Direct Mail and Email Marketing Can and Should Join Forces
A common false dichotomy in today’s marketing world: marketers must choose between sending direct mail campaigns and sending email campaigns to communicate with customers and prospects. Many believe direct mail is dead, recalling the junk mail of yesterday and praising our tech-centric culture of today. While others argue consumers are now trained to tune out emails and that SPAM folders are in a constant state of overflow. The reality is, both channels have unique qualities that can further cement your marketing message when used in tandem.
A recent study in the U.K. considered this argument and embarked to find which is the more effective channel and what is the result of combining the two. A randomly targeted group of customers were divided into three groups: one received only email; the second received only direct mail; and, the third received a combination of both. The results below show the difference in incremental revenue per customer per group.
- The email group generated under £1 in returned revenue.
- The direct mail group generated around £5.
- The group who received both, performed best, generating revenue of around £6.
The study concludes that direct email and direct mail doesn’t have to be an either/or decision, but instead highlights that we have an opportunity now to explore the benefits of combining both mediums.
Email is a naturally popular marketing channel for obvious reasons. It is inexpensive to produce, send and study data analytics. The return on investment is, on average, $38 for every invested dollar. It is generally simple and quick to generate an email campaign that may be sent to thousands. Because of how inexpensive it is, email is a go-to tool for marketers to test out new content and promotions on customers and analyze response before bringing it to print. However, many customers find emails to be too impersonal and too inexpensive a platform, leading to less brand recognition and resulting in an average lifespan of 2 seconds for email.
Direct mail on the other hand, is far more expensive to create, send and study compared to an email campaign (not to mention if resources are wasted on undeliverable-as-addressed ((UAA)) mail). However expensive direct mail may be, the value and satisfaction from the customer is far higher than that of an email. There is a distinct difference between holding a tangible object in your hands, feeling the paper, seeing the true colors and reading extensive copy versus reading a quick headline and short copy on an email campaign. Research supports this notion. Personalization in direct mail has been known to increase brand recognition, emotional connectivity and the inclination to visit a website and browse online.
How can you effectively combine both channels to reap the unique benefits of each?
- Utilize the right channel for the right message. Send emails with news and updates for instantaneous delivery. Use emails to test promotions or content and analyze response (if the test goes well, consider moving it to direct mail). Use direct mail for catalogs or anything you would like to add more copy to and personalize.
- Use each channel to build on the previous communication. Play leap frog and connect your messages across channels. Keep your branding, graphics and voice consistent among messages to fortify your brand’s image and reinforce your statement.
- A good sending pattern to practice is the One-Two punch:
- Send direct mail first – initiate contact and present your offer. Your direct mail piece has, on average, a 17-day lifespan in your customer’s house, so make sure your messaging and cover page are impactful!
- Follow up a few days later with an email – reinforce your call to action and close the sale.
- Send another email a few more days later – drive up the response even more and convert those who might have missed out last time!
It’s clear the marketing game is no longer a choice between the digital and analog age, it is finding the best ways to utilize both, the best way to capitalize on every unique opportunity and make each channel work in its best way for you.
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