We might be living in the digital age, but more and more data every day is showing that direct mail is alive and well. In fact, with a response rate that outperforms all digital channels combined by five to nine percent, it’s proving to be an important tool in any marketer’s toolbelt. Here’s are some critical insights about the medium from Sally Dickter, our SVP of Marketing, and one of our team of direct mail gurus.

What’s the #1 best reason for companies to use direct mail in today’s digital world?

 Sally: Companies should be utilizing direct mail to stand out, both in the customer’s mind and in the mailbox. Mail is a one-to-one tangible communication within a world of e-mail overload, spam, and virtual conversations, and that helps us cut through the marketing clutter.

Have you seen direct mail response rates out-perform digital marketing call to actions? And is there any particular major Franklin Madison direct mail win that comes to mind where a direct mail campaign outperformed our client’s (or even our own!) expectations?

 Sally: Direct mail response always exceeds digital engagement and enrollment in my experience. And integrating both mail and email marketing can create a synergy that exceeds the effectiveness of each media alone. By using both mediums, you give the consumer options on how they would like to respond.

In your experience, how does the engagement rate for millennials compare with other generations? Are millennials engaging at a high rate with direct mail?

Sally: It might be surprising, but Millennials tend to respond at the same rate as other generations. Meaning that if millennials are a certain percentage of customers who receive our direct mail offer, they will be a similar percentage of the response. They certainly should not be counted out as a direct-mail demographic.

Why do you think millennials have been proven to respond so positively to direct mail?

 Sally: Probably because they do not suffer from a leading cause of direct mail ineffectiveness: no mailbox clutter! And again, direct mail is a welcome contrast to the intangible world of digital and social media overload. It makes them feel more connected as a consumer.

Does direct mail improve consumers’ ability to distill or process the information they need to make a purchase decision? And how does it do that?

Sally: Good direct mail puts the customer in control. As a marketing tool, it allows them to skim content to find the areas of most interest, to take a clear and simple action, and to keep information at hand until the fulfillment arrives post-purchase. Clarity and simplicity create an informed buying decision and marketing success.

Are there certain types of direct mail that you have a seen a better response with? For example, certain colors, sizes, or products?

Sally: There are three characteristics of successful direct mail, particularly for financial institutions and/or services: simplify, simplify, and simplify. A business-like look with minimal color and components not only reduces cost, it increases sales! Oversized envelopes can fit this look, but the postage costs usually overwhelm the added response, and the response upside tends to tire quickly with repeated mailings of memorable oversize envelopes.

 Are there certain types of products that do well in the direct mail space in your experience?

Sally: First, the product must be able to generate enough revenue to make direct mail profitable, through size and/or frequency of purchase. Offers that give customers confidence to do-it-themselves, like guaranteed-issue insurance, are ideal for mail. Mail can also work by leading people to a phone call or website. This potentially generates qualified leads for more complex products.

 Are there any direct mail pitfalls that come to mind that you would advise a financial institution marketing professional to avoid?

Sally: Don’t complicate the offer. Find a focal benefit(s) and streamline the message. Give customer what they want, not what you want them to have, based on data and testing. Deliver on the customer’s need to know “what’s in it for me,” not what’s wonderful about the institution. Much more “you’s” then “we’s” in every piece.

What is the best tip you can give to a marketing professional at a financial institution who is considering embracing direct mail?

Sally: Leverage the rich customer data that financial institutions have to make the right offer, to the right customers, with the right frequency. With advanced modeling, you can turn all that big data into smaller data that defines best prospects and projects response. Then test, test, and test some more! Find an effective marketing strategy to hear and integrate the voice of the consumer through their responsiveness.