The Oracle Data Cloud blog highlights the latest data-driven insights and trends in digital marketing and ad tech.

Why direct mail still matters

This week’s guest blog post is contributed by Grace Zwaan, Head of Retail Marketing, Oracle Data Cloud.

Direct mail has been around for many years. But as digital growth continues to skyrocket, does direct mail still matter?

Our research shows the answer is yes.

We took a closer look at the medium and its current innovations, including the use of machine learning for targeting, to see how direct mail makes an impact in today’s cluttered marketing landscape.

The state of direct mail

Contrary to what you may have heard, direct mail is not dead. While distribution has declined, response rates have seen an uptick.

Although direct mail has a higher cost than some digital channels, according to research from the DMA, it also has a higher response rate of up to 5 percent vs. a high of 0.9 percent in digital.

Direct mail also reaches a highly important group for marketers: millennials. According to a 2016 study from InfoTrends, millennials are the most likely generation to read direct mail with 92 percent saying it influenced their purchasing decisions.

In fact, simply by default, this medium can reach across all generations and audiences—according to the USPS—as 98 percent of people check their mail. In today’s noisy advertising landscape, physical ads also create a stronger emotional response and a higher retention of content. 

Supplement your digital strategy

The holiday season specifically brings an oversaturation of promotions leading to fatigue from consumers, which makes it even harder to be heard. With only one touchpoint a day, direct mail cuts through the noise.

For best practice, marketers should integrate direct mail alongside digital to fuel a multichannel strategy, working across all customer touchpoints.

For example, catalogs serve as a web driver, with 30 percent of consumers reporting a catalog drove them online to shop. In fact, according to the DMA’s 2017 Statistical Fact Book, millennials and Gen Xers report an even higher 38 percent.

Where do you start to ensure a successful direct mail strategy? Let machine learning do the heavy lifting to find and activate the optimal audience. Here’s how:

  • New modeling engines, powered by machine learning, execute multiple models head-to-head in parallel and combination
  • A unique scoring approach is created for your specific objectives and the most important audience attributes are identified in real-time
  • The result is an optimized model for both accuracy and scale, which finds incremental names that perform
  • These modeling methods produce a 16 percent lift on average with some retail brands showing response rates up to 47 percent higher than average

Don’t get lost in the noise this holiday season by deploying a one-dimensional strategy. Instead, include all pieces of the puzzle, including direct mail powered by machine learning, and rise above the noise.

Contact The Data Hotline to discover more about creating an optimal direct mail strategy for your brand. (What's The Data Hotline?)

Read this next: More data-driven retail blogs

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