Opportunity to Go Direct
Personalized direct mail is growing, and there is an opportunity for printers and marketers alike to integrate it into an omni-channel marketing plan, one that can marry production inkjet printing and big data in a cohesive way.
According to Canon (Booth 1213) 2016 thINK Conference keynoter Jonathan Margulies, Managing Director, Winterberry Group, printer providers are hearing that story more often now.
In his presentation, titled “Lessons Learned: What a Decade of Disruption Tells Us About Direct Mail’s Future,” Margulies explored the steady increase of direct mail spending and annual growth, specifically the 1.1% CAGR that was recorded from 2009-2015, according to a Winterberry Group analysis. And although Margulies pointed out that direct mail piece volumes have decreased—volume CAGR was -1.1% between 2009-2015, according to the same analysis—the fact that direct mail spending and growth are on the rise likely indicates that spending per piece has increased. This could be attributed to the increase in data-driven, more targeted, and personalized direct mail campaigns, which boost the value-add to each printed piece.
Margulies also pointed out that the direct mail market has grown in “lockstep with the economy” since 2013, and that while “digital migration” remains top of mind as a threat, there has been no proven substitute for direct marketing.
In fact, when U.S. marketers were asked which media channels are “best suited to drive value in concert with the deployment of other media channels,” direct mail ranked fourth (40%) behind only email, owned web content—such as websites and social media—and search, according to Winterberry Group’s “From Theory to Practice: Bringing Omni-Channel to Life” report that was published in 2016. This means that direct mail is valued above print and broadcast advertising, event marketing, traditional, and digital signage, and more, revealing its perceived value in the marketing space.
Across various marketing goals, omni-channel efforts also seemed to impress upon U.S. marketers a feeling of great value, according to IAB/Winterberry Group. With direct mail being one of the aforementioned top media channels that is perceived as driving the most value, it stands to reason that direct mail may be one of the great opportunities for direct mail professionals to pursue.
The report revealed that U.S. marketers overwhelmingly believe that direct mail is well-suited for the “acquisition of specific, uniquely qualified customers.” The same group also believes that “acquisition of ‘in-market’ customers” and “win-back of previous/lapsed customers” suggests that “targeted acquisition” is unquestionably direct mail’s true sweet spot.
Another interesting observation that Margulies pointed out in his presentation is that in today’s world of data-driven marketing, direct mail poses a unique opportunity for growth. Personalized direct mail that targets recipients based on specific data points will increase response rates and, ultimately, provide marketers with a better ROI in comparison to other channels.
What does this mean for print and marketing services providers? Marketers’ desire for data-driven, omni-channel campaigns marry very well with the personalization capabilities enabled by production inkjet presses. Margulies pointed out that with the economy expected to grow annually at approximately 2.5%, marketing budgets will continue to rise. However, it’s not enough just to invest in direct mail—both printers and marketers will need to remain innovative and analytical to be successful.
Unlike other forms of omni-channel marketing, direct mail lands directly in the hands of the intended recipient; it’s tangible; and, if done well, can be highly effective. The capabilities of high-speed production inkjet presses make it an agreeable fit for the intricacies of data-driven direct mail, making it a compatible match for the growing industry.