Is direct mail dead?

It’s widely assumed nowadays that direct mail (DM) is dead in the water. A waste of time. A redundant marketing technique not worth investing in.

But, what would you say if I told you that Modern’s last direct mail campaign delivered £1m in sales revenue and a 30:1 ROI for the client?

Would you believe me?

Too many marketers have started to question the value of a good old-fashioned direct mail campaign.

Yes, initially, this communication veteran can come across dull. But there are still ways to make it interesting.

Covid-19 has posed multiple challenges for DM campaigns. However, breaking the digital mould and sending something tangible is a welcome change for audiences – most of which are almost 1-year into working remotely. Not to mention the ever-rising competition in the B2B digital marketing space, putting strain on budgets and impacting the number of impressions we can make.

So, here are a few ways to make you fall back in love with direct mail and ensure your direct mail campaigns continue to be successful:

Overcome ‘working from home’

The current climate has really made us re-think the logistics of direct mails. With 52% of the UK now working from home, it’s become more difficult to send direct mails due to recipients not being at the company office. And searching for the home address of each contact isn’t ideal.

An alternative way to grab your recipient’s attention is through personalised video messages. Sending a dedicated video message to someone is a really effective way of not only raising brand awareness and providing information but opening the door and building a rapport.

With a surge in video usage, making good quality videos has never been easier. There are several tools out there (some free) to help you create short and personalised video messages, such as Drift Video and Soapbox.

Don’t have the recipients email address? Fear not. Try sending video messages via LinkedIn InMail.

Some tools even integrate with LinkedIn, making it even easier for you to create content right from within the channel.

Just like direct mails, personal information can help make it a success. Including a handwritten note of the recipient’s name in the video and using as the thumbnail picture makes it clear that this content has been created for them.

If you can overcome the address problem, then try a physical DM

Right now, physical DMs are hard work due to recipients being based from home and not at the office. But if you can work out a way to access the correct address of your recipient, such as asking interested prospects, then they will be surprised and delighted to receive your mail.

Here’s what you need to consider:

Be romantic

A lot of people associate mail with bills, tax reminders or even parking fines. So, when you receive something addressed to you that isn’t requesting money, it’s exciting and a little romantic.

Email isn’t dead, but you do struggle to compete in inbox’s because they’re cluttered. It’s undeniable that direct mail is declining and with most bills moving to direct debits and paperless, soon, anything flying through letterboxes will be a novelty. Which is exactly why your message will have a chance of standing out and being remembered when it lands on the desks and doormats of your recipients.

In the UK, we use over 12.5 million tonnes of paper each year, which equates to a forest the size of Wales. This is a real problem for the environment so, it’s not recommended to send whole tree’s worth of post, but when done sensibly, people like physical mail – even more if it’s recyclable!

Get creative

The direct mail is only as successful as the creativity behind it. Thinking of a relatable and fun direct mail within budget can be tricky, at Modern we gather the team and conduct a workshop where we explore each and every idea until we have a handful of exciting and suitable ideas to explore further.

The direct mail that is likely to resonate should be fun and engaging. A favourite of Modern’s was a multi-sensory direct mail for our client Zendesk, which involved a bottle of secret sauce.

Yes, you read that right.

Secret Sauce.

Make a campaign out of it

As marketers, the choice of channel can sometimes be overwhelming – especially when you have a budget.

Just like most marketing campaigns, they include a mixture of channels. Ensuring your brand and messaging achieves the desired impact, it’s important to get it in front of your target audience multiple times, as per the effective frequency. Direct mail is no different, adding a physical mailer to your digital campaign can pack a big punch.

At Modern, direct mailers are often used in ABM projects in conjunction with digital activities. This is because they offer a great opportunity to give your target contacts a clever and personalised message right in their hands. Research found a 135% increase in direct mail response rates when a person’s name was included and a further 365% if the direct mail included a name and another piece of personal information.

Compliment your digital strategy with a personal touch and include a relevant and creative direct mail piece. Here’s how we helped Crimson, a Microsoft partner, target a key vertical with a mixed medium approach.


Having a crazy direct mail idea is fantastic, but unless that person does what you want them to do, it’s redundant.

You may be familiar with your average performance metrics of your email, social and search campaigns, but do you know the return on investment of your direct mailers? Recent research found that direct mail had a response rate of 5.1%, it doesn’t sound like much, but when you hold it up against that of email (0.6%) and social media (0.4%), it should be taken seriously.

So it’s important to make sure you get ROI from your direct mail. Ensure that whilst you lead them down a path, your communication has clear next actions and tracking in place to monitor and guarantee results.
Curious to know how you’re performing? Check out our blog on knowing your marketing performance.

Make it trackable

Being able to track activity and prospect journeys is key for marketers to understand the effectiveness of their activities, and ultimately know if a campaign was successful or not and why.

Direct mail is no different for marketers and should be tracked as closely as possible. There’s an abundance of couriers out there all offering similar services, including tracked delivery, guaranteed delivery and signed for (including proof of signature). All of which can be used to track a marketing direct mail.

Yes, it’s impossible to track what percentage of the direct mail the recipient has read or how many of them threw it in the junk draw. But who says you have to stay physical? Including things like URLs and QR codes can add to the message and mystery. And as a result, sending them digital means becoming trackable.

What’s next?

So no, direct mail isn’t dead. Do you need to think more outside of the post box? Probably.

At Modern, we enjoy seeing our clients get results from the direct mails we’ve helped create. If you think a direct mail could be right for your audience, get in touch.

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