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Don’t Call It a Comeback
By Rod DeVar, manager of direct mail, USPS®

Marketers are cost-conscious by nature. But last year’s economic meltdown forced them to look even harder for efficiencies, and it’s a mindset they’ll keep as the market recovers. But through it all, direct mail has been — and will continue to be — a viable, effective marketing tool. Here’s why:

1. It’s a strong acquisition tool. Marketers like paying lower prices to search for new customers online, but they’re often disappointed when these folks don’t stick around. That’s because targeting new acquisitions online is much less precise than sending a mail piece to prospects you know will likely be repeat purchasers.

2. Technology continues to improve. Variable data printing is letting marketers acknowledge customers as individuals. Not only will more marketers take advantage of it, those already using it will get smarter about their applications by using customer data to better track relationships and tailor content as wants and needs change. That’s important, because increased personalization makes direct mail more relevant to the end user.

3. Newspapers are suffering. As newspaper circulation dwindles, it will spur a significant migration to the mail by those marketers (particularly retailers) that need to reach a high number of people in a very targeted, geographic location.

4. Content marketing is on the rise. Transpromotion and custom publishing are delivering marketing messages in more personal and relevant ways, with information woven right in the content — a plus for both marketers and recipients. Custom publishing continues strong growth because consumers like the quality, and with transpromotion the senders of statements and bills can include marketing messages that connect with how the customer is using their services.

5. Clean lists are eco-friendly. As marketers continue to address list hygiene, they’ll be mailing more efficiently. Not only will that deliver a better return, it also is good for the planet, because the number of wasteful pieces will decline.

6. Mail will be even easier to track. More marketers will begin using the Intelligent Mail® barcode, a new Postal Service™ barcode used to sort and track letters and flats. With it, they’ll be receiving more detailed information than ever on how and when their direct mail is being delivered, as well as how customers are responding.

Before you kick off your 2010 efforts, know this: The recession has created new norms for the marketing realm. Many tried-and-true formulas for evaluating media effectiveness and accountability won’t measure up to your heightened need to accomplish stronger results for less investment. But direct mail will continue to perform.

---Source: Deliver Magazine Dec. 2009 issue (www.delivermagazine.com). Rod DeVar is manager of direct mail at the USPS.


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