Which will you remember more on your birthday — someone who sends you an email or text, or someone who takes the time to write and send you a handwritten card?
There’s nothing better than opening your mailbox and seeing a handwritten card addressed to you. It’s almost as good as chocolate and wine …. almost I said … but pretty close!
Relationships don’t happen through email and text messages. They may start that way, they may be maintained that way, and the young folks today even end relationships that way, but true connections come from phone calls, face-to-face meetings, and yes – direct mail.
Don’t believe it? Imagine what would happen if you were to text your sweetheart a “happy birthday” message instead of giving him or her a hug or a phone call on their special day. Most of us are smart enough to know that texts and emails just don’t cut it when it comes to our relationships, so why do people rely on them for marketing?
If you think your marketing strategy will work with online marketing alone, then consider these stats:
- Targeted B2B direct mail has a response rate of 4.4%, while email’s rate is only .12%.
- Four-fifths (79%) of consumers say they will act on direct mail immediately compared to only 45% who say they will deal with email straightaway.
- 12% of direct marketers surveyed say they intend to decrease direct mail (this is actually good meaning yours will stand out)
So What’s The Deal?
In my opinion, there are 2 things holding small business owners back:
- They’re always chasing the next shiny object.
Email social media, SEO, YouTube, Adwords, Facebook advertising, yada, yada, yada….Makes your head want to spin right?
Can you really be an expert in all of these things? Do you really need to be? You have a business to run!
What bothers me most about these online strategies is most of them absolutely no measurement of ROI – at least in dollar terms. Does it really matter how many likes your business has on Facebook? Is that going to help you make your next payroll? I doubt it – especially since less than 5% of your Facebook posts will be seen anyways.
2. They “think” direct mail is more expensive.
Yes, direct mail “can” be more expensive when compared to email marketing (at least initially). That’s because sending emails is cheap. But that also means that more of them are sent. Which means a lot more noise for your consumer. The fact that emails are cheap is also why spammers love to send them, which makes consumers a little more wary of them. An Epsilon study found that 25% of consumers found direct mail offers more trustworthy than email offers. People believe they get more junk in their email inbox than in their actual mailbox. And although direct mail is more expensive at first, it has the potential for a much higher ROI in the end, if done right. (remember it’s the dollars that count!)
I also see small business owners stray from direct mail for the simple reason that it seems to be outdated. With our high-tech lifestyles, it’s easy to assume that something like “snail mail” should be a thing of the past. But if it still works, why stop? According to Yory Wurmser, director of marketing and media insights at the DMA, direct mail has a response rate of up to 10 to 30 times that of email.
Even The Big Guys Do It
As competition in the electronics market grew, Sony found that its sales were dropping and advertisements were bringing in fewer and fewer new customer. In a move of marketing genius, they realized that customer retention would be the best way to increase revenue and strengthen the brand. The trick would be to encourage customers who had already made a large purchase to make another purchase in a short period of time, while maintaingin a positive relationship with the brand. Even more audacious was their goal to increase revenue on these repeat sales by 20 percent within 90 days!
To accomplish this feat, they turned to direct mail. Within two weeks of a purchase, customers would receive a customized postcard that thanked them by name and referenced the product they bought. The card also offered 10 percent off the purcahse of a DVD player. Two weeks later, a second postcard offered a discount on a television. This strategy was cheap and easy, and the results exceeded Sony’s most optimistic calculations. Here are the numbers: The revenue per thousand pieces was four times that of electronic campigns, and the ROI was four times the company’s threshold. Remember that goal of a 20 percent increase? By the end of the campaign, Sony had accomplished a 145 percent increase in repeat sales. The best part is that they meticulously tracked the campaign analytics and found that this growth was a direct results of the mail campaign.
Heck, just look at Google. There is no better example of a corporate giant in the digital space. Google owns one of the largest email platforms in the world – Gmail – and can talk to and target virtually anyone they want, at any time. Yet interestingly enough, a very large part of Google’s Global business acquisition strategy for AdWords, AdSense, and even businesses utilizing Places/Maps uses both print and direct mail advertising. They do this because direct mail is targeted, it is measurable, and it is producing results. It gets right to business owners and decision makers.
Direct mail works because there are certain direct marketing rules that have been so finely tuned that any experienced marketer would cry if you took away their direct ail budget for a “chance at going digital”. Google has a few experienced marketers on its staff. The next time that someone tells you that direct mail doesn’t work – ask them if they’ve ever heard of a little company named Google.
Can Direct Mail Work For My Small Biz?
Since everyone is suffering from email overload, sending a direct mail piece is a great way to get directly into the hands of who you’re trying to reach – whether its the mom with kids down the street or the CEO of a big company you’ve been trying to land. Direct mail will get attention (if designed right) over another email stuffed in the inbox. It can really make your small business stand out from the crowd. It also gives you an opportunity to be more personal. Today, personal sentiment is often lost in the business world, so to receive something well thought-out and original will be really refreshing to the person receiving it.
How Do I Make It Work For Me?
There are a few ways to pull off direct mail effectively. However, because the marketing world has changed, the way we go about direct mail is going to look differently than it used to. Instead of focusing on direct mail as it’s own separate platform, use direct mail in a way that encourages and drives digital interaction, meshing direct mail and online marketing together. If done correctly, it can have a huge impact on your entire campaign as a whole. So, here’s how to correctly go about your direct mail:
- Go for a targeted audience rather than a mass mailing list. This will ensure you’ve got the right content going to the right people. It will also allow you to be more personal with your message. So a message to get a first-time customer of a restaurant to return could be “Joe, thanks for dining with us last week. You really seemed to enjoy the spaghetti. Come back again in the next 15 days and we’ll give you an extra portion to take home with you.” That’s so much better than “Here’s a coupon for 10% off your next visit”
- Ensure your mail will be opened. Just like someone can easily hit delete on an email without ever reading it, they can do the same with a direct mail piece. To make sure your mail gets opened:
- Create a direct mail piece that screams OPEN ME! “Lumpy mail” is a great way to do this.
- Personalize it: no one likes to be addressed as “customer”. Address it to the specific person.
- Use regular postage as opposed to bulk rate.
- Make your headline catchy. It’s the first thing they’ll see when they open it. Make sure it grabs their attention.
- Integrate your online and offline marketing strategies. Include a call to action that includes both offline (ex: phone, order form, fax) as well as online (visit website, social media, email) methods to reach you.
While some people will still say that direct mail is dying, it looks like it’s not going to go down without a fight. According to the facts, it can still work for your small business. And, if done correctly, it can give a big boost to your online marketing plan, too (a double bonus). So don’t give up on it just yet! Just like any marketing method, following the right steps will lead to results.
About Stacey Riska
Stacey Riska, aka “Small Business Stacey” is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about saving small business and rebuilding Main Street. She helps small and local business owners #CRUSHIT by teaching them marketing strategies that get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients, MORE sales, and MORE money.
Stacey is the founder of Small Biz Marketing Specialist, THE go-to place for marketing tips, techniques and strategies that get results. Stacey is also the creator of the Daily Deals for Massive Profits Training Program, an online video training program that teaches small and local business owners how to use daily deal sites like Groupon to skyrocket their business growth and get massive profits. In this program she teaches from experience, as it was the key strategy that transformed her coffee and smoothie business from being $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business. When not saving the small business world, she enjoys sipping red wine, eating chocolate (who doesn’t!) and spending time with her amazing husband.