As online marketing continues to grow, direct mail is still a substantial part of the marketing realm, according to a study released this month by the Direct Marketing Association.
Traditional offline marketing, including direct mailers, was a $93.6 billion industry in 2012, according to the study by professors John Deighton of Harvard University and Peter Johnson of Columbia University.
Online marketing, which includes electronic ads, targeted emails and revenues from selling information to brokers, is about a $62 billion industry, the study says.
That many businesses still use direct mail to reach customers is not new to Kenneth Roseborough, owner of Money Mailer of Silver Spring. The company contracts with businesses such as Silver Spring restaurant Greek Islands Grill to help drive customers to the eatery through coupons and ads sent by U.S. mail.
“People get caught up in the digital age,” Roseborough said. “But they find that have to go back to paper. A lot of people want to see something in their hand like a coupon, and not just an electronic image on their smartphone or other device.”
Coupons are particularly effective as customers seek better value in leaner times, he said.
“Digital marketing has increased in recent years, but direct mail has not declined,” said Roseborough, 54, a longtime marketing executive who belongs to the American Marketing Society. “In fact, it has gotten stronger.”
Money Mailer has an Internet presence as well as in the paper mailers, he said. “We want to give customers the option of being able to go online and upload coupons if they want,” Roseborough said.
That practice is also happening at grocers such as Safeway, which gives customers the option of going online to attach electronic savings to their store club cards in a program called “Just for U.”
Customers also can get digital coupons through a mobile app. Safeway still offers paper coupons, as well.
The electronic advertising industry has come under fire recently as officials and others cite concerns over privacy in using targeted emails that pick up characteristics of online users through “cookies” — electronic tracking messages — and other methods.
New regulations that would stop the exchange of electronic data due to privacy and other concerns would affect $110 billion in revenue to the U.S. economy and 478,000 jobs, Deighton and Johnson said in their study.
“The biggest winners — innovation and small businesses — would also be the biggest losers if startups could no longer use data to .... raise ad-supported revenue and identify new and niche markets to serve,” they said.