Fellow direct mailers . . . sometimes I like to remind you of what a great medium we have in direct mail. That’s because “snail mail” doesn’t get the respect it deserves today. Critics will say that in the 21st century other methods of communication are much more popular. There’s e-mail and texting and Facebook ads. And then, on top of that we hear nothing but bad news about the state of the Post Office and how it’s losing money.
It’s funny though. In spite of what they say, the Post Office’s business in direct mail advertising is actually growing, and it is not about to disappear. I’ve addressed this issue a number of times, giving facts and statistics about the strength of the postal service.
But today I want to look at something else – the specific advantages that direct mail offers over every other form of product promotion.
I’ve put together a list of just some of the ways that direct mail marketing is your best choice. Keep this list handy, and if you ever start to wonder whether direct mail is right for you and worth the expense, read this list to refresh your memory:
There’s Less Competition These Days for Your Prospect’s Attention
The critics have one thing right. In general, people are mailing much less frequently than they used to. Instead of writing letters, people are e-mailing, texting, and using Facebook.
But what does that mean for us as direct mailers?
For one thing, it tells us that advertising by sending an e-mail is not your best bet. People’s inboxes are filled to the gills so nothing stands out, and lots of messages go directly into a junk folder.
It also tells us that when people pick up their physical mail, there isn’t as much to distract them from OUR message. In fact, there’s a greater likelihood these days that a direct mail sales piece will be read than even a few years ago.
And statistics show that the vast majority of people pick up their mail and read it right away. Plus, they actually have a measurable positive emotional response to physical mail.
So, with less competition for their attention, and positive anticipation, your prospects will gladly read your sales piece.
It’s the Closest Thing to Talking Over the Kitchen Table
The world today is overloaded with distractions. When we watch television we’re bombarded with commercials. Does any one commercial really stand out in the string of five or six commercials that are aired during the commercial breaks? And with DVRs, it’s not uncommon for people to zap their way through the whole lot, so they never see even one.
And then, as I mentioned, there are all those e-mails clogging inboxes or ending up in the junk folder. If your ad were part of that deluge of messages, can you be sure that you’ll be noticed? Research shows that the open rates for e-mail is declining and it’s getting more difficult to make online sales. So that may not be the best way to try to get your message across.
But what happens when a person opens your sales piece and sits down with it? You’ve got that person all to yourself. There are no other ads interfering with your prospect’s attention. No e-mails coming in to pull her away.
It’s like you’re sitting at the kitchen table with her, explaining that you understand her problems and needs, promising her that you have the perfect solution, and telling her the simple steps she should take to get her hands on the answer to all her troubles.
It’s that one-on-one aspect of direct mail that makes it so powerful. Nothing can beat that, unless you actually send a sales person to your prospect’s home – which isn’t likely.
You Can Hone in on Your Best Prospects
When you put an ad on TV or in a magazine, you’re just sending it out to the whole universe of people, but not all of them are going to be interested in your message. You really only want to get the attention of a small number of people who have a reason to want to learn about your product. It’s a waste to blast away at everyone in general – with the danger that no one will notice – including your best prospects.
When you advertise through direct mail you can be much more scientific in your approach. List sellers have a tremendous amount of information about the people on their lists. They have demographic details (age, gender, number of children, income level, geographic location), along with specific interests, health issues, and so on. That means that you can precisely target your most qualified prospects.
For example, let’s say you sell walk-in tubs for the disabled and elderly. You don’t have to send out mailings willy-nilly. Instead, you can get lists with the names of people above a certain age who own their own homes and have enough disposable income to afford your product. This is how direct mail helps you raise your response rate – and your profits!
Your Buyers Are More Likely to Yield a High Lifetime Value
I’ve done a lot of research in this area based on the results with my own clients, and I have found that the buyers you attract through direct mail just end up spending more money and remaining more loyal over an extended period of time. That means that the reverberating effect of your direct mail efforts is to bring on continuing orders and increasing profits over time.
What I’ve done is to compare the lifetime value of three different kinds of customers based on how they were first introduced to various companies. Customers were generated through TV ads, online campaigns, and direct mail. What I found was that:
- Online buyers spent the least amount of money over time
- The lifetime value of the TV buyers was double that of the online buyers
- And – drumroll please – the direct mail buyers had a lifetime value that was nearly double that of TV buyers and triple that of online buyers
This clearly shows that direct mail is superior to other forms of advertising when it comes to pinpointing the right population of buyers and converting them to long-term customers with great lifetime value.
Keep all this in mind the next time you plan your advertising budget. Direct mail could well be the best use of your money.