Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Just the Facts: Why Direct Mail Is Alive--and Thriving

DBM Designs' experience as a partner with successful direct mail programs has helped us ignore the perennial claims of direct mail's demise. But for marketers who still doubt snail mail's continued marketing power, we're happy to share this year's facts from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) 2015 Statistical Fact Book and its latest Response Rate Report. For one thing, company spending on direct mail continues to grow, not shrink, with $46 billion spent on direct mail in 2014—up from $44.8 billion in 2013. Organizations also are expected to spend $9.3 billion on data for direct mail in 2015, an increase over the previous two years. One reason for direct mail's staying power with marketers is that it continues to lead in response. Average response rates for direct mail are 3.7% for house lists and 1% for prospect names, which are both higher rates than for mobile, paid search, social media. Internet display ads and e-mail. For example, e-mail scores an average 0.1% response for customers and prospects. Only telemarketing beats direct mail in response power at 9%-10%, per DMA data. At $19 average cost per acquisition for house lists, direct mail acquisition also costs less than paid search ($21-$30) and Internet display ads ($41-$50) and is close to the $16-$18 CPA of mobile and social. Direct mail does lose out to e-mail ($11-$15) on CPA for house lists. But DMA's most important metric--median ROI--shows why direct mail in still in the game and not on the bench. Although e-mail and telemarketing lead in median ROI (21%-23% and 19%-20%, respectively) compared with direct mail's 15%-17%, direct mail ROI is still on par with social media and way ahead of mobile, paid search and Internet display. For more direct marketing industry benchmarks and response details by direct mail package type and customer target (business or consumer), see

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