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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Direct Mail is still relevant in the age of Social Media and E-Mail Marketing

In the age of social media, and e-mail marketing, you may be surprised to find that direct mail still proves to be amongst the most effective use of your marketing or fundraising budget. While the web is a great source for dynamic information and instant gratification, receiving a piece of direct mail is a more tangible experience.

Many of your recipients will prefer direct mail and print marketing over digital. With the proliferation of e-mail marketing, e-mail boxes are getting more crowded, while physical mail boxes are becoming less so. With less mail hitting these physical mail boxes comes less competition for the recipients attention. And while e-mail can be discarded with a click of the button, or filtered directly to a spam folder, your mail piece has to have at least been placed in the recipients hand and glanced at before hitting the recycle bin.

Response rates for direct mail marketing hover at around 3.4% while e-mail marketing response rates  land at a much more modest 0.12%. Admittedly direct mail marketing is a more expensive process - therefore e-mail marketing has a higher return on investment on average. A lot of marketers use this as an excuse to do so called "spray and pray" email blasts where they send generic emails to large numbers of email addresses and hope their message gets out enough to generate a decent response.

There is a better way. The most successful marketing campaigns are integrated, or multi-channel campaigns. These campaigns use aspects of direct mail, e-mail and social media combined. Perhaps you start with a highly targeted direct mail piece, one that is tailored towards the recipients interests. Along with the piece is a traditional return device to order a product, sign up for your service, or to donate to your cause. Along with this traditional return piece, there is also a QR Code or Personalized URL (PURL) which leads to a landing page for the recipient to sign up, purchase or donate. This web site can also serve as a source to gather more information from the recipient such as their e-mail address. It can also serve as an easy way to get them to follow you on twitter, or like you on facebook. This will allow you to communicate with them on a more regular basis, keeping you in front of mind when they are ready to purchase or donate.

Maybe your initial direct mail didn't get you an immediate response - but it was a first touch. It's been said that to make a sale, unless it was an impulse buy, you will need to "touch" the buyer several times. Maybe your next step would be a follow-up mailing, e-mail or even a phone call. If you managed to get the recipient to follow you on a social channel, sharing content relevant to your target markets interests will also keep your company in mind, and be considered a "light touch". According to the ‘Rule of Seven,’ formulated by marketing expert Dr. Jeffrey Lant, to penetrate the buyer’s consciousness and make significant penetration in a given market, you have to contact the prospect a minimum of seven times within an 18-month period.

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