“Junk Mail is Alive and Growing”

By Eric Goldman

Many people thought the era of cheap electronic communications would spell doom for junk mail because of the cost advantages of printing and distributing electronic solicitations over dead trees solicitations. But instead, over the past year, marketers sent 114 billion pieces of direct mail–up 15% from five years ago. So what’s going on? Some theories:

* Consumers hate telemarketing and spam but are more tolerant of junk mail

* Telemarketing and email laws have driven marketers to less regulated marketing media (a process I call intermedia selection; it’s a manifestation of cross-elasticities of demand between marketing media)

* Junk mail isn’t subject to the equivalent of email blocklists or filtering.

* Junk mail can be effectively combined with marketing in other media to create an integrated multi-exposure marketing package

* Websites that form relationships with consumers are increasing their offline communication to them

* Junk mail still works. People respond to it–the DMA claims a 2.15% response rate across-the-board, which sounds lousy but is pretty good compared to other marketing media