Does direct mail marketing still have a future or is now simply an old-fashioned dinosaur? Surely email marketing is the future? It’s quicker, more efficient and cheaper. There can only ever be a battle if both sides compete on a level playing field, and when it comes to marketing this field is anything but level. Technology and the internet have changed communications irrevocably. How can direct mail ever compete, when it starts with one hand effectively tied behind its back? Well, perhaps it’s not quite as clear cut as many would have you believe – read on and make your own mind up.
- Direct mail has a pedigree:
Direct mail has been around for quite a while and it’s already a known quantity. It works – there’s no question about that. There are undoubtedly advantages to email marketing, but maybe its disadvantages outweigh these. Emails are generally received at work or whilst the customer is busy. Direct mail lands on the customers’ door steps allowing them to read it when they are most receptive and relaxed. Digesting information at leisure will mean your customer is more likely to be responsive to the message or offer you are proposing.
- Direct mail is more likely to be read:
The power and influence of having a leaflet or booklet in a customer’s hands should never be underestimated. They are more likely to read these documents. They are useful and compelling: the reader can see what the offer is without having to search any further for the information that might interest them. Of course, there’s a chance they might not be interested in what you’re offering, but at least they’ll have seen it and evaluated it. With an email, if customers fail to find the information instantly, then the temptation is to immediately hit the delete button
- Direct Mailing can be persuasive and powerful:
It’s very difficult to get across an emotion at the best of times, but with a simple email, it’s just that little it harder. Printed leaflets and flyers can be used to convey emotions easier than their online counterparts and are capable of holding a reader’s attention for longer. Logos, photographs and colourful graphics can all help to stimulate the reader’s interest and give your company that little bit longer to persuade, cajole or convince your potential customer that what you’re offering is superior and deserves their attention.
- Direct Mail is statistically more likely to be trusted:
Most customers distrust new information instinctively: having said that, there’s no question that they want to be able to trust the information that’s presented to them. Direct marketing is better suited to helping your company develop this sense of trust. Direct mailing lets you include a variety of forms of information to back up your promises: companies can include objective, factual-based documentation, customer testimonials and colourful flyers with the offer to tempt and re-assure potential customers. Documentation in the hand is more likely to be trusted than online offers, no matter how tempting they may at first appear. Customers generally trust what they can see and touch.
The not so good:
- Direct mail is more expensive than email marketing
Direct mail can be more expensive and can undoubtedly be a time-consuming process. All these costs are front loaded, so need to be borne in mind. We’re still in the grips of the recession and the competition is getting increasingly aggressive: costs are crucial. There’s also little hope that postage costs will ever reduce. Company’s also need to factor in the design and printing costs; though print on demand digital printing has meant that it’s now more affordable to print smaller quantities at a more reasonable cost. In spite of all these apparent disadvantages however, it’s still worth bearing in mind that statistically you’re more likely to see a better return by using direct mail. So maybe the higher costs are ultimately worth it in the long run.
- Nobody likes junk mail:
Customers are undoubtedly fed up of receiving offers they never requested or are never likely to be interested in. Many will go out of their way to avoid junk mail and will specifically request that they are removed from direct mailing lists to avoid it. Junk mail can definitely be a curse of modern life, but it isn’t judged as harshly as spam: customers fear spam and what it might do to their computers and data lists. Junk mail may be an irritant, but rarely can it ever be seen as a threat. Besides, most people who receive direct mail are usually targeted, so may well be interested in what you have to say.
Which ever method your business chooses to market your products or services, there will always be swings and roundabouts. Some businesses are undoubtedly better suited to email marketing whilst others prosper better by using more traditional methods. Whatever method you choose it has to be the right choice for your business. Interestingly though, the most recent British Marketing survey in 2010, found that over 1.5 million more people are now responding to direct mail marketing than they did a year ago. Maybe that’s the most important piece of information after all.