“If 90% of consumers are online, what better place for businesses to reach and engage with them?” Many modern Marketers will firmly defend that statement, trying to convince you that offline Marketing is an old-school, unproductive discipline, doomed to extinction. To a certain extent it’s true that the vast development of digital technologies has reshaped the way customers discover and interact with brands, thus forcing companies to pay more focus to online channels. However, that tendency does not necessarily lessen the relevance of traditional offline Marketing initiatives such as Direct Mail Marketing. Contrary to expectations and predictions, Direct Mail is not only far from becoming obsolete; the discipline is actually prospering, delivering positive ROI for those who have learned how to get the most from it. Here is why:
Direct Mail is Efficient
According to the Direct Mail Association (DMA) Factbook for 2013, 65% of consumers of all ages have made a purchase as a result of Direct Mail. Sending offline Marketing materials, through the “mailbox” medium, is surely an efficient way for a number of businesses to spread the word about their existence, services and upcoming events in a personalized, targeted and cost-efficient way.
Moreover, regarding the ongoing “rivalry” between direct vs. email: Direct Mail will always have the timeliness advantage since people are less likely to change their physical addresses (once per 2-10 years), compared to switching digital addresses (once per 1-2 years). In other words, actual house addresses remain more relevant for a longer period of time whereas email lists require frequent updates due to abandoned accounts. Additionally, Direct Mail companies can update your mailing list with services such as NCOA (National Change Of Address) which will keep your list current and accurate.
Less Competition for Visibility
The online landscape surely allows you to reach a greater number of people, but the level of competition between you and your rivals is much higher. As already mentioned above, the majority of companies are now focused merely on online channels, thus creating a highly competitive landscape within the Search Engines results. Penetrating that market and assuring better visibility than your competitors is frequently a rather expensive and demanding goal for small businesses to fulfill. When you invest in Direct Mail campaigns, however, you will usually compete for your audience’s attention only against a bunch of local players operating in the same business area.
Let’s say you made an investment in online ads, positioning and targeting them towards your ideal audience. Even if you added the most precise target details (demographics, occupation, etc.), there’s no guarantee that people will actually see them among the many other ads, let alone actually click on them. Now think about sending the same message in a tangible form, aimed to fall into their mailboxes. There’s almost 100% guarantee that your material will at least be seen and, depending on its quality – read and acted upon. So, generally, Direct Mail allows you to operate with exact targeting precision, as you would in an online environment, while also decreasing the chances of being ignored.
Direct Mail enables you to send highly personalized materials in a tangible form, thus making your customer feel special and boosting his or her trust in your company. Fact is – yes you can also send personalized messages by email; however, people are already used to receiving hundreds of those on a daily basis, making them more skeptical about the sender’s sincerity in showing that “Our company cares about you”.
Sending personalized materials by means of, for example, a service like Variable Data Printing, however, requires slightly greater efforts, but will definitely boost the consumer’s perception of your brand and increase your ROI.
More Precise ROI metrics
No matter the field of Marketing you invest in, in the end it’s all about the costs vs. gains margins, or the so called ROI. In that sense, measuring the positive impact of a Direct Mail campaign is frequently much more precise and easily comprehensible than measuring the success of a, let’s say, Social Media campaign. The reason is simple – when you send offline promotional materials – you know the exact number of recipients and eventually – generated leads. Which makes it way easier to calculate spending vs. earning margins. Whereas, in a Social Media campaign, there are more metrics that appear on the horizon; not to mention the fact that generating more likes and followers does not necessarily guarantee potential customers for your services.
To summarize, the prosperity of Direct Mail in an online era shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering its ability to empower small businesses with low-cost, highly efficient, well-targeted, personalized campaigns. So just because all the hype now centers on online Marketing doesn’t mean you should forget about the good old Direct Mailing and the value it could potentially bring to your lead generation investments.