Direct mail isn’t dead. It’s not even putting its feet up and taking a well-earned rest. It has changed though and no doubt will continue to change.

The world has moved on and digital dominates. Indeed, you could fill a book with statistics that prove this or create a nifty infographic or two.

This is reflected in marketing spend with online channels receiving an ever increasing share. According to the IPA Bellwether report spending on internet marketing was revised higher than any other Bellwether category and to the sharpest degree for a year (a net balance of +14.7%).

So where does this leave traditional direct mail? The obvious conclusion would be that in this brave new world it’s past its ‘sell-by date’. While overall volumes have declined in recent years and are set to continue falling, direct mail is forecast by PWC to remain a significant marketing channel stabilising at around 10% of all advertising spend once recessionary factors have dissipated and online advertising has reached a point of saturation.

It’s also reassuring to hear that research repeatedly demonstrates that most consumers like receiving and respond positively to direct mail. Nearly three quarters (71%) are happy to receive mail from organisations they already buy from and 57% said that postal contact was appropriate for prospects. Whilst many react immediately to direct mail (79% compared to 45% for email) many retain the direct mail for future reference, a statistic we’ve seen reflected in our own clients’ post campaign research.

So where does direct mail fit in now?

Critically, in this digital age, it’s what consumers do as a consequence of receiving direct mail that counts. Over three quarters of consumers (77%) either search online or visit a brand’s website after receiving their mail piece which proves that when executed well direct mail can dramatically improve conversation rates within an omni-channel campaign.

Brands need to explore connected customer journeys with data at the heart of those strategies. Direct marketing that focuses on customer engagement will be critical for success if all campaign elements are drawn together seamlessly.

In real terms the volumes of direct mail we produce will be lower as our targeting becomes ever more refined. But it will always be an effective tool for building relationships and delivering relevant, personalised content to consumers.

We feel positive about the future of direct mail and its continued relevance because ultimately the future is less about digital marketing and more about marketing effectively in a digital world.