Survey: Direct Mail is Coming Back

According to a study by marketing services firm, Epsilon, 50% of U.S. consumers prefer direct mail to email. Wow – that’s a surprise!

And, are you ready for this… the study also found that one-quarter of all U.S. consumers said they found direct mail to be “more trustworthy” than email. Hmm –  was wondering if that million dollar check from Nigeria was going to be any good!

The research clearly shows that despite direct mail’s reputation for being “old school” and a bit expensive, it is the top choice of U.S. and Canadian consumers for the receipt of brand communications. And that’s in virtually every category, ranging from health to household products, to household services, insurance and financial services, including credit card offers. The preference for direct mail also extends to the 18-34 year old demographic. Now that really is a surprise. Now, with the economy improvements during 2014 and 2015, the trend continues.

From Epsilon’s website …

Key findings from the study include:

  • 36% of U.S. consumers and 40% of Canadians said direct mail is the preferred channel to receive financial services information;
  • 26% of U.S. consumers and 30% of Canadians said direct mail is more trustworthy than email;
  • 50% of U.S. consumers and 48% of Canadians said they pay more attention to postal mail than email;
  • 60% of U.S. consumers and 64% of Canadians said they enjoy checking the mailbox for postal mail, highlighting an emotional connection;
  • 30% of U.S. consumers said they’re receiving more mail that interests them compared to a year ago, and just 50% (down from 63% in 2010) said more information is sent to them in the mail — indicating marketers are improving targeting efforts;
  • The perception that reading email is faster declined among U.S. email account holders to 45% in 2011 (from 47% in 2010), suggesting clogged inboxes are draining time.


“Consumers use and trust certain communications channels more than others. This means that marketers need to understand which channels resonate most at various points in the consumer purchase cycle and incorporate a cross-channel strategy that leverages data and technology to communicate on a one-to-one basis,” said Warren Storey.

“Our study suggests that brands should use a variety of mediums to build relationships, starting with trusted channels like direct mail, then layering the message to re-enforce it through other channels.”


The 2011 Channel Preference Study also found:

  • 37% of U.S. consumers and 29% of Canadians use TV daily to get consumer product information, down from 43% and 35% respectively in 2010;
  • The least trustworthy channels are social media and blogs, achieving only 6% trust among U.S. consumers and 5% among Canadians;
  • The number of U.S. respondents who said internet use “is more anonymous” declined to 8% in 2011 from 11% in 2010;
  • Personally addressed mail is greatly preferred to unaddressed, with numbers in the insurance category showing a 31% to 5% gap;
  • 34% of U.S. consumers who prefer email over mail cited “saving on paper” as the main reason, up strongly from 21% in 2010;
  • In 2011, 39% of U.S. consumers claimed awareness of group deal web sites, lagging behind the 53% awareness level among Canadian counterparts.


“The key learning from this study is that marketers should recognize consumer preferences and establish a trustworthy relationship across a variety of channels,” said Storey. “Consumers appreciate brands that pay attention to their interests and stated preferences.”

Epsilon Targeting has now completed three surveys on the topic of consumer channel preference to generate trending data. The August 2011 research was preceded by an initial study in February 2008 as well as a survey in February 2010.

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