What is Direct Mail?

Incredibly, the very first direct mail marketing campaign can be traced back to an ancient artifact dating around 1000 B.C. This Egyptian papyrus advertisement scroll, which can be found in the British museum, offered gold to anyone who could locate the landowner’s slave, according to Central Mailing Services. This traditional mail marketing strategy is described as the process of directly sending information to your desired target audience. While the strategy has evolved over time, the basics and applications have remained the same.

Brief Overview

This marketing effort uses the mail service to deliver marketing messages to a specific audience. The main advantage of using advertisement mail is that the company can communicate one-on-one with their target audience. When using other strategies like television or Internet marketing, a business has much less control over how many people are reached, who receives the message and when it is delivered. As Titan List & Mailing Services, Inc. explains, “the most successful advertising campaigns not only offer a valuable product or service, but reach the target market most likely to respond to their advertisement.”

Types of Campaigns

It wasn’t until the advent of the printing press and U.S. Postal Service that advertisement mail became what it is today. Aaron Montgomery Ward launched what is considered the first modern-day direct mail marketing campaign in 1872 by mailing out one-page catalog ads. His peer, Richard Sears, followed his example and created the first Sears Catalog that many modern-day marketers still try to emulate, according to Ballatine.

There are different types of advertisement mail strategies including letters, postcards, coupons, flyers, newsletters and catalogs. Even in today’s Internet-focused world, advertisement mail is still valued by top-companies as a highly effective strategy. Incredibly, even the Internet’s most dominant company, Google, currently has several open direct mailing campaigns, according to TMR Direct.

Data Brokers

Direct marketing has recently evolved in large part due to data circulating on the Internet. The widespread use of social media, web-based services, smart devices and overall Internet of Things has given rise to data brokers who make a lucrative business collecting vast amounts of data that can be used in targeted advertisement campaigns. Information trading has been occurring for decades, but these technological advances have created a multi-billion dollar industry. Every “like” on Facebook is valuable data that can be bought, sold and traded among various companies without your direct knowledge or consent. Data brokers serve as middle-men that buy up data, create profiles and sell them to advertisers looking to market their services. Those looking to maximize the efficiency of targeted advertisement campaigns, like direct advertisement mail, greatly benefit from the use of these services. Tim Sparapani, an advocate for privacy rights, explains how retailers are learning that a secondary source of income is available in the data they collect about consumers. He furthers, “that data becomes much more valuable when it’s married up to the much more personal information that’s being volunteered on the Internet.”

All marketing and advertisement experts agree that the more a company knows about its targeted consumers the more efficiently they can advertise to them. Data brokers have made this strategy much easier by providing loads of relevant data about target populations. The direct mail strategy can be dated back thousands of years in time, yet it has evolved and remained so efficient that the most successful companies continue to utilize the valuable approach.