Business development 23 August 2016

Why direct mail is once again becoming useful for small business

Direct mail offers a higher open rate and a higher response rate than email
Direct mail offers a higher open rate and a higher response rate than email

Once, junk mail was the bane of everyone’s life. Now, it’s overshadowed by its digital cousin. In an era of email overload, a good direct mail campaign can ensure your small business stands out.

Junk Mail vs Junk Email

In 2005, the Royal Mail estimated that there were 19.7bn letters sent.  Of those, 6.17bn were ‘direct mail’ – often classed as junk mail.

By 2012, this had fallen to 13.8bn total letters, of which 4.4bn were direct mail. Forecasts for the future see total letters dropping even further. By 2023, 8.3bn total letters have been forecasted, of which 3.1bn will be direct mail.

As these are just total volumes, the question remains: What does this mean to businesses? In 2013, the City of London estimated that the average address received 650 pieces of junk mail each year. Alarmingly, this is 4.4 per cent of the UK’s annual consumption of paper and cardboard.

The era of email overload

However, physically unwanted mail is far less common than email wastage. We get an average of two items of ‘junk’ mail each day, but receive an average of 121 emails per day.

There are around 205bn emails sent every day in 2016, with spam emails accounting for 56.52 per cent. That means that over 115,866,000,000 spam emails are sent per day. Globally, that means there’s enough spam email to send 16 emails to every single person on the planet, every single day.

Still think direct mail is the problem? 

According to the CMO Council, 44 per cent of people do not open direct mail. This means that 56 per cent do. Compared to emails, which have an average open rate of 22.87 per cent, direct mail is doubly as effective at getting a message in front of an audience.

Not only that, but figures from 2012 reveal that the response rate for direct mail was 3.4 per cent – compared to just 0.12 per cent for email. To put this simply: more people read and respond to direct mail than they do to emails.

Email vs letters – The contrast

It’s no surprise when you take into account the sheer volume of emails versus letters. There are around 74 trillion emails sent per year. In the UK, there are just 13.8bn total letters sent each year, which is 37,808,219 letters in total per day – of which 12,098,630 are direct mail.

Does 12,098,630 direct mail letters per day sound like a lot? That number is just 0.01 per cent of the amount of spam emails sent each and every day around the globe.

The verdict

With the amount of physical email sent falling each and every year, direct mail is once again becoming useful.

Offering a higher open rate and a higher response rate than email, a good direct mail campaign can put your business in front of an audience and make it stand out. Don’t contribute to email overload.

Martyn Dallway is director at Direct Letterbox Marketing

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