Goodbye Facebook and Hello Direct Mail

For a long time, companies were dumping huge chunks of their marketing budgets into Facebook and targeted ads. This was a tempting strategy; companies had found great footing on Facebook with groups and pages, getting lots of organic views that were translating into high sales. But Facebook has rapidly changed the playing field, using new algorithms to force companies into spending money on ads and boosted posts in order to get visibility with customers. More businesses are getting priced out of the Facebook world.  

The interesting thing is that many of them don’t seem to mind; they’re more than happy to return to direct mail and other traditional advertising methods. Looking at a few of the specific companies making this change can help us understand why – and ensure that you’re making the right marketing decisions for your business.  


BarkBox is a subscription service which provides products for customers’ pets. In 2018, in the wake of scandals around Facebook’s privacy practices and changing algorithms, BarkBox made the choice to reduce its spend on Facebook advertising. In April 2018, the company went from spending 75% of its marketing budget on Facebook to just 25%. The newly freed up dollars have been going to more traditional advertising methods: TV and radio ads, direct mail products, and similar initiatives.  


The luxury bedding brand was spending 75% of its marketing dollars on Facebook ads. Founder Rich Fulop said that he was lured by the microtargeting aspect of the company’s programs. Fulop says his company is now moving away from Facebook as fast as possible. “You’re bidding against anybody and everybody that wants to compete for that space,” Fulop told Digiday. Brooklinen is now diversifying its spending into other marketing channels. This includes other social media platforms, but the company has also seen returns on more traditional channels. Again, a focus on print has benefited the business.  


Digiday also spoke to MVMT, a company selling high quality watches, sunglasses, and other accessories. Jake Kassan, the founder, told the website that Facebook was no longer the ideal place for a company to build a brand. Instead, he recommended that companies look at an “omnichannel” approach, working across several different areas to ensure a wide spread of marketing concepts. In 2018, 30% of MVMT’s budget was spent on traditional advertising, with a significant chunk of that spent on direct mail.  


Even big companies like Proctor & Gamble are making serious changes to their advertising spending. In interviews, P&G has specifically linked its decreased online spending with privacy concerns. Many experts suggest that seeing huge companies like P&G and Unilever pulling back from digital ad spending signals a sea of change in the market. Since banner ads and web cookies were tied together, marketing has become more and more hyper-targeted. Companies may be realizing that using direct mail methods can still allow them to target and focus their advertising without worrying about the privacy concerns of companies that are outside of their control.  

Diversify Your Marketing

There are many ways for companies to spend their advertising dollars, and most experts recommend as diverse an advertising net as a company can afford to cast. Instead of dumping all their dollars straight into Facebook and similar online ads, direct marketing methods like direct mail, catalogs, and mailers are all seeing an important rebound. Going against what many experts had expected, the “digital native” generation likes getting mailers and catalogs.

We’ve reached a point where we’ve trained ourselves not to see online ads because they interrupt our browsing experience, more and more computers use ad blockers, too many emails fill up the inbox, and there are privacy concerns.

Direct mail is unobtrusive, has staying power, delivers the benefit of the tactile marketing experience, and can be a lucrative customer acquisition tool.  

Direct Mail and Customer Acquisition

Many brands now turn to direct mail to provide that extra boost to help them reach their customer acquisition goals. Evaluate how much it costs you to acquire a customer in each digital channel. Then run the numbers on various direct mail print costs. You might be surprised to learn that using direct mail to acquire new customers is very similar to (or even less than) digital acquisition costs in some instances.

If you’ve considered testing catalogs or direct mail campaigns but need assistance planning your circulation strategy, determining how many catalogs to mail, or even generating sales forecasts, call us at 512-288-2742.  

We help brands put together a detailed circulation strategy, and then manage the direct mail campaigns from start to finish.

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