Direct Mail in 2020: Combining Print with Digital

Now that we’ve officially arrived in 2020, we think it’s finally time to put to rest the idea that ‘print is dead’.

For years we heard that electronic media will make services like direct mail obsolete. That didn’t happen.

In fact, print is as vibrant as ever, and direct mail in particular, is making an LL Cool J-style comeback (that is to say, we shouldn’t call it comeback, direct mail’s been here for years).

With digital saturating virtually every aspect of our lives, what’s old is new again, and direct mail is a breath of fresh air in a congested advertising industry. Marketers have once again fallen in love with direct mail’s tangible, measureable attributes, as well as its tactile component, giving it a home in any omnichannel marketing strategy.

The tactile component is key, as that’s been lost in today’s marketing campaigns. But neither direct mail nor digital media are sufficient on their own these days. As Jessica Eng, VP of marketing for Alliance Franchise Brands Marketing & Print Div. explains, the best marketing results are seen when brands wisely combine the best of both print and digital into a cohesive campaign.

“We are seeing the pendulum swing back to print and direct mail as integral parts of a multichannel campaign versus an all-digital strategy that gets attention,” Eng says in an interview with Printing Impressions.

“While there’s no silver bullet to direct marketing, neuroscience studies show that it’s easier for your brain to process information, recall it, and take action when it is presented in a print format such as direct mail.”

You say you want an evolution

This isn’t to say direct mail is the same as it’s always been. Digital has driven the evolution of direct mail, especially when it comes to personalization, one of the key buzzwords in today’s marketing industries.

“Personalization is more important than ever before, including with direct mail,” explains Maureen Powers, president, Direct Marketing Group, at Chicago-based RR Donnelley, in an interview with Printing Impressions.

“We are using the direct mail channel to drive the customer experience through communications such as coupons and personalized offers. We’re also changing how we help our clients message their clients based on individual customer preferences and their point in the customer journey. The trend we are certainly seeing is innovation around 1:1 marketing.”

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Thanks to digital, print campaigns can be more effective and cost-efficient than ever before. Consider how relevance and timeliness were more or less impossible with direct mail years ago; now, we can use audience selection and segmentation to target particular consumers, at particular times, at particular points of the customer journey.

Intelligent use of the data at hand, combined with the flexibility digital print production offers, marketers are seamlessly integrating tactile marketing into their omnichannel campaigns. Indeed, the direct mail industry is the missing piece to the marketing puzzle – there’s no solution more efficient that meets the demand for tactile, personalized messaging.

So, let’s make 2020 the year that the adage ‘print is dead’, dies. With personalization and avant-garde technologies like inkjet printing, direct mail will continue to evolve and thrive in marketing. If your business takes advantage of both print and digital early on, you’ll be well positioned for successful campaigns in 2020 and the future.


Need direct mail services? We’ve got ‘em. Digital marketing expertise? We’ve got that too. Visit your local Print Three location and we’ll help you design an effective omnichannel marketing strategy for your small- or medium-sized business.