When you work in direct mail, like I do, it means spending some time defending your business. I can’t tell you how often people tell me things such as, “I don’t ever buy things through mail,” “Big businesses don’t do that anymore,” and “But isn’t email more popular?”
It’s undeniable that technology has changed the direct marketing industry. However, it has not irreparably damaged direct mail marketing. To the contrary, direct mail has been enhanced by web technologies in many ways. Direct mail is great at getting leads to visit a webpage, encouraging customers to buy online or collecting information (including email addresses!) from prospects.
Rest assured that direct mail isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. To prove it, here are four reasons why you should use direct mail in place of email to get the best results.
1. Inbox overload
How many emails do you get a day? How many do you read a day? I would bet that the first answer is higher than the second. The fact is that most of us get many more emails than we want to read -- or are even capable of reading.
Our inboxes are overloaded with personal communication, updates, news and offers. While these may all be great, we don’t have the time or desire to click into each and every email. Many people don’t even sort through their emails daily. And that means your marketing message, and therefore the basis of your livelihood, might be sitting at the bottom of the “stack.”
So what happens to it? Well, when your prospects finally get around to their inbox they’re likely to just “Select All” and “Delete.” Say goodbye to any good your sales message might have done. Sending it was a waste.
Sure, you could argue that people throw away physical mail too, but the numbers are in favor of direct mail here. A study by Epsilon showed that 77 percent of consumers sort through their physical mail as soon as they get it. Even better, data from the U.S. Postal Service showed that 98 percent of people check their mail daily. That means a lot less “back up” in the physical mail box and a much better chance for your sales piece to get read.
Email might have changed the marketing environment for good, but you can use that change to your advantage. Let other businesses focus on email marketing. Let them sludge through the massive inbox overload that everyone is experiencing. In the meantime, there is not nearly as much competition in your standard mailbox -- and that’s where you should be aiming your sales messages.
2. The personal touch
Getting the letter past the garbage shoot is just the first step. You need your sales piece to connect with your customers on a personal level. Unless you plan to take up door-to-door sales, you’re not going to get any closer to your prospects than direct mail. With a strong sales piece, you will walk right into their home, sit down at their dining room table and pitch your product with expertise that only you can deliver.
You just can’t achieve those same results with an email. When your prospects are reading their email, they may have a dozen other things going on as well. They have notifications going off in the background letting them know 20 new emails just arrived in their inbox, or they have a new Facebook or Twitter post to look at. All the while, your email is like a tiny little voice, trying to peep in for some attention.
Does that sound like personal contact to you?
In the age of multitasking, computer users are by far the most distracted. And that’s one reason why unsolicited emails get such little attention. Direct mail is all about talking directly to your prospects. Direct mail allows you to step right into prospects' lives as soon as they open the piece. A strong sales piece meets your prospect’s train of thought and runs with it.
So take the chance to join your prospects at the table. Forget fighting for email space during a busy day and step in when they’re already taking a moment to themselves. Once they have your sales piece in their hand, it’s time to let the sales copy do its job.
3. Increased trust
With increased technology comes an increased concern for privacy. What with hackers constantly breaking into “secure” sites and identity theft being a real threat, people trust electronic communication less and less. Phishing scams are common and people do not trust attachments and links in an email. Sometimes, even images can get eaten up by the evil spam filter.
So how are you supposed to get your email to stand out? How are you supposed to impress your prospects? How can you “wow” them to the point where they simply must know more?
In short, you can’t.
You don’t get options with email. When your message drops into their inbox, you get a subject line or headline. That’s it. And you can use all the fancy tricks you want, keep up on the latest clickbait research, and split test until your head splits. But the fact is simple: Sometimes a headline just isn’t enough.
In addition, fancy emails with multiple attachments aren’t seen as trustworthy. People are suspicious and careful in the online world. This caution is entirely to the detriment of your sales message. In fact, even the simple words you write might be doubted. After all, you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet, right?
Direct mail is not faced with these same problems. You can “attach” as much as you want without setting off alarms. Bells and whistles of a fancy package are added bonuses instead of red flags. Consumers are bound to trust your direct mail sales piece more than they would a suspiciously fancy email.
4. Enhanced delivery
A direct mail piece has the opportunity to be much more impressive than a simple, bland email. While this is not always necessary (sometimes a straightforward postcard can suffice), it’s definitely nice to have so many options.
Here’s a good example: Around the holidays, I receive Christmas cards from my family across the country. As soon as I grab my stack of mail, I recognize them. They’re the ones with bright red or green envelopes. I would never dump that in the trash without looking at it! (I look for orange around Halloween, too.)
A lot of people have built-in cues like this for something special that signals to them that a mail piece is worth opening. You can duplicate these cues to give your mail piece a better chance of making it to the table. Colored envelopes are only one example. You can also use a “handwriting font” for the address to make your sales piece look like personal mail. Another option is to always use a live, physical stamp instead of indicia (which instantly says “mass mail advertising”).
Another great option for making your direct mail stand out is to use what we call a “lumpy mail” package. This is a type of three-dimensional mail piece that makes your prospect feel really special. Plus, it’s intriguing.
There are also dozens of envelope shapes, sizes and dimensions to pique curiosity instantly.
You can also include freebies in your packages that help promote your business while providing the recipient with a small gift. Pens, stickers and even coasters can all be printed with your business name and included in direct mail.
When was the last time you got a pen in an email? Oh, wait …
If you want to stand out to your prospects, you must do something different than what your competitors are doing. Everyone can send an email, but direct mail is something special these days. Not only that, research shows that direct mail connects with customers on a deeper emotional level and provides a much higher response rate.
So don’t ever let anyone tell you again that email has sunk the direct mail industry -- it’s just not true!