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Direct Mail’s Multi-Faceted Value Proposition

Direct Mail Delivers!

Marketing executives frequently say, “I’m going to do e-mail blasts. They’re cheaper than print.” While e-mail blasts may be cheaper, they might not be more cost-effective. In the end, the answer may not be print or e-mail, but the right combination of print and e-mail based on the relationship that the marketer has with a customer base. The basic facts are that direct mail delivers.

High-Value Customers Respond to Direct Mail

The USPS Household diary provides the most compelling statistic—household members read and respond to direct mail. Households with incomes above $100,000 report that they intend to respond to 2.2 pieces of advertising mail per week and that they may respond to another 3.6 pieces per week. While intended responses do not always equal actual responses, it is clear why direct mail is the number one choice of advertisers.

Figure: Weekly Number of Responses by Income
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What’s more, advertisers are using direct mail to promote new products or services; generate leads, sales, and orders; drive traffic to a store location or Web site; cultivate long-term relationships; and build brand recognition.

E-Mail Addresses Are Not Always Readily Available

While the Internet is viewed as cheaper, many people still aren’t comfortable providing e-mail addresses to the firms with which they do business. Depending on the clients business, e-mail capture rates can be as low as 20% for an existing customer base, which means that direct mail is the only alternative for delivering targeted offers and messages to 80% of clients. When developing campaigns, marketers must understand the quality of their e-mail lists as well as their direct mailing lists.

Sophisticated Tools Can Make the Difference

Cost per delivered message may be higher with direct mail versus digital media, but the sophistication of targeting tools can offset the cost difference. Existing customer and transaction data can be blended with psychographic and behavioral data to provide rich profiles of existing customers. This can be combined with geo-targeting for smaller businesses that serve only a local market, or even for larger businesses that need to target a product to a certain geographic market.

For customer acquisition campaigns, marketers can profile their best current clients and define pockets of buyers with similar traits. They can aggressively market to well-defined groups with similar attributes. By carefully monitoring results to existing customers as well as new prospects, future campaigns can be continually refined and improved.

Direct Mail is an Ideal Opportunity to Create “Warm” Prospects and Initiate a Dialogue

Marketers see direct mail pieces—postcards, letters, and brochures—as the best technique to initiate communications. The insight gained from sophisticated direct mail can be applied to online methods.

More and more frequently, marketers are providing unique URLs to continue the dialogue. The personalized URL links to a landing page that keeps the information flowing from the printed piece. The landing pages are giving marketers the ability to track specific customer interest levels and bridge suspects to the stickiness of their Web presence. If you can hold an audience, you can continue to market to them.

In addition, the same modeling and profiling tools used for direct mail can also be deployed for targeting online ad networks. Google and MSN’s IP-based geo targeting solutions create additional opportunities for marketers. Geo targeting within a pay-per-click (PPC) search engine means that the marketer can limit the scope of your advertising reach to a specific physical location. The search engines identify each searcher’s IP address (as provided by their Internet service provider) and can then deliver ads designated for their location. Data gathered in effective direct mail can support enhanced online efforts.

Direct Mail and Online Marketing – The Right Mix

While online marketing is an increasingly important part of the marketing mix, it doesn’t mean the death of direct mail. Targeted messages that deliver results will offer a combination of online marketing and direct mail as part of the integrated marketing mix.