Back in the day, before ones and zeros were invented, we used a quaint but antiquated old system to do our marketing.
It involved a derivative of trees called “paper” that we used to fold up into a paper container called an “envelope”. We would then put something called a “stamp” on it (although some advanced societies had contraptions mysteriously called “franking machines” to do it automatically) and we would send it to people using the “postal service”.
Researchers claim that the system lasted for about a century and a half, first being devised in the mid-nineteenth century only to start declining in the late 1990s.
Never mind all the “gurus” tell you, direct mail is still one of the most powerful, versatile and cost-effective ways of marketing your business, brand or product out there.
1. You can touch direct mail
Emails come and go. They’re easy to gloss over and ignore if they make it through your spam folder. Something you hold in your hand is far more compelling: it’s a physical connection that is far more profound. Especially if it’s well-designed, you can add things to a printed page that ensure a greater sense of connection and trust for every potential customer.
What’s more, if you’re smart and very targeted, you can include something in it. If prospects have to open the door to get their hands on your letter, do you think they’re not going to read it?
2. Direct mail makes an emotional connection
We all know the benefits of creating an emotional connection with prospects. In fact, marketers are nothing without it.
Research has shown physical messages trigger a more profound emotional response than virtual words. Physical, personal messages go much deeper into prospects’ memories and will get under their skin in a more positive, compelling way.
3. Direct mail converts better
Marketing agencies love all the ideas and branding, and they have their place. The ultimate question, however, is: does it work? What’s your conversion rate?
Industry figures put email conversion rates at about 1 per 1,000. Direct mail converts at 1 in 25. Even taking into account the cost of the stamp, that’s pretty good. That means for every 25 letters you send; one becomes a paying customer. How many paying customers would you need for your campaign to be profitable?
4. Direct mail is more personal
Deep down we all want to be loved. We respond better to a handwritten address, a personal message, or something in a parcel. They make us feel special. The greater the personalisation, the more special your prospect will feel and the better chance you have of getting a response.
That’s why ‘lumpy’ mail works. Not the dreaded and very generic “pen in the post charity begging letter (we’ve all received them) but something highly targeted and very personal to prospects you have identified and named will make a physical connection that is unparalleled by any other means.
5. Direct mail tells you more about your prospects – and your success
Direct mail has a built-in feedback system that allows you to monitor the results of your campaign easily.
A/B split testing campaigns allow you to determine the most successful approach. Start small to minimise the risk of going in heavy on a campaign that’s not working. Give it the right amount of time to get proper results and once you know which technique works best, rinse and repeat. That way, you’ll ensure minimum investment for maximum return.
6. Lastly, no-one else is doing it
Perhaps the best thing about direct mail is that people confuse and conflate it with junk mail. Direct mail is personalised and targeted; junk mail is scattergun.
You will hit some prospects with junk, but they won’t be loyal. They’ll be price buyers that won’t care about you.
Good direct mail takes a lot of thought (and is quite fun) but aimed at adequately targeted prospects; the returns are potentially enormous.
What’s more, you can’t put a virus in an envelope…