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We’ve spoken quite a lot in our blogs about the emergence of new technologies, such as social media and mobile internet, and how fantastic they are at moving brands from communication to conversation and thereby driving-up consumer interaction. However, even before the rise of Web 2.0 there was email and websites – the fundamental components of the internet – which allowed for cheaper and quicker digital direct.

So, with so much competition from cheaper digital communications, is traditional direct mail dead? And, if not, how does it plan to survive, especially in these time of economic hardship?

As the late ’80′s brought new design and print methods direct mailing became much cheaper alternative to telemarketing. However, over the ’90′s the term ‘direct mail’ became synonymous with ‘junk mail’ due to the high volume of, often non-relevant, mail received by consumers each day.

With the increase in postage costs, a declining response rate, and a new cheap electronic mail service, it is easy to see why marketers began converting to direct email. But over a decade later many companies are now finding that around 90% of their direct emails are left unopened and their response rates are just 2%.

Is Web 2.0 the answer to these problems? Or will it simply become yet another oversaturated market?

The most important development available through Web 2.0 is the ability to bring a two-way conversation to a highly-targeted market. Consumers are receiving more relevant advertising, are able to interact with the brand online, and more data can be collected about the market audience. However, because Web 2.0 is so cheap to run, anyone with a computer can now market themselves online, leading to a horrendously overrun marketing arena.

So how can we, as marketers, overcome this plethora of issues?

By integrating various marketing approaches.

Did you know that the age group with the highest response rate to direct mail is now 18-24 year olds? They are so used to managing everything online that any mail is now treated as unusual and exciting. A much less surprising statistic is that only 35% of those aged 65+ use the internet, and 61% of those who don’t do not intend to (source: Ofcom UK Adults’ Media Literacy Report). So if your target market includes the 65+ age group, using only internet marketing will miss-out on a large proportion of your audience.

Many marketers are also still unaware of the technologies that allow for a substantial crossover between direct mail and web 2.0. Technology such as XMPie’s variable data printing service and analytics feedback platform allow for highly-targeted, highly-personalised direct mail. The emergence of QR codes also allows the mobile generation to quickly and easily interact with your brand and can provide some essential data and customer contact information.

By using consumer data collected through the web and social media companies now have the opportunity to personalise mailers to very specific audiences and gain a valuable insight into their target market. When combined with technology such as QR codes, as well as social media campaigns, response rates improve dramatically. So it seems that direct mail isn’t yet dead, but is surviving the way all organisms do – by adapting to the new environment.

For more information on direct mail and how it can improve response rates for your business contact us today, we’re always happy to help.

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