Direct Mail Still Stars in Multichannel Subscription Campaigns

As multichannel publishing evolves, traditional direct mail, long a staple of subscription acquisition campaigns, has evolved as well and retains a key role in audience building. Because AccuList USA supports multichannel subscription campaigns for clients’  business and consumer publications, as well as catalogs, a recent Target Marketing magazine article by Paul Bobnak, director of Who’s Mailing What!, caught our eye. The article provided an interesting example of how an established print publication brand successfully used targeted direct mail to promote multiplatform content and expand reach to a younger, digital-first audience.

Leveraging a Tightly Targeted Market

Bobnak shares how The Economist, one of the world’s most respected magazines and a “big user of direct mail,” created a new mail piece to promote its brand to an academic target market of college professors–and secondarily their students. The piece used a recent issue’s eye-catching magazine cover as the non-address side of the outer portion of a brochure mailer, taking advantage of the visual, tactile and guaranteed-mailbox-delivery of direct mail. There were additional cover examples inside–up to 25 on its first page alone–to reinforce the value of its invitation to academics, at a “special academic rate,” to join “one million leaders” in keeping abreast of significant international political, business, finance, scientific and technical news and trends. Plus, the professors were encouraged to pass along the informational benefits of the magazine to their students, who could subscribe at a special individual rate or via a group subscription provided by the teacher.

Using Print to Push Digital Benefits

Recognizing that many academics, especially younger students, are digital-first today, a full page of the brochure highlighted a digital package. That package included options such as a weekly digital or audio edition sent to tablet or smartphone, and a “Daily Espresso” of top stories shot to the subscriber’s device. So while the promotion was delivered via printed direct mail, the stress was on desirable content delivery–regardless of platform.

Bobnak’s takeaway: “For long-standing brands to adapt to a digital age, it’s necessary to appeal to audiences in a variety of channels.”

To see the actual mail example, go to