Negative myths about direct mail seem to grow in proportion to the positive buzz about newer channels like online advertising and social media. It’s time to clear the air before marketers start to slight one of their most effective direct marketing tools. Here are 20 myths about direct mail, and the realities revealed by recent research and actual marketing results:

Google relies on digital media to attract new advertisers.

According to www.directmailman.com, Google uses direct mail to attract new clients and generate revenue. Google is also one of the largest direct mailers globally.http://www.thedirectmailman.com/direct_mail_answers_for_p/2011/08/how-google-uses-direct-mail-marketing-to-grow-its-business.html

Consumers prefer e-mail over direct mail.

According to a recent Epsilon study, “Consumers use and trust certain communications channels more than others.” At least one detail will be a surprise to a number of marketers: 50% of U.S. consumers prefer direct mail to e-mail. http://ernanroman.blogspot.com/2012/04/value-of-direct-mail.html

Advertising mail volume is going down.

The USPS reported in January that standard mail experienced a 4.0% increase in volume. http://www.btobonline.com/article/20130304/DIRECT0202/303049947/usps-amid-some-

E-mail works better than direct mail.

According to an Advertising Age article, the Direct Marketing Association reports that “direct mail is 10 to 30 times more effective than e-mail.” In fact, direct mail response rates have been relatively stable since 2010. Additionally, when comparing response rates in the same study, 34 out of 1,000 customers responded to direct mail, while just one out of 1,000 customers responded to e-mail. http://adage.com/article/media/dma-snail-mail-phone-beat-digital-response-rates/235364/

Catalogs and retailers have increased their spending on online advertising.

Paid search spending by catalog and call center retailers in the 2013 Internet Retailer Top 500 guide dipped in 2012. http://www.internetretailer.com/2013/05/07/catalogers-cut-back-paid-search-spending-2012

Direct mail doesn’t work for performing arts organizations.

Everyman Theatre Company incorporated data-driven strategies to optimize its direct mail marketing. Total ROI after one campaign? 552%. http://www.dmnews.com/data-driven-marketing-gets-dramatics-results/article/290791/

Direct mail should not be considered for multi-channel campaigns.

Marketing campaigns that use a multi-channel approach are more effective at reaching audiences and increasing sales, according to ExactTarget’s 2012 channel preference survey. Of the common marketing channels, direct mail has certain advantages over the rest that can make it the most important channel in your marketing mix. http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/article/5-ways-direct-mail-shines-multichannel-

Small businesses rely on digital marketing for attracting new customers.

Digital marketing is all the rage among major corporations these days but not so much among small businesses, according to new research by The Boston Consulting Group. Small businesses still rely mainly on newspaper circulars and direct mail to drive customers into their stores. http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/small-businesses-are-slow-digital-party-148029

Direct mail spending should be cut as the economy slows down.

Looking to cut costs amid the recession, Alicia Settle initially thought it would be a good idea to eliminate her company’s annual direct mailing. Spending about $20,000 on the personally signed letters, which offered customers a discount on early orders, seemed indulgent for Per Annum Inc., which sells city diaries, albums and planners in the struggling corporate gift market. But after swapping snail mail for e-mail last year, Settle saw a 25% drop in early orders compared with the same period the previous year. “We realized we had made a huge mistake,” says Settle, president of the New York firm. http://elempresario.mx/wsj/snail-mail-still-effective

Teenagers and young adults do not respond to direct mail.

ICOM surveyed over 2,500 U.S. households and 2,200 Canadian households, specifically consumers in the 18-34-year-old demographic. The study found that these consumers overwhelmingly prefer — by two to three times — to learn about marketing offers via postal mail and newspapers rather than online sources such as social media sites.http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/article/direct-mail-becoming-more-relevant-than-email-young-adults-says-epsilon-survey/1

Successful online marketing campaigns have no connection with direct mail.

“Mail is still the best way to drive prospects to a call to action to websites, micro-sites, YouTube and social media outlets,” says Grant Johnson, founder of Johnson Direct LLC. “We have seen a huge increase in demand from firms trying to use direct mail more effectively to drive results. http://chiefmarketer.com/direct/print/411-mail-special-reportlar4/

Gen X and Gen Y favor social media over direct mail.

