New Research Suggests Direct Mail is Still a Valuable Communication Tool for Small Businesses

Staff Report

Friday, June 7th, 2019

While many industries focus on popular online platforms such as social media and email to communicate with customers, more traditional channels can still be effective for small businesses looking to stand out, suggests a new survey from The Manifest, a business news and how-to website.

Twenty-three percent (23%) of small businesses use direct mail with at least one other online channel, and one in 20 small businesses (5%) use direct mail only.

"Direct mail is an often-maligned channel that people think is over," said Jose Villa, president of Sensis Agency, an advertising firm in Los Angeles. "But in a digital world where people have short attention spans online, direct mail still gets people's attention."

Most Small Businesses Use Multiple Communication Channels

Businesses can reach a wider audience by using more than one communication channel. Most small businesses (64%) use two or more communication channels.

By using more than one communication channel, businesses can reach the widest possible audience to make sure their message is heard.

"Promote the promotion," said Ed McMasters, director of marketing, communications, and design at FUSIONWRX, a PR consulting firm.  "Don't use just one channel; use multiple, but don't repeat the same message on different channels. Mix it up a little here and there depending on your audience."

Small Businesses Should Combine Online and Offline Communication Channels

The availability of online communication platforms challenges more traditional offline communication channels, but businesses don't need to choose one or the other.

By using both online and offline channels, businesses can combine the potential and reach of these platforms to increase the audience of their communication campaigns.

"You constantly build your reputation by using all of your communication channels," said Mike Rosenberg, CEO of Veracity, a PR firm in Portland.

Many small businesses choose online communication methods known for being direct and effective, such as social media (67%), email (57%), and their company's website (47%).

Some small businesses also use more traditional communication avenues such as direct mail (28%) and, to a lesser extent, press releases (15%).

A small business may choose different communication methods depending on its industry, audience, the nature of the message it wants to communicate, and the anticipated return on investment, according to public relations agencies and experts.

Small businesses can reach a wider audience using multiple communication channels, but they need to make sure to tailor the message to the individual channels to maximize its impact.

The Manifest surveyed 529 small business owners and managers in the U.S.