Direct Mail, Marketing

Direct Mail, ROI and Justifying Your Marketing Spend

Written by Jason Groom
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Originally published
January 22 2015,
July 13 2020

Remember when we sent stuff out by snail mail, sat back and waited for the responses which, because we relied on reply paid envelopes and cards, often weren’t swift. And, sometimes, never came at all. Campaigns and tactics didn’t always generate leads or initiate responses. But we didn’t worry - we bravely soldiered on and, should our campaigns be questioned or the spend challenged, we wheeled out that stock “raising brand awareness and product visibility” justification. Oh the good old days. How we miss ‘em.

Well, maybe not SO much. Those days had their own challenges and the lack of automation did make tasks far more laborious. But while we now have more money in the budget and more channels to embrace, getting bang for our marketing buck has never been so important…or so measured.

Gone soft?
A recent article on CMO outlined what it called “15 Mind-Blowing Stats about Marketing ROI”. In fact, the stats were less about the ROI itself and rather more about just how many and how much marketers are struggling with the softer metrics of campaigns. For softer think, as examples, the ROI of a Facebook like or the number of Twitter followers a brand has.

What gets measured gets done
With 93% of CMOs saying that they are under more pressure to deliver measurable ROI, and 79% say proving the business impact of marketing will be even more important in 2015, it’s no wonder then that the more measurable activities seem to be taking precedence.

The “what gets measured gets done” refrain is an oft repeated one but for marketers it seems it’s more “what CAN get measured, gets done”. Those questioned overwhelmingly voted email as the best digital channel in terms of proving ROI and, guess what, more than half increased their spending on email in 2014 as email ROI was said to reach 2,500%. But if measurability is what you’re tasked with over success then we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the popularity and reliance on email continues to grow as it does.

2 billion can’t be wrong
The report went on to say that a whopping 81% of marketers would increase spending on digital, mobile, and social channels if they could better track ROI. With the global smartphone audience surpassing the 1 billion mark way back in 2012 and numbers continuing to steadily grow, every year we hear that this one will be the year of the mobile. There’s no doubt that marketers have the appetite to “do more with mobile” but perhaps that lack of measurability gives us insight into why this just isn’t happening as predicted.

Content – engagement and eyeballs
The number of marketers that say they are successfully tracking ROI on content hovers just above the 20% mark (23% in B2C and 21% in B2B) but more than half say measuring content effectiveness at all is a challenge and 15% don’t even bother trying. Push them to choose a form of content which delivers the best ROI and more than 50% opt for video. We know that from an SEO perspective Google loves video but perhaps it’s no coincidence that marketers feel more comfortable with a form of content marketing whose engagement figures are easier to quantify?

The chicken, or the egg…
Marketers are finding themselves in a catch-22. If you can’t measure it (and prove its worth) you don’t do it. But if you don’t do it, there’ll never be anything to measure! Getting to grips with channel attribution then has to be a priority while continuing to focus on the channels and tactics we can track in the meantime seems the practical solution.


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