A channel-use survey from Pitney Bowes uncovered a channel preference that was unexpected: Marketers under 35 are also more likely than other age groups to use direct mail in their marketing mix. http://chiefmarketer.com/Channels/directmail/younger-marketer-multichannel-pitney-0610rhl3/

Online media is more engaging than direct mail.

New media marketers may be missing sales opportunities by ignoring old media tactics, says King Fish Media CMO Gordon Plutsky. By reaching a consumer through the mailbox, a marketer creates a different type of conversation. It’s more thoughtful. It provides recipients with a designed mail piece for them to look at and make a more considered purchase.http://chiefmarketer.com/Channels/directmail/direct-mail-consumers-longer-qa-0227rhl3/?imw=Y#ixzz1nnZN2ObR

Social media is more memorable than direct mail, particularly for younger audiences.

When comparing direct mail to online marketing, Millward Brown, a leading global research agency, revealed that “physical media – AKA direct mail – left a ‘deeper footprint’ in the brain.” In other words, media that consumers can touch and feel resonated and touched more emotions than those of the digital variety. And those consumers that are affected by “physical media” are not just the older demo, as many marketers believe. http://www.forbes.com/sites/marketshare/2012/03/11/direct-mail-alive-and-kicking/

Commercial direct mail should not be in-home the election week.

According to catalog consultant Stephen R. Lett in an article entitled “Planning Holiday Mailing Patterns in an Election Year,” it is not necessarily a disadvantage to be in-home during election week. Since many other mailers are avoiding that week, there should be less competition in the mailbox. http://demo.chiefmarketer.com/direct-marketing/planning-holiday-mail-patterns-election-year

Most marketers are not optimistic about the future of direct mail.

Despite mixed signals in the economy, more than 72% of marketers and marketing suppliers believe direct and digital marketing are well positioned for future growth, according to a report from the Direct Marketing Association.

President Obama and his challenger Romney relied on social media to reach voters in 2012.

President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney still spent massive sums on a more traditional form of communication: snail mail. Mailings were used to attack opponents, make policy promises, solicit donations and help supporters register to vote. http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/aggregatedcontent/direct-mail-still-force-campaigns?

No one reads catalogs.

Two out of three consumers who receive a catalog in the mail will peruse it, according to study by FGI Research commissioned by the American Catalog Mailers Association.http://multichannelmerchant.com/catalog/acma-catalog-survey-1119tpp1/

Direct mail does not garner trust.

Four in 10 consumers favor direct mail as the conduit for privacy-sensitive information from health and insurance companies, says an Epsilon survey. http://www.dmnews.com/in-mail-we-trust/article/271145/

Catalog marketing is on the decline.

Catalogs appear to be enjoying a resurgence as brands ranging from J Crew to Restoration Hardware to Victoria’s Secret rely on them to drum up business and market their brands. http://bottomline.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/10/12/14397619-catalogs-making-a-comeback-among

When it comes to auto sales, digital marketing is superior to direct mail.

According to Caitlin Ryan, executive creative director at Proximity London, “Direct mail works incredibly well in the automotive space; we do a lot of email and CRM for VW as well, but direct mail is still what people want because it provides a tactile experience.” http://www.dmnews.com/vws-direct-mail-campaign-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts/article/287820/#

Parting Thoughts to Ponder

For those of you who are still in denial about the long-term viability of direct mail, here is another cold hard fact about offline marketing, aka “Advertising Mail.” According to the Winterberry Group, the direct mail marketing spend held steady at $45.2 billion between 2011 and 2012. It stood at $43.8 billion in 2009.

Back in the 1990s, our wired colleagues had the chutzpah to predict the demise of direct mail along with list brokers like AccuList USA®. So much for wishful thinking. However, their aspirations led to the long awaited and frenzied multi-channel world we are experiencing today “up close and personal.”

In 2013, direct mail is still delivering measurable positive results for B2C and B2B mailers, and will continue to generate millions of new customers and loyal donors in the years to come, whether it is used to incite action offline or as an integral component of a multi-channel strategy.

There’s less mailbox clutter than ever…hint, hint.

By the way, direct mail is getting chipped. For digitally oriented direct marketers, biometrics just took on a whole new meaning. A wise person once said, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Good luck with your Fall 2013 campaigns. The domestic economy should pick up some steam by end of the third quarter.