform for delivering results.”  Direct mail marketing was rated as the most effective means of marketing in both the business to business and in the business to consumer marketing sectors.

What is it about direct mail the makes it so effective?  There are 8 powerful characterstics that are key to its success:

1. Direct Mail is Personal
Unlike an advertisement in the newspaper or other media that can be read by anyone, your sales letter arrives as a piece of personal communication addressed specifically to a well qualified prospect. Unlike other mediums, direct mail can be personalized (Dear Mr. Jones) and customized to each reader (“As a retired investor, you know that… “), showing your prospect that you know them by name and are somewhat familiar with them.
2. Cost Effective
Advertising by its very nature is expensive. To reach a lot of people, you need to spend a lot of money. Direct mail, on the other hand, only targets the prospects you want to reach. Instead of pitching your product to a huge audience of potential buyers, you aim your sales message only at prospects most likely to buy.

3. Breaks Through the Marketing Mess
Your ad can easily get lost among all of the competing ads in the newspaper, phone book or internet. Likewise, your message can be easily forgotten on radio or television unless you repeat it many times, which is incredibly expensive and out of reach for most companies.  With a simple letter, addressed to your prospect by name your message cuts through the media clutter and has an opportunity to get their attention.

4. Measurable Results
Direct mail is one of the best mediums for measuring the financial return on your marketing dollar. Simply find a method for uniquely identifying the response and you’ll quickly be able to determine your cost per lead and net results.  This can be done using a unique phone number, business reply cards or even by using a code name like “Sam” who prospects are instructed to ask for when responding.

5. Predictable
One advantage of knowing the success rates of your past mailings is that you can predict the success of future mailing. If you mail the same package with the same offer to a similar group of prospects, you can acurately predict how many responses you will receive and how those will translate into sales.

6. Improves with Testing
Because you can measure your direct mail results, you can also test the variables used within your mailings. Test one version of copy against another, one list against another, one offer against another and you’ll discover what works and what doesn’t. This allows you immediately improve your results and to spend your marketing dollars where they are most effective without relying on guess work or hunches.

7. Immediate Results
General advertising, sometimes called “branding”, builds product or company awareness. There is no direct action that is requested in branding, only presenting the product to potential prospects, hoping that it will result in long term familiarity.  This is an effective approach, but it can take months, even years to produce results.  Direct mail asks for action now and explains the advantages of responding today.

8. Secret
If your tired of having your competition steal many of your good marketing ideas, direct mail can help keep them more private.  While it is still possible for a competitor to see your direct mail, it makes it much more difficult than an ad in the newspaper of similar mass media approach.

These 8 factors come together synergistically in direct mail, creating an incredibly effective form of marketing.  To further enhance the effects of direct mail, try incorporating it into a multi-channel approach also using the internet, e-mail or PURLS.