Can direct marketing still make an impact in our digital world?

James Wood - 20.02.2018

For years, marketers have been told about the impending death of direct mail. The rise of digital and its ability to provide instant communications made many believe direct mail was now obsolete.

However, Marketing Week recently reported that direct mail ad spend increased 5.9% year on year in the third quarter of 2017. What is behind this sudden resurgence? And does direct mail still truly have a place in today’s digital world?

Consumers increasingly seeking tangibility

At work, on the commute, at home — we’re constantly bombarded with digital interactions and are spending an increasing amount of our time staring at screens. It is perhaps then not surprising that people are looking for more tangible experiences.

This desire has seen vinyl sales rise for yet another year, and it suggests that consumers would willingly receive direct mail, as opposed to being faced with another online ad.


The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is fast approaching. As with those operating in the digital sphere, direct marketers will need to ensure they comply with the rules by 25 May.

Managing director of the DMA, Rachel Aldighieri, commented: “GDPR is a chance for the industry to transform how it operates and, rather than scaremongering about fines, it is a chance to talk to brands about the potential for mail and what can be achieved if you are more creative.”

New audience standard

One of the benefits of digital marketing is the ability to measure, analyse and evaluate the efficacy and reach of a campaign. But a new joint venture launched by the DMA, IPA, ISBA, Royal Mail and Whistl hopes to provide more clarity with regard to direct mail.

JICMail aims to encourage best practice and provide marketers with enhanced measurement, providing insights into mail readership, reach, and frequency of exposure to each item. According to Marketing Week, many in the industry view this new audience data standard as a “game changer.”

How can marketers ensure their direct mail makes an impact?

The key to success is in creativity. There has been a growing need for marketers to re-focus on the creative across disciplines, and this is certainly true for direct mail, especially as it is considered to be a more traditional route.

But brands don’t have to keep direct mail separate from their other marketing efforts. In fact, doing so could do more harm than good. Utilising technology to innovate their direct mail can bring new life and meaning to the medium, helping to improve the customer experience, boost engagement, and provide an omnichannel experience.

Aldighieri said: “Best practice means being creative and memorable but avoiding being gimmicky. You have to think about the customer benefit and entice, intrigue and entertain those being targeted.”

If marketers focus on these aspects, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t see success with their direct marketing campaigns.

Fancy adding direct mail back into your marketing mix? Fireworx can help you create innovative and creative campaigns that will distract your audience from their screens. Why not give us a call?