This article originally appeared in the March/April issue of Mailing Systems Technology.

With so many digital marketing options available today — and all the bells and whistles that come with them — direct mail is losing the battle for marketers’ dollars. But does it have to be a battle? No — and it shouldn’t be!

We know that direct mail is the workhorse of the marketing world. It generates seven times the responses of all digital channels combined. SEVEN TIMES!

Yet business owners can’t resist the allure of digital advertising. It’s shiny and new, and it often costs less. Digital methods also offer real-time analytics that allow marketers to SEE how their campaigns are performing. So the reality is: In today’s world, businesses need to do both.

Even the United States Postal Service (and I can’t think of anyone who has a greater stake in the success of direct mail) sees the value of digital platforms. In fact, the USPS is incentivizing direct mailers to integrate their campaigns. I’ve got two exciting words for you:


I know I touched on this in my last column, but now that the promotions’ start dates are (or almost are) upon us, I thought I would take the opportunity to remind you again — this is not an opportunity you want to miss out on! This year, the Postal Service is offering up to five percent off postage for companies that incorporate online technology into their direct mail marketing.

To recap, here’s why the USPS wants you to integrate your direct mail: Marketers who combine on- and offline marketing achieve significantly better results — as much as an 81% increase in new customers! And when campaigns perform better, clients reorder more often. Everybody wins: businesses, marketers, mail houses, and the USPS!

But let me back up. What do I mean when I say that on- and offline-integrated campaigns perform better? “Online marketing” encompasses a lot of different formats — email, pay per click, banner ads, etc. I’m talking a very specific, VERY effective kind of online marketing called retargeting.

You know when you’re shopping online but, for whatever reason, you don’t buy?

For example, say you find a pair of shoes you like and you check out all the details on them, but don’t pull the trigger ¾ you leave the page without making the purchase ¾ and then you start seeing ads for those exact shoes all over the internet? That’s retargeting! (It’s also known as remarketing or Google follow-up advertising.)

Why is it so effective? Research shows that 80% of sales take place on the fifth contact or later. This means that follow-up is essential to any successful marketing endeavor. But many small business owners lack the resources to mail with the frequency that is needed to create the results they want.

With a remarketing campaign, visitors to your client’s website are “cookied” with an unobtrusive piece of coding that tells Google to start showing that person your client’s follow-up ads. That prospect then sees the ad all over the internet, again and again, reminding them of their initial interest until they become customers!

And it works:

  • Leads who are shown Google follow-up ads are 70% more likely to convert
  • Retargeting can boost response up to 400%

Now, about those postage discounts; how do they work with online advertising? It’s simple. The USPS is offering two separate discounts for direct mailers who add this technology to their campaigns:

  • The Emerging and Advanced Technology promotion offers two percent off postage for First-Class mail with no quantity restrictions and runs from March 1 through August 31, 2017.
  • The Direct Mail Starter program gives five percent off postage (up to 10,000 pieces) to businesses and nonprofits who are not currently using direct mail. It is effective from May 1 through July 31, 2017.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to take the leap and implement these incentives in your mail operations!