Sure, people still receive mail — but that does not mean that direct mail campaigns are as effective as they used to be. Businesses can spend more than $167 per recipient of their direct mail campaigns, and though open rates for direct mail can be as high as 90 percent, less than half of all recipients bother to read more than the first line or two of the advertisements they find in their mailbox. Ultimately, business leaders need to be realistic about the fact that their carefully crafted mailer is always going to end up in the trash.
Direct mail feels personal, but it isn’t particularly effective at compelling consumers to engage with a product or brand. So, what can you do instead? Here are a few marketing options that might be better than direct mail at achieving your business goals:
Email has been replacing postal mail for more than half a century. Thanks to the introduction of Gmail and the expectation for all but unlimited inbox space, email has become one of the most dominant forms of communication in essentially every sphere — personal, professional and commercial. Research shows that consumers check their email inboxes every 15 minutes on average, so despite receiving as many as dozens of emails per day, a consumer is likely to see and interact with marketing messages sent via email. When email marketing campaigns are properly structured, they can create some of the most reliable and most lucrative engagement from consumers, which cannot be said of direct mail campaigns.
Social Media Marketing
Another type of digital marketing campaign that most every business leader will recognize, social media marketing leverages the power of social media websites, like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, to create engagement and loyalty amongst a company’s consumer audience. While social media marketing is often touted as a free marketing strategy, the time and energy most businesses dedicate to attaining visibility on social media sites does carry a cost. Still, roughly 93 percent of business marketers around the world use social media, demonstrating its importance for remaining relevant in the Digital Age.
Texting is rapidly overtaking voice calls as the preferred communication form on mobile phones. SMS messages allow for more convenience, as both senders and recipients can read and respond to messages at their leisure. For businesses, texting campaigns are more effective than email and social media, according to consumers, because texts feel like personal, two-way conversations with a beloved brand. As long as you receive consent from consumers before reaching out via SMS and as long as you send the right messages at the right times, you should see positive attention from customers, which you might never receive from a direct mail campaign.
Mass Market Ads
A single direct mailer could cost a company over $100, while a single online advertisement could cost less than a penny. Mass market ads strive to distribute marketing messages to as wide an audience as possible, and online, that audience could number in the millions. Thanks to the increasing use of artificial intelligence in online advertising, the ads you place on sites like Facebook or Google are more likely to reach consumers who are already interested in your products and ready to buy. While some direct mail campaigns can target previous customers or clients who have expressed some interest in your industry or product, the truth is you can’t be as certain about your mailer’s effectiveness as you can be about your mass market ad.
One of the most common reasons companies engage in direct mail campaigns is that they have an exciting announcement that they want to share with their audience — a new product, a limited-time sale, etc. Yet, a more effective way of spreading the news is via press release: a marketing message aimed at journalists covering your industry. Press releases can be published online, where consumers have access to them, but their positioning toward the media helps facilitate broader coverage of company events. Plus, you can track engagement with your press releases online, whereas you have no clear means of determining the impact of your direct mail campaign.
If you love sending out mail, you don’t have to stop. However, you should augment your business marketing efforts with a few of the above strategies, which are more likely to provide the engagement and success you crave.