Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "Why Direct Mail Marketing is Still Effective," examines the effectiveness of the tactic overall, and why it continues to be a force, not only in the age of the coronavirus but also in the age of all things digital. For the past few years, direct mail marketing has enjoyed a resurgence. It turns out that people, especially Millennials and boomers, like to experience tangible objects. They prefer a personalized experience. And, they crave the truth. While we can't guarantee that every direct mail offer is legit, we can say that any offer that lands in a mailbox and has the recipient's name on the envelope, will likely be opened and read. That's a powerful statement in an otherwise crowded marketplace.
Imagine that your physical mailbox contains more than 10,000 direct mail pieces on any given day. The likelihood of that prospect coming to fruition is next to impossible given the notion that direct mail tends to be an afterthought. Since the marketing waters have become increasingly overcrowded, consumers are overwhelmed with the onslaught of 4,000 to 10,000 daily messages, depending on the person's access level to a plethora of media channels.
Therefore, marketers and brands increasingly pursue how to gain more traction from their marketing efforts. Email marketing may be affordable, but it is also a messaging tactic offender, nevertheless; email marketing continues to be a useful tool when used correctly.
Current State of Email Marketing
Many marketers are aware of the drop in open email rates, and one distinct area points to the number of emails a single consumer receives with their daily cup of java. Would you believe that in 2018, on average, a person is likely to receive at least 95 emails per day? Let's put those 95 emails per day into perspective. That's 34,675 emails per calendar year, or 24,700 using five day business weeks per year. Who has time to read 24,700 emails in a year, let alone 34,765? Overkill for some reason is an understatement at this juncture.
To present the case for direct mail marketing and its ability to increase response rates, we make the distinction that open email rates and click-through rates are different. When an email recipient opens an email that is the first step in the sales funnel, the second step is known as the click-through rate which happens when the email recipient clicks the call-to-action link. Click-throughs are the first step in responding to an email marketing initiative. However, the recipient must purchase for the conversion rate to occur.
Conversion rates are the ultimate goal for any brand selling products or services. Similar to open email rates and click-through rates, conversion rates vary according to the industry first, the offer second, and of course the competitive product market value. For the sake of brevity, conversion rate analyses present a plethora of determinations impacting many industries, including messaging, timing, marketshare, product relevance and personalization aspects. Therefore, this post refers to response rates, as being the opening of an email and then clicking on the call-to-action.
Direct Mail ROI Ranks in Top 3
Would it surprise you to learn that direct mail provides more bang for the buck over and above paid search and online display ads? Direct mail's median ROI is 29%, placing just behind email and social media marketing. Note that social media eclipses direct mail by a single percentage point. While direct mail ROI places third at 29%, it is above paid search with an ROI of 23% and online display with an ROI of 16%. So, would you rather have a 16% increase, a 23% increase, or a 29% increase?
In 2016, The Data & Marketing Association reported that the direct mail customer response rate demonstrated a 43% increase. Moreover, the prospect response rate increased by a whopping 190% compared to 2015. As more and more digitally-based communication tools such as email marketing increases, so will the need for brands to increase response rates. Thanks to automated email tools, the time it takes to set up and send emails has become less burdensome, but also contributes to the onslaught of emails that recipients are grappling with, and to that end, is yet another reason why the email world is overwhelmed. Therefore the question now looms, "How can a brand or marketer get their email communications opened within a sea of millions?
Conversely, in all those deep water email tsunamis, email response rates continue to hold a high response rate once the recipient clicks. Depending on the brand, the product, the offer, the correctly identified targets, and of course whether or not the brand has created personas for their targets, the fate of those email response rates is in part dependent on those critical parameters. In the world of big data, averages represent benchmarks that marketing strategists take into consideration when deliberating goals, ROI and budgets. Therefore, when one assesses the average open rate of emails at 0.1%, care should be taken to consider what the 0.1% represents in that large email ocean. To place a 0.1% open email rate into perspective, let's apply a basic marketing formula. Let's say that a brand is looking to target 1 million over the course of a year.
