Combating “Unsubscribes” with Direct Mail

By | October 28, 2014

I just read a fantastic case study from Data Services Inc. that reinforces the value of direct mail in a world going increasingly electronic. Direct mail goes (and succeeds) in places email cannot. That includes the world of unsubscribes.

Belgium-based Outlet-Avenue, an online overstock retailer targeting younger, fashion-conscious consumers, was finding that it was losing previously loyal members of its exclusive email club. Was it ennui? Over-full email boxes? Traditional short loyalty span among this group? Regardless, 45% of its email list had gone dormant.

The challenge with reactivating unsubscribes is legal. Once unsubscribed, the marketer cannot email them again. However, Outlet-Avenue had mailing addresses for these former subscribers. It sent an inexpensive postcard personalized to the unsubscriber with a welcome message, “We miss you!” and offering a discount on their next purchase.

The company attributed an increase in online orders of 4% to the postcard and calculated an ROI of 2.4 to 1.

In addition, after-campaign research found the following:

  • 62% recall rate
  • 59% read rate
  • 84% message retention rate
  • 64% of recipients had or intended to resubscribe to the program

The message for marketers: “In some cases, those ‘chronic non-responders’ are the result of the medium of communication and not due to a lack of affinity to your products/services.”

Well done, DSI!



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4 thoughts on “Combating “Unsubscribes” with Direct Mail

  1. Mike Porter

    A great example of leveraging the strength of the channel. The absence of spam regulations, filters, and overloaded inboxes makes mail a perfect choice to reconnect with customers – even if the purpose is simply to re-engage via email.

  2. Shelley Sweeney

    What a great example of how direct mail can help businesses keep customers! An inexpensive, personalized post-card worked great in this case – and Outlet-Avenue definitely saw the results. Today, consumers are bombarded with messages over digital channels, however direct mail has proven to be a valuable channel for marketers. Consumers have to physically get it out of their mailbox which immediately draws their attention to the piece and it has the potential to stay in the consumers’ hands longer than an email in a digital inbox. Direct mail works because it builds a connection with the consumer on a personal level and your message is sure to stand out against the clutter of today’s digital landscape. – Shelley Sweeney, VP/GM Service Bureau/Direct Mail Sectors, Xerox

  3. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    I thought the point about marketers not being able to contact unsubscribers by email but being able to contact them by direct mail was a really great point. The fact that 64% of unsubscribers RE-subscribed based on the direct mailer is very, very telling. It’s not necessarily that these consumers don’t want a relationship with the marketer. Sometimes it’s just the channel. We may know this intuitively, but when you see the metrics, it’s a whole different thing.

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