Direct Mail the Winner in Financial Services Category
Your postal carrier isn’t going away anytime soon – if ever!
36% of responding U.S. consumers in a recent marketing study said they prefer receiving financial information in their traditional mail box.
Putting this in perspective, email was preferred by only 8%.
In fact, study results show that regular mail was preferred over email in 14 of the categories measured.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons a majority of offers for credit cards and checking accounts arrive via your postal carrier.
No, these numbers did not come from the U.S. Postal Service. They came from Epsilon Data Management’s latest Consumer Channel Preference Study. Proof of Epsilon’s objectivity is that it is also the world’s largest permission-based email marketer.
As you might expect, it was the U.S. Postal Service that was more than happy to share some of the study’s findings in its May 2012 issue of deliver magazine – which, by the way, is available free to marketers. Are you on the mailing list?
For those of you in doubt as to the value of the postal service brand, here’s a quote from one of the two articles appearing in deliver: “Sixty percent of consumers report that they ‘enjoy checking the mailbox for Postal mail.’”
Frankly, I’m surprised it’s only 60% given the millions of consumers who shop online and are customers of Netflix, Amazon.com, and a host of other online retailers using the postal service to deliver packages and marketing mail.
“Trust” and “familiarity” are two reasons why so many consumers still rely on, and prefer, the U.S. mail over the newer digital channels. Both are important attributes that develop over time. There are no shortcuts.
What this means to marketers is that the traditional mail channel remains very important to many consumers and should be an integral part of your multi-channel marketing strategy.
If your bank or credit union isn’t currently using the traditional mail channel to deliver marketing messages, at a minimum you should be testing it. If you consider yourself customer-centric, then it makes sense to use those marketing channels preferred by your customers.
Here are some additional statistics reported in the May 2012 issue of deliver magazine:
- $45.8 billion was spent by marketers on direct mail in 2011 according to the Winterberry Group in their report “Outlook 2012: What To Expect in Direct and Digital Marketing.”
- 554,000,000 pieces of mail were processed on an average day in 2011 by the U.S. Postal Service.
- The U.S. Postal Service is predicting that direct mail expenditures for 2012 are expected to increase to $46.9 billion in 2012.
- In the business to business market, 79% of professionals consider direct mail to be “effective” or “very effective” as reported at Ballantine.com in the article “Direct Mail Statistics Show B2B Mailings are Still Effective.”
- The preference for direct mail includes consumers in the 18-34 age group according to the recent Epsilon Consumer Channel Preference Study.
What I find disturbing is the large number of banks and credit unions that have abandoned the traditional direct mail channel in favor of the newer digital channels. To me this is placing hope above reality.
Remember, General Motors recently announced it was discontinuing its $10 million advertising campaign on Facebook because of poor results.
Unfortunately, I suspect that many of today’s younger financial services marketers erroneously believe that the traditional direct mail channel provides only spray and pray opportunities while email and social media are the masters of targeting.
Little could be further from the truth.
Believe it or not, the U.S. Postal Service is a major innovator.
Yes, your local post office probably looks about the same as it did 20 or 30 years ago. And the look of your mail delivery person hasn’t changed over the years. But looks are deceiving when it comes to the U.S. Postal Service. Invisible to consumers and many marketers is what’s happening in the back room.
Today’s U.S. Postal Service is extremely efficient at processing and delivering the mail in the shortest time possible. In addition, postal service experts work closely with a large number of direct response marketing vendors to provide very sophisticated targeting campaigns.
At a minimum, you owe it to yourself and your employer to get up to speed on the latest capabilities of the traditional direct mail channel. I believe you’ll be shocked and surprised at what you’ll discover.
And you just might wonder why you’ve been avoiding using direct mail for the past decade or longer.