Note: We contend there a number of email open rate data reports that suggest email open rates could range as high as 40+%. However, many of those report claims are unclear as to what other marketing methods mayh ave been used other than just email marketing. One million targets, who on average receive an annual dose of 24,700 email blasts over a span of 52 business weeks or 260 days, collectively receive 24,700,000,000 emails (that's billions!). Now apply the 0.1% email open rate average, and you get 24,700,000 opened emails. That's a ton of deep-water lobsters! You can use that formula or a more specific one to understand what's at stake with email marketing and it boils down to a numbers game.However, the challenges brands and marketers face is their ability to stand out in a sea of email posts, where their email is not only opened but in fact, generates a click through based on the call-to-action. Some astute marketers state that those who have made their claim relying solely on email marketing run the risk of being swallowed up and having their brand and products deemed indecipherable from their competitors.
Direct Mail Production Challenges
For starters, direct mail open rates exceed that of emails at a 3.7% clip. So while that may sound exciting, before one can make direct mail collateral production viable and affordable, brands and marketers should look to organizations that have forgone manual tools and replaced them with tech stacks that use automation and CRM systems. Amalgamating direct mail manual production tools into smart tool suites provides these systems with an intercommunication process that reduces time, resources and costs. More and more brands and marketers are realizing how to reduce direct mail costs by seeking out commercial printers that have invested in the right hardware and software to streamline the direct mail process.
Consumer Spending Trends - Email Versus Direct Mail
In the event you are unaware, recent reports and newly collected data all point to direct mail recipients increased spending habits. When direct mail recipients receive an email as part of the marketing strategy, those recipients spend on average 25% more in terms of spending. 25% more! If you benchmark the average annual returns of 3-to-4%, one can see the significant role direct mail plays in the spend uplift. One may ask how or why this occurs. The only way to explain it is that emails can be clutter bombs. While direct mail is not because our physical mailboxes don't contain more than 98 pieces of communications daily, that's why direct mail can cut through the clutter because, for the most part, there is none!
Therefore, merging direct mail marketing with email marketing is a no brainer. Each discipline contains strengths and weaknesses, and when used in tandem with each other, the advantages multiply, and the weaknesses recede, if not disappear entirely. Further, and thanks to recent updates in direct mail technological advances, both direct mail and email automation processes can align for a seamless, integrated fit, thus providing marketers with more effective and better tactics including reduced time, resources and spending
Omnichannel Email and Direct Mail Tactics
In the context of achieving an omnichannel strategy when it comes to merging direct mail marketing with email marketing, it is not so much as a marketing everywhere concept, although some brands can achieve that prospect; moreover, it is about creating an omnichannel customer experience between both disciplines. Automated tools are now available for both direct mail and email which presents an interesting perspective. With automation driving the marketing bus, there are several possibilities in which the two disciplines not only coexist but also provide added value for one another.
For example, an automated email drip campaign which is an old school tactic can be used to stimulate engagement, convert new prospects, nurture leads and build client relationships effectively. According to Sigma Marketing Insights, email letters and postcards automatically sync to the email drip campaigns, as both email and direct mail can operate within automated sequences.
Thanks again to automated processes, we can now accurately track both email and direct mail. With the addition of CRM integration, brands can deliver well-timed personalized emails and direct mail that can extend the offer with timely messaging. There are so many marketing strategies that can be designed by pairing direct mail with email, with one leading and the other following up and vice versa. The limitations are only present in the face of a lack of creative thinking, as the sky is the limit here, or should we say a great way to avoid an email tsunami is to pair the surge with direct mail marketing.
Moving forward, direct mail marketing is even more significant in the age of the Coronavirus. Marketers can merge direct mail and email synergies into a powerful omnichannel platform, by either sidestepping or directing targets to digital destinations. By joining the two disciplines, marketers can ensure that customers and prospects enjoy a meaningful and engaging experience, thus lifting brand equity and ROI to improved levels, even in a pandemic. Thank you for reading "Why Direct Mail Marketing is Still Effective."
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