Like the dinosaurs of days past, has print direct mail begun its own inevitable trudge toward the tar pits?
That’s clearly the question raised by new research from the Winterberry Group.
As reported in eMarketer Daily this week, Winterberry noted a
3 percent dip in DM spending in 2008, the first drop in year-over-year DM spend in 45 years.
Winterberry also cites research by Mintel Comperemedia, which recorded a
12 percent drop in DM volume — the actual number of pieces mailed. Both data points are captured in a Winterberry report titled, A Channel in Transformation: Vertical Market Trends in Direct Mail 2009.
Winterberry points to the popularity of digital media, recent tough times in the financial services sector, and rising postage and production costs as factors fueling the historic DM decline. Oh, and incidentally, its report predicts another
8 percent to 9 percent drop in DM spending for 2009.
Have we seen the zenith of print DM? Winterberry data crunchers seem to think so. Their report states, “Direct mail has seen its influence as a high-volume, mass-oriented response driver all but vanish.”
What do you think? Here’s my initial take: Print DM is purportedly a $50 billion industry, which means it’s an economic iceberg unlikely to melt overnight. However, the forces weighing against continued widespread use of print DM aren’t exactly shrinking away, either. If anything, use of digital channels, rising production costs, plus desire/pressure among marketers to operate in environmentally sustainable ways will put even more downward pressure on the use of DM.
Still, assuming it’s likely to be in the marketer’s toolkit for some time, how do we plan and execute DM as effectively and efficiently as possible?
In future posts, Touch Point City will occasionally look under the hood at print DM, to see if we can identify insights and best practices that will help make your future campaigns as productive as can be.
Meanwhile, please feel free to comment with any of your favorite cost-saving tips and success strategies.
Bar chart credit to eMarketer.