If you think direct mail is a thing of the past, it’s time to think again.
Think of it this way. Direct mail volume in the nonprofit space has fallen by about 2% each year since 2015, partially thanks to the rise of email and digital ad campaigns. Yet some studies show that response rates to direct mail campaigns are up to 10x better than their digital counterparts.
It’s hard to say for sure whether these two things are directly related, but it’s hard to argue it. Why though?
We’re flooded with emails, digital banner ads and social media ads every day—our tolerance for online ads is likely reaching a plateau. Direct mail on the other hand is a tangible, personal thing that a reader can hold in their hands and experience. You can’t delete a letter with a tap on your smart phone. You can’t absentmindedly scroll past a postcard.
Since direct mail volume has dropped in the last four years, it now has the scarcity effect in its corner. Since it’s far less common these days, it feels more special and rare.
To boot, one recent report found that good direct mail campaigns can achieve an eye-popping ROI of nearly 30%.
So how can your nonprofit use direct mail to its advantage?
A successful direct mail campaign starts with creating some form of value for the recipient. Sending a small gift to a donor or volunteer really makes them feel like their contribution was appreciated. But the gift doesn’t even have to be a monetary gift or commemorative gold watch. Custom thank you cards or small branded gifts like notepads are actually useful and are always appreciated. The best part? They’re extremely cost-effective.
Depending on the size of your organization, segmenting your donor/volunteer lists is one of the smartest things any nonprofit can do. Segmenting lists helps you make mail feel more personal, and that’s always key.
Why? You probably wouldn’t send the same thank you card to a small one-time donor that you would send to someone who has volunteered for you every weekend for 10 years.
Finally, make your direct mail unique to maximize its effectiveness. Physical mail is unique in its tangibility, but don’t stop there. Get creative with unusual envelope sizes or dimensional specialty print pieces with dynamic folds and pop-outs. It’s an investment, but it’s definitely worth it.
Mail campaigns with the best ROI are the ones that are irresistibly engaging. Give people something personalized and interactive that they want to hang onto, and you’re sure to see great returns. It’s still one of the best ways to reach your target and leave a lasting impression.