Adam T. Sutton

38% Decline in Direct Mail Predicted

I recently had a conversation with Gordon Borrell, CEO, Borrell Associates, Inc., in which he made some startling predictions for the future of several advertising markets. Borrell’s team specializes in tracking local advertising and reporting how much advertisers are spending in a channel by region.

The most surprising prediction Borrell shared is that spending on direct mail will decline 38% over the next five years. Marketers spent about $48 billion on direct mail last year, Borrell says. While that size might suggest stability, Borrell says that it is actually an indication that the platform is in line for a mighty fall.

“When something grows really fast and gets up to a high level, and there’s a disrupter in the market place, some other technology that provides pretty much the same level of service but in a more efficient way, then you can expect there to be a roller coaster decline.”

That disruptor is Internet marketing in general, and email marketing in particular, Borrell says. Email is an affordable way to send personalized and targeted messages, and the technology continues to improve.

Also, recent reports that the United States Postal Service is considering eliminating Saturday service is contributing to his team’s prediction, Borrell says.

“If the day they cut is Saturday, then that really hurts direct mail. Marketers love to get pieces into homes on Friday and Saturday, because that’s when the buying is done in households.”

Borrell and his team base their predictions, in part, on a disruption model. They analyze what happened to markets of the past when disrupted by a new technology, and apply those lessons to current events.

Has your team cut direct mail this year? Or do you plan to in the next five years? Let us know in the comments…

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Consumer Marketing, Research And Measurement



  1. July 14th, 2009 at 15:57 | #1

    Interesting post. Don’t see the relevance to your comments on decreases. Different role in canada here. Telemarketing laws have increased direct mail use, combination marketing has increased direct mail use(PURL’s and social marketing combinations) and Canada post consistently reports 10% grow each year. I agree with some comments but there will always be a need and desire for direct mail/postcard marketing.

  2. July 15th, 2009 at 18:33 | #2

    While there is a place for email, email will only work if you have an email address to use. So unless you want to Spam, you need to get emails from prospects and clients somehow, and the only way to do that is to get them from people when they “walk in the door”. How do you get them to do that? Direct mail is a great option especially with today’s print on demand technology that allows for customization of each piece.

  3. July 20th, 2009 at 14:49 | #3

    The message is contrary to Marketing 360. Yet some short term decline will be due to reduced ad spending. However, there will be a definite lift in other mediums as the population ages. Mail will continue to decrease for marketing over the next few decades as other (and new) marketing tools increase in their application and availability. For now, direct mail will continue to compliment a well strategized campaign.

  4. Eric
    July 20th, 2009 at 16:46 | #4

    While I don’t believe it, I certainly hope the decline in direct mail occurs. Less competition in the mailbox = more readership and relevance for marketers that have customers that respond/ prefer direct mail like me!

  5. July 24th, 2009 at 13:22 | #5

    Muy buen blog de diseño! great blog! thanks from Argentina.

  6. July 28th, 2009 at 09:29 | #6

    While this may be true,I like it because of less competition in the mail stream,email has its placed and is cheaper,but a lot less effective,with 210 billion emails sent each day you get lost in the clutter,65% of senior citizens don’t have a computer or cell phone hows email gonna reach that market?The Direct Mail Biz will and is re-inventing itself,PURL’S is one example.

  7. August 6th, 2009 at 05:42 | #7

    I agree that there will be a decline in DM but it’s not going to die like alot of posts are saying these days.

    This has been seen time and time again with newspaper then radio then tv and DM and now we have email marketing.

  8. October 26th, 2009 at 08:27 | #8

    Your topic is really interesting but I can’t support your view because there is no declination of direct mail marketing.
    Now a days Direct mail services company that provides effective end-to-end direct mail services including data, printing, lettershop, fulfillment, and presort mail services.

  9. November 19th, 2009 at 16:58 | #9

    ,..] sherpablog.marketingsherpa.com is another great source of information on this issue,..]

  10. July 22nd, 2011 at 13:55 | #10

    While the numbers of companies utilizing direct mail are consistently getting smaller due to other advertising mediums, there will always be a place for direct mail due to how effective it is.

  1. July 14th, 2009 at 15:07 | #1
  2. July 14th, 2009 at 15:33 | #2
  3. July 28th, 2009 at 04:35 | #3
  4. July 29th, 2009 at 18:08 | #4
  5. February 15th, 2010 at 08:10 | #5