How Direct Mail Is Increasing ROI in A Digital Age

By Thought Leaders Archives
Cover image for  article: How Direct Mail Is Increasing ROI in A Digital Age

In an era dominated by digital marketing, where emails flood inboxes and social media feeds are saturated with promotional content, businesses are rediscovering the power of a more traditional marketing approach – direct mail. According to IPA Touchpoints, 35% of consumers have made a purchase, a payment, or a donation in the past year as a result of receiving direct mail.

David Beasley, director at Washington Direct Mail said: “People may think that physical mail has come to an end, yet the facts are showcasing the opposite. Direct mail services are a highly effective tool for increasing Return on Investment (ROI), especially when included in an elaborate marketing mix of digital and physical strategies. It has a generous appeal amongst the younger generations fascinated with receiving tangible mail and are driving the trend forward.”

Contrary to the belief that the age of physical mail has come to an end, direct mail is experiencing a resurgence as a highly effective strategy for increasing Return on Investment (ROI).

Old But Gold

Direct mail might be one of the oldest forms of marketing, but it has found its crowd amongst the nostalgia-led Gen Zs. Along with other ‘remnants’ of the past, such as vinyl players, typewriters, and polaroids, physical mail is sitting on top of the list.

This is a great tactic for marketers to incorporate, as getting a hold of the physical and tangible in an increasingly digital world can leave a lasting impression on the recipient. WARC’s research shows that 70% of consumers feel valued by mail senders due to the trust and authenticity built through receiving mail at home.

Direct mail creates a sensory experience and helps form an emotional connection with the message and the brand, thus increasing engagement. In fact, according to JICMAIL’s study, 77% of direct mail was interacted with in the UK during Q4 2022. This means it was either read, looked or glanced at, and 65% of it was opened, while 46% was retained at home.

Beasley, said: “To add extra traction to direct mail’s powerful engagement effect, marketers can incorporate personalisation. Through targeted lists generated with the help of big data, they can tailor their message to specific audiences while addressing them personally and increasing the brand engagement effect.”

With direct mail being considered novel and sparking excitement in those eager to search through their mailbox to see what’s inside, it has another advantage to emails. According to Statista, 347.3 billion emails are sent and received per day worldwide as of 2023. Email fatigue is a common symptom of overflowing inboxes, and it’s no surprise that 79% of consumers ignore or delete marketing emails half of the time or more, even from brands they love. Often, they would unsubscribe, completely ignore emails, or use a secondary email account they rarely check, thus significantly decreasing open and engagement rates.

Capitalising on Attention

Direct mail, on the other hand, boasts off with great engagement. In fact, it drives the most engagement out of all the communication channels, a whopping 95%, according to Royal Mail Marketreach.

A factor that largely contributes to direct mail’s high engagement rate is its attention-grabbing qualities. Attention is the most common soft metric used in campaigns that lead with direct marketing.

JICMAIL’s Attention study shows that the average piece of direct mail is looked at for 108 seconds over a month, making it more attention-efficient than many other media channels. If the piece is paired with a voucher or a small gift, it becomes even more commercially effective, generating a large amount of digital attention for brands’ owned channels. It is estimated that recipients spend an average of five minutes per session on advertisers-owned channels prompted by a mail item.

Using a methodology reviewed by PwC, the JICMAIL’s survey shows that it costs just £0.11 to generate a minute of consumer attention with Direct Mail. This makes mail more attention-efficient than social display, digital display and TV advertising.

Digital Integration

Direct mail can increase revenue and drive ROI, especially when integrated within the media mix.

WARC’s study shows that a third of campaigns using direct mail within a fusion of channels see an increase in revenue, and 35% experience an increase in ROI, compared to 23% for the average UK marketing campaign retrospectively.

The fusion of the physical with digital marketing, also called ‘phygital’ marketing, takes a liking among the younger generation, with 42% of Gen Z searching for a brand online after receiving a piece of direct mail and 84% scanning a QR code from mail to continue their brand interaction online.

Beasley, said: “Given the success of direct mail mixed with digital strategies, marketers are looking at ways to elevate phygital marketing with the use of technology and a range of tools. For example, brands now incorporate smells and sounds into direct mail to evoke the five senses. A travel company may use sunscreen-scented ink in its travel brochure to excite recipients about a sunny destination or a QR code that leads to a landing page and entices the consumers even more with its elaborate content.”


Direct mail is a suitable approach for all industries, with a host of benefits for increasing ROI and attracting and retaining loyal customers. Its tangible nature with a nostalgic feel appeals to all generations, while its attention-grabbing qualities work to increase engagement. When integrated with digital channels, direct mail becomes a powerful marketing mix strategy that can increase ROI significantly.

This article was written by Rachel Gray, Media Admin, producing content for a wide range of industries.

Posted at MediaVillage through the Thought Leadership self-publishing platform.

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