Industry attitudes: Direct Mail

The direct mail industry is optimistic about the future despite the recession, as Marketing Week research reveals.


Angus Morrison,

Director of Royal Mail’s MMC (Mail Media Centre)

Despite the recession, postal disputes and the growing trend to all things digital, it seems that Marketing Week’s readers are still relatively upbeat about direct mail and believe that their board realises the value of DM as an integral part of their marketing mix.

We’ve also seen positivity here at the Mail Media Centre, with recent visitors including BSkyB, Save the Children and Lego. We’re finding that weekly training sessions and masterclasses are over-subscribed and brands are continually requesting help such as tracking the DM spend of the competitors, reviewing the latest creatives and profiling target audiences.

The Campaign Effectiveness study by Quadrangle, soon to be published by the MMC, also gives an equally positive picture for mail.

  • Mail (addressed DM) is perceived as the most effective medium for delivering a strong return on investment (52% say very effective).
  • Apart from new media, addressed DM is also seen as the quickest and easiest medium for implementation of campaigns (29% say very quick) which goes against orthodox assumptions.
  • Mail is a key part of companies’ media mix – almost half see it as very important.
  • Response rates are good for DM and have significantly improved since 2007.

Mail remains an important part of the media mix, thanks to increasing response rates and ROI, improved by impactful creative, good branding and accurate targeting. It’s good to see that – most importantly – it continues to be on the radar for four fifths of advertisers.

About this survey

  • This research was conducted during October 2009 among readers of Marketing Week magazine and users of
  • 16% of respondents work for organisations employing more than 5,000 people, while 25% are employed by businesses with less than 50 staff.
  • Respondents were drawn from all types of organisations, with 21% from financial brands, 9% from not-for-profit bodies and 7% from consumer goods companies.
  • 42% of respondents are marketing managers, 10% are marketing directors and 9% are direct marketing managers.
  • All results have been rounded up or down to the nearest full percentage point. Not all tables add up to 100 as there may be more than one answer given.

Key findings

56%of marketers believe that direct mail carries weight with the board and top executives at their organisation; 30% of respondents believe that direct marketing is not taken seriously.

Just 5% think the economic climate has wreaked a “very bad” effect on the industry, while 7% think that it has not been affected at all.

45%of marketers use interactive direct marketing methods, 33% use physical direct mail and 22% use both together.

42% consider a 5-10% DM response rate to be acceptable to their business, 34% are satisfied with less than 5% and 2% demand an over 30% response rate.

In practice, just 22% see a 5-10% response rate, while 52% of respondents see less than 5% response rate to their direct mail.

Most marketers (38%) use DM as a “call to action”, 24% use it for new offers or discounts and 16% use it for general brand building duties.

61% think the Direct Marketing Association should be in charge of regulating DM, 22% favour government regulation and 9% think brands should self-regulate.



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