Businesses and organizations have spent numerous billions on e-mail as well as other Net message delivery mechanisms more than the past decade, generally at the expense of far more conventional marketing and advertising approaches, like direct mail. But in some respects e-mail has failed to live as much as its initial promise. And marketers that are turning back to tried-and-true procedures like "snail mail" report excellent outcomes, typically greater than e-mail.
Based on a 2005 Direct Marketing Association (DMA) comprehensive study of marketing and advertising tools, e-mail produces the most effective return on investment and could be the cheapest and fastest direct advertising tool. But only a fraction from the average company's prospective buyers opt in to most rentable lists. And it can be against federal law to send commercial e-mails to people that have asked not to obtain them. It is spam. If businesses play by the new guidelines, they can not get their promoting messages to the vast majority of their prospective buyers applying e-mail.
So marketers are going "back towards the future" by reinvigorating their marketing campaigns with renewed investments in printed and mailed supplies to complement or substitute for e-marketing techniques.
Why Direct Mail Works
In a current write-up in B2B Advertising Newsletter, a publication with the Business Promoting Association, consultant Eric Gagnon described direct mail as the "workhorse" of each business-to-business advertising and marketing program. "While the buzz nowadays is all about Internet-based marketing--Google AdWords and e-mail advertising programs--direct mail is nonetheless the mainstay of most business-to-business marketing and advertising and lead-generation programs: where there is a readily-identifiable mailing list of plausible prospects, as well as a mailing piece to send to them, there's a lucrative marketing project waiting to take place."
Direct mail is powerful at focusing advertising and marketing strategies on vertical markets which will be reached by renting targeted mailing lists. Says Gagnon, "The most significant element of any direct mail project would be the mailing list."
Increasingly, marketers are discovering that postal-mailed printed materials are better for prospecting new business enterprise for the reason that marketers can have access to entire lists, for example subscribers to a trade magazine or members of an association. Hardly ever a lot more than a fraction of publication subscribers or association members opt in to a permission-based e-mail list. As well as the additional "selects" required, like job function, market or number of personnel, to carve out the most beneficial segment from the list to reach a particular target, the fewer names stay. Marketers who wish to reach almost everybody who can be a consumer should use direct mail in their multimedia mix.
As an example, only 31% in the subscribers to InformationWeek magazine agreed to obtain e-mail, only 55% of Chain Store Age, and 65% of Sales & Advertising Management Magazine. To reach all with the subscribers of these influential market publications, you ought to rent these lists and send them a direct-mail piece.
E-mail's second major limitation as a cold-call leads-generator is deliverability. Spam filters, frequently changed e-mail addresses, multiple e-mail addresses for the same person, list churning and unreliability in e-mail dissemination mean that a substantial minority of e-mails that are sent don't get delivered.
In an environment exactly where success or failure is measured in tenths of a percentage point, every e-mail message that fails to get through to its intended recipient is a lost opportunity. Market estimates indicate that the proliferation of spam filters has created a virtual spam filter minefield, which traps as much as 14-25% of e-mail messages broadcast for legitimate marketing purposes. And marketers rarely know who didn't get their message.
Messages trapped by spam filters are shown as delivered on e-mail transmission reports. That is, recipient e-mail servers do not reply back for the senders to notify them that the message was trapped by the spam filter. There are tactics that can be used to substantially increase the likelihood that the e-mail will avoid spam filters, but there is no guarantee.
Not just about every printed piece gets to a potential customer either. Quite a few direct promoting professionals acknowledge that direct mail can't reach every person on a list. But there is no such thing as a spam filter in the direct-mail universe and at least there are postal mechanisms for reporting which pieces can't be delivered.
Ninety percent could be the standard guaranteed delivery rate of a direct-mail list, but e-mail delivery rates are usually high, too, and you only pay for the quantity delivered. The problem is that you don't know how several are trapped by spam filters.
Rich Carango, vice president of marketing agency Schubert Communications in Downington, PA, was quoted recently by DM News as saying flatly, "There is a souring about the feeling of how well e-mailing is working, mostly simply because of spam filters." His agency also guides their clients far more toward direct-mail tools like newsletters and postcards.
Direct mail "is kicking butt," Laurie Beasley, president of Beasley Direct,UGGs Canada outlet, recently told a Silicon Valley audience of mostly technology marketers. She strongly recommended its use along with helpful e-marketing approaches,UGGs Outlet Online, which she says might be made more deliverable employing certain techniques her company uses.
Reports B-to-B magazine in its July 10 issue, "In a bright spot for conventional media, (forecaster Robert) Coen said, despite the postal rate increase in January, direct-mail advertising in the first quarter grew 3.5% over the year-earlier period to 20.6 billion pieces." He said marketers' renewed interest in gaining much better ROI is driving them to use direct-response advertising methods.
Many young people who grew up on the Net enjoy communicating by e-mail or instant messaging and have never learned the mechanics--and benefits--of direct mail. They have little experience with the complexities of list acquisition, distribution, printing and also the techniques and tactics of direct-mail creative. This generational predisposition toward e-marketing tools generally means that businesses are not taking advantage of all the direct-marketing strategies that are available to them. But the trend is changing.
The DMA, representing mail, phone and online direct marketers, in its 2005 response rate study demonstrated a noticeable growth in corporate use of direct mail, after some years of decline. In its review of 21 industries, from computers to agriculture,Bailey Button Triplet, the DMA documented direct mail edging out e-mail response rates by 2.77% to 2.48%.
