Direct Mail in the Digital Age

In 1775, Ben Franklin was appointed as the first US Postmaster General after Congress determined that the transportation and distribution of letters and intelligence across the colonies was vital to the success of the American Revolutionary War. 17 years later, the Postal Service Act was signed into law by President George Washington, establishing the United States Post Office Department, and ensuring that everyone across the United States retained access to “secure, efficient, and affordable mail service.”

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Electronic mail arrived almost exactly 200 years later, when Ray Tomlinson used ARPANET to send the first email message between two computers sitting next to each other in 1971. Shocking as it may seem, no one at the time was asking for something like email. Tomlinson is often quoted as claiming he invented email “Mostly because it seemed like a neat idea.”

Today, our inboxes are jam-packed with incoming messages while our physical mailboxes seem to be coming up a little light. Here are three reasons why direct mail advertising makes more and more sense in an increasingly digital world.

Less Competition

The US Postal Service reported handling over 160 billion mail pieces in 2012. That sounds like a lot…until you consider that worldwide email totaled 144.8 billion DAILY, according to technology market research firm The Radicati Group.

Then factor in the additional digital activity taking place via online social networks: Facebook has a user base of 1.15 billion (with half of that user base showing daily activity), Twitter users generate over 140 billion posts annually, and that doesn’t even address the other 50+ social sites that attract wide, active user bases.

160 billion doesn’t seem so enormous anymore, does it?

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Fixed Cost

Unlike some digital methods of advertising, there is little price fluctuation when it comes to sending direct mail pieces.

The current rate to mail a standard, first class letter through the US Postal Service is $0.46. It doesn’t matter what your message is, who your competitors are, where the mail originates or arrives, or who sees it…a 1oz. letter will cost you $0.46 to put into the hands of a consumer. Want to cut costs? Try using a postcard instead and getting the postcard rate of $0.33.

Guaranteed Delivery

Remember those 144 billion+ emails being sent and received daily? Software company Symantec believes that as much as 70% of them could be spam, and owes much of their revenue success to PREVENTING mail from reaching its intended recipient.

At the same time, email marketing statistics suggest that nearly 50% of people mark email as spam based on the name or email address of the sender, and nearly 70% based just on the subject line. Compare that to various reports from the last decade indicating successful, on-time delivery rates of between 88% and 97% for the US Postal ServiceFedEx, and UPS.

Here at Kendall Press, we stand behind our belief that a combination of Paper and Pixels is key to communicating with the audience you want. If you find yourself looking for new options to increase your visibility and reach, contact us today. We’re happy to share our experiences.

Jason, for the team at Kendall Press

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