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Direct mail advertising was once among the most powerful marketing tools. Yes, millions of people decried what they called “junk mail” cluttering their postal boxes on any given day. The bottom line, however, was that mailed marketing pitches produced results.

Then came the internet. Even though it took years for anyone to figure out how to sell something using e-mail or any other digital tool, the advent of internet marketing stole the thunder from direct mail.

Younger-generation sellers who grew up in the digital age may consider direct mail a dinosaur, a relic of the past. But the fact is, direct mail never truly went away. If not as potent as it once was, it never stopped producing results.

All indications are that direct mail should be considered a viable and effective adjutant to a modern marketing campaign. The numbers don’t lie. The Data & Marketing Association reports that response rates to direct mail have increased by 43% over the past four-year period. In some cases, response rates to advertising and marketing material sent via the good old postal system increased by 190%.

Consider that direct mail has a median ROI of 29%. ROI stands for Return on Investment. By comparison, social media advertising is just one point ahead at 30% ROI. That may not seem like a significant difference, but the devil is in the details. The fact is, much of social media advertising delivers no results at all, while other campaigns are enormously effective. The bottom line is that direct mail is more reliable and predictable across the board in delivering a 29% return on investment.

Keep in mind that direct mail should not be looked at as a competitor to digital marketing or an either-or alternative. In the best of worlds, a marketer will have the budget to use them together and combine their power. The influence of direct mail can be enhanced if delivered in concert with a targeted digital marketing campaign. Direct mail can be a catalyst to enhance what you’re doing online.

An example: A Utah company sent out a mail piece to a customer list. The item carried a scannable code that recipients could use to visit the company’s online platform and get a discount. That’s the old direct mail tool working synergistically with a new online marketing technique.