Do you see email, Facebook and Twitter as today’s relevant marketing strategies, replacing direct mail marketing? Are you convinced that customers and prospects view marketing mail as junk mail? Did you try direct mail marketing once, with disappointing results?
If so, you may be surprised to learn that volumes of research support the fact that direct mail marketing remains an effective marketing tool and it is enhanced, not replaced, by email and social media. It’s not that direct mail is dead – it’s that single-channel communication is dead.
Using marketing strategies cooperativelyNot everyone responds to communications in the same way. Today, any marketer using only one method to reach customers and prospects is risking effectiveness. Rather than use one method in isolation, several methods should be combined to multiply their effect:
Scenario 1: Use a direct mail post card with a printed QR code to direct the target audience to your website. At the website, provide an incentive to gather email addresses. Invite visitors to engage with your social sites.
Scenario 2: Use the opt-in email list to direct a customer to your website to request a direct mail pack. Send a follow-up email message to be sure that the pack was received.
Scenario 3: Use a direct mail piece to remind donors or members of the need to renew. Use email to remind non-responders of the approaching deadline to join or give. Send a written communication to responders (thank you) and non-responders (second follow-up mailing).
As Charles Gaudet, marketing expert and founder of PredictableProfits.com,
reminds us, “One would think that if digital communication was so good then the online giants of the world, namely Google and Microsoft, would rely solely on email and other digital media, but they don’t. In fact, they spend millions of dollars each year reaching out to customers and prospects using direct mail. Why? Because it works.”
Direct mail: the logical first stepJohn Jantsch, creator of the Duct Tape Marketing System, says “Marketing is getting people who have a specific need or problem to know, like, and trust you.” For most businesses and organizations, direct mail is the logical first step to accomplish these objectives.
Sending direct mail – particularly a series of mailings – allows prospects to become familiar with your company’s name, logo, location, product line and services. Even if there’s no immediate need for what you’re offering, you build name recognition and allow the prospect to get to know your business. Further, you increase the likelihood that the prospect will visit your website or click through to it in search results.
Is direct mail junk mail?Although unsolicited advertising or promotional material is called junk mail by some, it is welcomed by others. According to the Direct Marketing Association 2010 Response Rate Trend Report, 79% of households either read or skim advertising mail sent to their home.
This finding is consistent with a study conducted by ICR for Pitney Bowes. That survey found that despite the widespread use and popularity of digital media overall, 73% of consumers prefer mail for receiving new product announcements, compared to 18% who prefer email. The survey also found that 31% of consumers are less likely to discard unopened mail (including new product announcements, coupons, brochures and catalogs) than they are to delete spam (53%).
Unsolicited mail versus unsolicited emailTo compare unsolicited mail to unsolicited email, the ICR study asked consumers what specific advantages they saw in unsolicited mail. The results are interesting:
- 45% found mail less intrusive than email.
- 40% found mail more convenient (save and consider at leisure).
- 30% of respondents found mail to be less high pressure (let them consider their decision).
- 23% of respondents found mail to be more descriptive (easier to picture the offer).
- 12% of respondents found mail to be more persuasive.
Other differences include:
- Email can be designated by the recipient as spam and blocked from the inbox. Direct mail, on the other hand, does get into the mail box. And because it is tangible, some part of the mail piece will be seen even if it is discarded.
- Mail that arrives regularly may be more welcome than email. Prospects unsubscribe from email at a faster rate than they request to be removed from a mailing list.
- If someone moves and turns in change-of-address orders to the USPS, that information is made available to mailers. There are no similar update services for email addresses.