Date: August 14, 2012
Analyst: Kate Korczykowski, Media Director
Subject: Direct Mail in the Age of Digital
Direct mail has been a part of the promotional landscape for 140 years, since the advent of the Montgomery Ward Catalogue in 1872. Mail has unparalleled reach across the US with both consumers and HCPs and multiple studies have verified, across dozens of specialties, the continuing access and regular use of mail as a source of information. Direct mail encompasses: letters, postcards, oversized envelopes, dimensional mailers and catalogues.
There is a perception among marketers, however, that HCPs don’t actually see or open their own mail. Framing the dialogue in a different way can shape the view differently: today, mail is best used as a component of a fully integrated multi-channel campaign, regardless of the audience targeted.
Information, research and strategies on direct mail may be found in countless sources. Below are two of the best:
While the use of direct mail to the consumer population remains an unquestioned, though evolving, tool for marketers, its use in HCP marketing is often called into question. Studies by Nielsen, direct marketing companies, and most recently CMI/Compas, confirm tremendous direct mail access across all specialties. Digging deeper, studies show that direct mail often ranks among the top MD-cited sources of product information (after sales reps and journals), showing that, beyond access, there is significant use of the materials received in this format.
There are still perceived weaknesses to the channel, while its virtues go forgotten:
– Low start up cost
– Awareness driver
– Well integrated with other channels
– Variable (many other formats available)
– Wide reach
– “Old fashioned”
– Low open rate
– Perception that only usable with older targets
– Postal costs
– Perception that HCPs don;t open their own mail
HCP direct mail has evolved tremendously along with the rest of the media channels competing urgently within the digital world. Now, most direct mail campaigns have within them the connectivity to other channels via the use of a web key, or QR code, or still, the ever useful business reply card (BRC). In fact, direct mail is among the easiest to integrate with other channel efforts due to its variability and reach.
There are ways we recommend to enhance the success of direct mail campaigns and elevate their open and response rates:
1) Coordinate the use of an email campaign: studies show the two channels enhance each other greatly.
2) Consider use of a purchased list (washed against the brand’s owned list to find targets): use of a purchased list often outperforms the company’s own list, generally because the lists are updated and used more frequently.
3) Consider use of a dimensional mailer: dimensional mail greatly outperforms flat mailers.
4) Consider mailing under the auspices of the provider: direct mail providers’ branded envelopes outperform those branded by pharmaceutical companies
We strongly urge that to achieve top campaign success, all promotional components, regardless of channel, should be integrated by having a consistent creative execution and message. During the planning process, CMI planners can assure ideal channel selection by vetting your target list to determine precise access points.