Reason 4: The Audience Doesn’t Want Email

This is an aspect that my example did successfully.  They made me proactively opt-in to get email rather than direct mail, however, many people don’t.  In the fervor to cut marketing costs some companies have switched all communications over to email, no exceptions.  I’ll ignore the obvious problem of that not being an opt-in list and go for the subtle one, who said the audience preferred email?

Sometimes email just isn’t right.  I sign up for many email communications but in some cases I prefer direct mail.  An example, my weekly circular ads, sure I can go online and virtually shuffle through sale ads but I like physically having it.  I don’t know why, I just do.  That is the case for many companies, coupons being a notable case.  Some people love getting paper coupons, cutting them out, and filing them away.  Somehow the effect is lost when they have to print them and then cut them out.  For some reason the extra step is perceived as a major inconvenience even if the coupons are easier to find.

The other problem with pulling the rug out on the direct mail recipients is that there are still computer illiterates and functionally illiterate.  Obviously this demographic depends on what the company offers.  Software vendors probably don’t have this problem but many companies do, especially product and service companies that sell to the general public.  Keeping direct mail alive with email campaigns allow companies to keep in touch with their clients that prefer, or need, the paper.

Reason 3: Direct Mail Is Still Working?

The most confusing benefit of direct mail that gets thrown aside when doing email is when direct mail is working.  Is delivering email cheaper than direct mail?  Of course and it can be a valuable way to cut costs.  However, it needs to be on the prospect’s terms not ours.  If the prospect is happy with the direct mail and you are tracking a gain on it, why stop doing it?

Usually the answer is we can optimize and get the best marketing return possible.  While I love the thought and support the initiative, trying to bump people to email unless they proactively request it is not a one-to-one switch.  Give them an opportunity to get email but don’t stop direct mail unless they want it stopped. Many times people have gotten used to direct mail and don’t have the same response to an email.  In this case we are flushing away engaged prospects.

Track your results and if direct mail is working, keep doing it.  It might not have as high an ROI as an email campaign but if you’re netting a profit from it, keep doing it.  Like anything else, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Reason 2: Mail and Email Provide More Prospect Detail

Email marketing and direct mail need different sets of information for execution.  Name and email address are a minimum for email.  Name and physical address are necessary for mail.  Of course, there is nothing stopping you from including a form on your website asking for addresses, company name, birth date, mother’s maiden name, etc.    However, there should be something stopping you, a desire to get people to actually fill out the form.

Using direct mail with email gives a natural platform to gain valuable information like an address or company name because people know it helps get the mail delivered.  When users don’t understand why someone is asking for information, they typically won’t give it.  When asking for the information seems reasonable and they understand what they are going to receive in return, they will fill out the form.  With the web and email forms, less is more. Meaning the less you ask for, the more people will fill it out.  Direct mail provides a natural extension to gain more information and providing a reasonable reason for needing it.  It also provides an added incentive for prospect’s to provide their valuable information.

Reason 1: Direct Mail can Support Email Marketing

The first reason that doing both direct mail and email is that one can, and should, support the other.  In the example of the postcard I got, I took note of the email option and acted on it.  Instead of making me choose email over direct mail, suppose the trend of acting online from the direct mail continued.  Future postcards could draw my attention to email only offers, online store offers, company announcements, releases, newsletters, etc.

The point is that part of marketing is how many times you meaningfully touch your target audience.  Doing email and direct mail allow for varied media that has the potential to resonate better with the prospect.  So if you have a few avenues to approach them, you increase your odds of them taking the next step.

7 Reasons Why Direct Mail Adds Value to an Email Marketing Campaign

I recently received a postcard promotion from my favorite bookstore with discount coupons. Just as I’m sure their marketing department was hoping, I filed the coupons away and was sure to visit the week they were valid (and did). The postcard also encouraged me to sign up for email messages. Of course believing in email promotion like I do, I was surprised I hadn’t already opted for that and quickly visited their website to correct that oversight. As I was signing up for their email promotions, it dawned on me that they were asking me to replace postcards with emails, not supplement what I was receiving. I ended up finishing the form to get the messages via email but was left thinking, what a wasted opportunity. Often times clients are in a hurry to replace their direct mailings with email. While I certainly see and advocate the cost efficiency and effectiveness of email, why stop doing a marketing activity if it is working?

In my coming posts I will lay out 7 reasons why direct mail and email can and should complement one another and how even when email carries a bulk of the marketing, direct mail is a valuable supplement.

SEO Needs a Foundation

There are major supporters of search engine optimization and a fair number of people that claim it’s web snake oil, nothing but smoke and mirrors to sap unsuspecting victims’ wallets. I think the latter stance is quickly losing ground as more and better SEO tactics place websites at the top of search engines and help generate traffic. However, there is one pitfall to all those wonderful SEO techniques. They need a solid foundation of content to be effective.

Typically people that discover SEO want to jump in headfirst and be at the top of search engines yesterday. To say nothing of the finesse necessary to optimize a site, jumping right in often doesn’t work because they don’t have a valuable site yet. It’s a cobbled together group of “common links” with little to no points of interest. Unless you want the site optimized for the key word “boring” some development probably has to precede SEO techniques. Content is always king and given a choice between the best optimizing techniques and good content on a site, I’ll take content every time. Start optimizing by putting some TLC into your site, update it, make it more interactive, and then use the fancy techniques because all the SEO in the world won’t make a bad site interesting.

 – Eric

Email Marketing Innovation: Does it Exist?

Innovation can take on a lot of meanings.  In the tech community it usually means the cutting edge, the newest thing.  When it comes to marketing online the cutting edge can be a great tool.  It can also be a quagmire that will halt your process because instead of creating and delivering a marketing campaign, energy is focused on revising everything to be state of the art. 

As an example people often want to begin email marketing by dissecting how many different groups they believe are necessary to make a customized message.  Segmentation is a valuable thing at the right point in the process but if someone only has 100 people to send to, making 10 categories and 10 customized topics probably isn’t worth the effort.  At that point, time is probably better spent picking up the phone and talking to each person.  Instead of trying to customize a newsletter, start one.  Its OK to start with a general topic because the group is so small it can serve as a sample audience.  As the list grows and you begin to measure what there is an audience for and what is tracking the best results, segmentation is a natural extension.  Segmenting small lists before getting started will make doing your email campaigns exponentially harder, resulting in more effort and/or more money.  The metrics won’t add up and soon the email campaign will be abandoned, a victim of trying to do too much too soon.  Take stock of what step in the process you are on, overcomplicating your campaigns will only cause frustration and overexertion.

– Eric

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