Are Social And Direct Good Friends?



There isn’t a lot of research on how direct mail and social media work together. So I am happy to see an infographic based on some work from Market Reach – an arm of UK’s Royal Mail (equivalent to our Canada Post or USPS).

There are 3 main points highlighted, many of which I have come across in where direct mail is compared to other media – mass or email for example. The net takeaway here is that direct mail still works AND it works very well with social media.

1. Social Network Users Respond To Direct Mail

Fully 45% of social network users have done ‘something’ as a result of a direct mail piece. Whereas direct marketers hang their hat on the channel’s measurability, it’s also the con of DM’s existence (because you can measure it, you only take credit for that observable outcome). Mass marketers on the other hand, will often point to their work as the driver of (any!) sales lift even though it can be hard to accurately measure a mass campaign’s sales impact. This research shows that response rate is only one part of the direct mail results story. Specifically:

  • 45% did something
  • 7%  asked for something
  • 31% bought something

2. Direct Mail Is An Effective Way to Reach Someone Who Uses Social Networks

One of direct mail’s core strengths has always been reach. For all intents and purposes, in the industrialized world, direct mail can reach virtually every citizen in a country given there is a mailing address for almost every home, farm and business. No other channel can do that. TV used to come close but those days are long gone. Newspaper and magazine readership declines year after year and of course anything online is specialized and fragmented.   

What’s of note with this second point is the finding that almost 1 in 3 (29%) of consumers who have used social media in the past year are likely to be heavy users of direct mail more than they are of other channels. Omnichannel marketers can say I told you so.

 3. Attitude Towards Direct Mail – It’s Good!

Perhaps surprisingly to some, 49% percent of social network users still prefer getting paper bills and 81% like getting special offers or coupons in the mail. So paper and sending something of interest through the mail even to ‘social-ites’ is alive and well.

At Canada Post we have found similar results when we ask Canadians what channel they prefer to receive advertising from companies – direct mail is still #1.



If you happen to come across any other work on these two areas working together – direct mail and social media – please pass it along. Thanks.

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