E-mail outperformed direct mail in the study as a lead generator 3.15% to 2.15%, but, again,UGGs Cheap, the outcomes are considerably diluted by the fact that only a comparatively small proportion of potential clients on lists agree to get e-mail. A fairly higher percentage of those became leads, but the statistical majority of potential clients have chosen not to get unsolicited e-mails.
In some crucial respects, direct mail bested e-mail in the DMA test. Direct- mail response rates were even higher than e-mail in the online-oriented computer and electronic products industries (3.14% more than 3.02%). Direct mail out-performed e-mail in other areas, like revenue per contact ($0.85 more than $0.18), traffic generated (5.84% over 1.54%), fundraising (5.08% more than 0.66%) and direct order (2.20% more than 2.07%).
A June 2006 post in DM News entitled, "Mail Withstands BTB's Online Shift" quotes mega-direct marketer Harte-Hanks SVP Matthew Rosenblatt as saying that in spite of the money gushing into Internet promotional vehicles,UGGs for Kids Cheap, "mail remains very powerful, particularly when used in conjunction with online strategies."
DM News notes, "Mail also is a improved driver than e-mail when C-level executives are the target audience. At this level the most effective types of communication are either dimensional pieces or very simple personal letters." Some direct marketers have observed that younger workers have a greater tendency than senior executives to opt in to e-mail lists.
Steve Middleton, EVP of Strategic Planning for international advertising and marketing services agency Publicis Dialog says "E-mail is still an extremely productive mechanism for campaigns sent to our customers' internal databases. When it comes to making use of external lists, however, the response rates have dropped precipitously more than the last five years and yet the price for the lists has remained constant. The result is that the cost per lead for e-mail has been driven up significantly. With lots of of our large, blue chip accounts who used to use e-mail as their primary lead generation vehicle, we are now seeing response rates and cost-per-lead ratios from direct mail that far surpass the outcomes from e-mail."
Marketers can draw from a wide variety of direct-mail vehicles to suit specific campaign objectives: letters, packages, promotional items, postcards, brochures and publications like newsletters.
Some corporations have used newsletters as very efficient lead-generation, cross-selling and relationship-growing tools, empowered by comprehensive databases compiled by list brokers. Newsletters are generally by far the most effective type of direct mail due to the fact they are less likely to be discarded in corporate mailrooms than brochures. They reach targets' desks--the first threshold a direct-marketing campaign.
Secondly, newsletters are normally improved read than brochures since they are perceived as far more informational and less promotional, contain success stories of prospects who use a company's services and products, use compelling artwork and graphics, feature product information and useful industry news, drive prospects to web sites and can help gather advertising research. They can even have persuasive PR value when you send them to reporters, editors and producers who use them for post ideas.
Direct mail: Using graphics to market
A picture is not only worth a thousand words in advertising. It really is also worth a heck of a lot of money in increased response rates, say graphics communicators.
One frustrating thing about e-mail communications is a marketer's inability to use many images to present information, particularly complicated information. E-mail limits the use of complex graphics, since long download times could be annoying to prospects and some graphics never reach targets at all.
Furthermore, it is difficult to get the kind of reaction from an e-mail subject line that you can get from an emotionally evocative image on a brochure or publication cover that works with compelling copy. With direct-mail pieces, you can get additional of your message into the hands of your target audience. The challenge with an e-mail subject line is that you've only got a few short words, coupled with the "from" line, in order to influence the maximum two-second read or delete decision. At least with a hardcopy mailing piece, your piece gets into the recipients hands and has additional "real estate" to persuade them to open it rather than throw it away.
Limitations on the use graphics in advertising deprive a communicator from using essential aspects of the advertising and marketing spectrum. In addition, it is challenging for marketers to completely control the final look of e-mail communications. Unless they are very carefully coded to ensure the proper use of HTML escape sequences, the actual image may vary when viewed from different browsers. For example, a question mark may appear instead of an apostrophe and graphic images will vary when viewed on different monitors or output on inexpensive desktop printers.
In contrast, printed direct-mail communications give marketers total control more than the look and feel with the final piece--from the photo quality to the paper stock. The power of visuals is strong in our fast-paced society. Generations raised on television are influenced by visuals and are less inclined to read text-heavy communications. Striking visuals entice prospects to read and respond to printed direct-mail pieces. They also superior explain complex subjects.
The DMA study also revealed very high performance rates from "dimensional" direct mail, defined as mailings shaped other than the standard envelop stuffed with letters and materials. In fact, dimensional direct mail pulled dramatically much better than standard commercial marketing and advertising mail.
Dimensional mail can take the form of imaginative objects sent to creatively illustrate a marketing campaign, like a football or an orchestral conductor's baton sent to an executive with a message tie-in. Typical response rates on dimensional mail more than letter mail was 3.67% compared to 2.77%. Dimensional direct mail produced lead generation outcomes of 5.4% compared to 2.15% for standard direct mail.
Conclusion: Direct mail enhances other advertising techniques
Direct mail is a key instrument in your direct marketing symphony, perhaps probably the most crucial. Most marketers support research findings that just about every form of marketing and advertising enhances the effectiveness of each and every other form. All instruments playing together make great music, if skillfully executed and driven by well-researched and talented creative. There is as much art as science in selecting the right media mix.
Each promoting challenge will necessarily produce a unique campaign. And yet, research and also the case-history experience of many marketers support the contention that mailing, calling, e-mailing when possible, and mailing and calling again is a winning combination in generating leads in a business-to-business and quite a few business-to-consumer environments. Naturally, the bigger the price tag on a company's services or products, the much more contacts will be needed to support a sale. Hence, the need for multimedia orchestration.
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