“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
– Mark Twain
Mark Twain was addressing his critics who were spreading rumors that he had passed away. In fact, Twain was very much alive and his popularity with readers was peaking.
Twain also could have been talking about direct mail marketing, that tried-and-true form of advertising that’s been around for over 100 years and still going strong.
The fact is direct mail is hardly dead. It is still being used aggressively and regularly by all kinds of savvy marketers. It’s a critical part of their overall marketing mix, especially when it comes to prospecting for new customers.
It’s been called many things, including junk mail. But in reality the new junk mail is actually all the messages you receive in your digital mailbox every day.
How many emails do you delete without even bothering to open? Maybe half of them, probably a whole lot more. It’s not unusual for someone to delete as much as 90% of emails received without ever opening them. The average person now receives 20, 30 or more emails each day soliciting everything from weight loss to travel deals, from miracle drugs to the latest ramblings of so-called experts.
Yes, email marketing is an extremely effective medium for communicating and selling customers. And it is certainly more convenient and much less expensive when compared to direct mail.
However, if you’re looking for new customers, direct mail wins hands down. On the back-end, direct mail is cheaper when figuring out the cost-per-sale.
When it comes to crafting a multimedia campaign, your best bet is to use a combination of different messaging platforms which could include email, direct mail, free standing inserts, print ads and more.
Let’s take a look at how the old way of doing things (direct mail) stacks up favorably when compared to the relatively new kid on the block (email):
Ten advantages of direct mail versus email marketing
- Direct mail is more reliable, trustworthy – According to an Epsilon study, 50% of consumers prefer direct mail to email, 67% think direct mail is more personal, 70% preferred direct mail to email when it comes to unsolicited information from unfamiliar companies and 25% perceived direct mail offers to be more trustworthy than email.
- Direct mail can be three-dimensional, unique – You can touch and feel it, and in some cases like scratch ‘n’ sniff even smell it. It has texture, visual impact, a sense of realism and validity. Email is strictly one-dimensional, a message appearing on your computer or smart phone screen. There is little differentiation from one email to another.
- Direct mail projects a personality – The creative execution options are virtually unlimited, from different shapes and sizes to snap packs to scratch and reveal to windows, die cuts and intricate folds. Direct mail enters a home through a mailbox. Emails can be released into never, never land with a simple click of a button.
- Direct mail has longevity – A direct mail package can remain on a coffee table or desk for days, even weeks for future reference. When it comes to emails they are very disposable, they are rarely kept or referred back to. Emails tend to be a one-time, extremely brief, quick shot at gaining the attention of a prospect.
- Direct mail has a higher perceived value – When it comes to email prospecting campaigns, 95%+ of all emails are never opened. Direct mail will at least capture a glance. Prospects may not read every word, but there is a level of brand and offer awareness that doesn’t exist with emails.
- Direct mail has a much higher delivery rate – About 95% compared to less than 50% for most email lists. Plus more and more ISPs like Yahoo, AOL and gmail are taking steps to block unsolicited emails, and this trend is expected to continue.
- Direct mail provides more details vs. short email content – The life span of an email is literally seconds. A direct mail package can actually hold the attention of a prospect for a much longer period of time, especially if there is an interest factor.
- There’s less competition in the mailbox compared to an email inbox – Since more and more marketers are choosing to flood email in boxes, the competition in the mailbox has been reduced. A direct mail package has a much better chance of being, opened, read and retained compared to an email message.
- People are more receptive to direct mail – When it comes to prospecting for new customers, direct mail will consistently beat email, usually by a significant margin. According to a DMA (Direct Marketing Association) study, direct mail is 10-30 times more effective than email when it comes to generating new customers.
- Direct mail can rely on emotion to illicit a response vs. the cold, hard facts of an email – An emotional tug can help marketers sell products and services. It’s much easier to touch upon someone’s feelings with direct mail when compared to the one-dimensional, fact-based content of most email campaigns.
Can direct mail and email team up to bolster a marketing campaign?
It’s been proven time and again that direct mail improves email response rates. Here’s a way to combine the power of these two mediums to optimize impact. About 7-10 days before a scheduled email blast, send all recipients a postcard talking about an upcoming special email offer that will soon be arriving in their in box.
This approach has been known to boost open and click-through rates. The email recipient is much more likely to keep an eye open for the soon-to-arrive email and much more likely to open and read the email, increasing the possibility for a sale.