Direct Mail vs. Email Marketing: Direct Mail is Winning

Email marketing is constantly lauded as the future of direct marketing. With its ease of use, perceived cost savings and endless tracking abilities, it’s easy to understand why. So why is direct mail still getting the results email claims to have?

Spam: Email Relevance Killer.

When email first started growing in popularity, it was fun, easy and free to send. It functioned the same as snail mail without the perceived hassles of the post office. But then marketers found out and started sending their marketing materials, with great success at first. And since advertising is a numbers game, they knew that if they could just send to more people they’d make more money. However people recoiled and flocked to email services that provided filtering for unwanted emails. The war of relevance had begun, with marketers constantly trying to wiggle their way through the crowd while users kept blocking them out. Spam has all but killed lead generation via email marketing. But direct mail doesn’t win this battle because email lost, people actually enjoy receiving mail.

People Have an Attachment to Physical Media.

Do you believe that email marketing is going to replace direct mail? Think again.

People love their mail. Don’t think so? Just think about how you feel when you open an empty mail box, that sting of rejection. Sure the pile of coupons gets in the way on occasion, but you still sift through it. Direct mail marketing provides mail that’s tactile and cries out to be touched. We recipients hear the cry and once a day we sort through the postcards and catalogs, searching for something of interest. With email, it seems we are constantly trying to run and hide from the barrage of scams and cheap prescription drugs.

Even the internet is discovering that people like the physical realm. As the web matures, more and more pages resemble real life. Textured headers, photos with curled corners and drop shadows all give the web a feeling of existing in the real world. Mail includes that familiarity free of charge. Email marketing can only pretend.

Are They Judging by the Cover? Remove it.

With direct mail, postcards especially, the recipient gets the full marketing experience right off the bat. No hurdle to overcome before the message is revealed. If the headline doesn’t capture the user’s attention, something else might, a brief scan of the piece can pique a readers interest and encourage further action. Email marketing can’t do that. Poorly written subject lines end up straight in the trash without a second glance.

Part of the ease of email, is the ease at which we rid ourselves of unwanted messages. One click and it’s gone forever. Email subject lines have to work twice as hard to grab our attention. Even then, users have to click to open the message to get the details of the marketing. And it gets worse! Since many email programs block images as a default, even another step is required before the viewer can read it as intended.

But the young crowd lives in the digital world…right?

“75% of 18- to 34-year-olds have made a purchase resulting from a direct mail campaign”

Well that may be true to an extent. But according to a study by ExactTarget, about 75% of 18- to 34-year-olds have made a purchase resulting from a direct mail campaign. Spammers and scams have created distrust with marketing online in addition to the waste of time spent unclogging inboxes. The negativity surrounding online advertising gives direct mail credence and trustworthiness. Seniors have preferred print media because of the years of comfort of newspapers and magazines. This trust has been bestowed on their children and grandchildren over the years.

Email marketing isn’t as cheap as it seems

Planning on sending a targeted email to bring in new business? Plan on spending some serious coin. While targeted mailing lists can be rented for a few pennies a name, email lists can costs hundreds of dollars per thousand. That doesn’t even include designing the email. Email marketing companies like infoUSA go great lengths to ensure their email addresses follow all opt-in and CANSPAM laws, which drives the cost up and the number of quality leads down. And even then you are bottom fishing, hoping to catch someone’s attention with a single line of text. Instead you can print and mail an entire direct mail campaign for as little as 26¢ each for a message that will be picked up and read, and not magically filtered to the Junk folder.

Email has its place

Email can actually be very useful when used in the right circumstance. For instance, an email newsletter to keep in contact with your current customers is a great way to keep your company in a person’s mind. You can also send out coupons and other special offers to generate business. Email can be tricky, but it can still have a place in your marketing mix.

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