24 May 2012
Direct Mail still 'key component' of marketing campaigns: Interquest
TORONTO—Direct mail is making a comeback, the audience heard at the 2012 Toronto Digital Printing Forum presented by Interquest on Thursday at Ryerson University's Heidelberg School of Graphic Communications Management.

However, direct mail's value is apparently slipping in the opinions of marketing leaders, revealed a survey presented by Interquest.

Toby Cobrin, director of Interquest, gives a market update

Toby Cobrin, director of Interquest, said while direct mail is on an upswing from the 2009 financial downturn, a survey by MarketingSherpa last year revealed only 23 percent of chief marketing officers see it as an important lead generator (social media ranked near the top of most important tactics).

But direct mail is still the "key component" of a multi-channel marketing campaign, with cross-media campaigns on the rise, she added.

Kelly-Jo Wellings, general manager for partner development and lettermail sales at Canada Post, pointed out the most popular media for promotional messages in Canada is direct mail at 36 percent, ahead of email at 14 percent. That being said, she added that 87 percent of Canadians will read mail personally addressed to them.

Kelly-Jo Wellings of Canada Post

While Canada Post is bulking up its electronic epost service, "we're very committed to the physical side of our business," said Wellings, noting the Crown corporation invested $2.1 billion to modernize letter-sorting equipment and delivery processes. Growth for Canada Post will come from loyalty cards, evidence mail (e.g.. driver's licenses) and prescriptions by mail, she added.

Wellings also dove into the subject of transactional mail, saying her company expects it to decline, but gradually. On a related note, Canada Post reported its first financial loss in 17 years in 2011, with transactional mail volume dropping 4.6 percent last year.

In the U.S., transactional mail volume is dropping significantly in recent years, said Gilles Biscos, Interquest president. Numbers he presented show that while there were 42.7 billion pieces of transactional mail in 2006, that number dropped to 39.2 billion by 2009 and 35.9 billion in 2010.

Gilles Biscos, president of Interquest

Biscos said that about 10 to 12 percent of consumers only look at online bills and statements, while printed bills still offer easy record keeping, detailed information that's easier to read, and safeguards against computer failure. "The bulk is still print for bills," he said.

But he illustrated through a graph that 60 percent of North American print provider respondents have experienced some impact from electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) in 2011, compared to only 25 percent in 2009.

Apparently transaction mail printers are finding other revenue streams. "We've seen transactional printers now printing books," said Biscos.
— Jeff Hayward
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