Choosing between Email and Direct Mail

You have decided to become more active with your marketing and carry out some direct marketing of your business. That is great news, so what method are you going to use?

Principally the choice for most small businesses is going to be between email and some form of direct mail. When making this choice it is important to understand that both methods are effective in different ways and using one instead of the other is not always the best decision.

Regardless of which method you end up using it is really important that your message or promotional offer is well thought out, effectively written and appropriately shaped for the audience receiving it. Make sure you use engaging content that is supported by good design layout.

Another key issue for direct marketing is the quality of your target audience data or the target list you are using. How much do you really know about the receivers of your message? How old is the data and can you separate out the different types of potential customers on the list? Your message must be both timely and relevant. Get this aspect of your communication wrong and your results will be poor.

Choosing Email marketing

While Email is a very cost effective form of Direct Marketing for sending brief messages, special offers, newsletters and customer confirmations. The key to a successful Email campaign comes from sound planning, a well-crafted message and accurate customer data.

10 characteristics of Email marketing

+ Positive
+ Cost can be very economical
+ You can obtain real-time response and feedback
+ Effective for simple or short messages, follow -up messages and reminders
+ Provides response tracking and engagement measurement
+ Content can be tailored specifically for a small number of potential customers
+ Increasingly email is becoming mobile
+ Allows digital creativity and interactivity

- Negative
- Inbox clutter and email spam – easy to delete before content is read
- Different Email browsers can affect the way content is viewed or change its format
- Email communication is low value, less tactile and can be impersonal

Choosing Direct Mail marketing

The core strength of Direct Mail is its ability to build customer relationships by communicating professional, comprehensive or premium messages. While you may not have a prospective customers email address you often have their physical mail address. Again the key to a successful Direct Mail campaign comes from sound planning, a well-crafted message and accurate customer data.

10 characteristics of direct mail marketing

 + Positive
+ Content can be designed specifically for a type of customer
+ Mail is tangible and can be multi-sensory
+ Mail can offer a range of creative engaging design options
+ You can established how many households received the message
+ Most people have a mail box and the data is available
+ The reader can carry it with them
+ Mail is complimentary with other forms of marketing activity

- Negative
- Mail can be buried in an in-tray
- More difficult to generate quick online actions and share digital links
- Can be expensive depending on creative, print and delivery costs

Choosing the right mail type

The choice of which mail marketing format is right for you is dependent on the level of customer data you hold and how you want your customer to receive the mailer.

Addressed Direct Mail, is an effective form of personal communication when you have access to prospective customer names and addresses. This mail is usually delivered by a NZ Postie.

Unaddressed Mail, is appropriate for targeting postal areas that fit your potential customer’s demographic profile when you don’t have the specific names. These mailings can have the same engaging content and design as personalised mail and are also delivered by a NZ Postie.

Mail Drops, are a cost effective way of getting your flyer or brochure delivered to a geographic postal area. This method of communication is often used for promotional advertising and is delivered by a flyer delivery company with other promotional material.

Consider combining mail and email for best marketing effect

Using Direct Mail with Email together as part of an integrated Direct Marketing campaign has been shown by research to increase the comprehension and impact of an offer. Combining both methods also allows you to utilise the best characteristics of each format and helps to establish credibility and build awareness.

In order to combine methods you will need to have both email and mail contact details for your target audience. You will also need to have your support materials ready which could include a website with relevant content, pdf brochure or document, printed brochure, DLE or insert, case studies or client testimonials.

Marketing campaign example

Below is a sample campaign for your reference so you can see how the elements work together. It is important to note that the type of campaign and supporting materials you use will depend largely on the sales or transactional value of each prospect customer. The time and money spent on the campaign to achieve a set number of sales or the cost of acquisition (= campaign cost/number of sales) is an important KPI to establish.

Developing an acceptable acquisition cost at the outset allows you to work out your business case in order to know how much you can afford to spend on acquiring each new customer.

Campaign example – sales value of customer $55,000

Week 1 Direct mailer
-Personalised letter on company letterhead – will potentially contain an offer or call to action.
-Package with relevant book included (book reinforces message and adds value – good for follow up).
-Business card included.

Week 2 Email
- Follow up email sent referring to prior mail piece (remove those that have already contacted you)
- Email links to website and contact details
- Attached pdf with case studies or client testimonials
NB. By sending the mail piece first you have established a relationship with the prospect and comply with email spam rules.

Week 3 Sales follow up call
- Contact the prospective customer for feedback and possible sale or agreed next step.
You will contact those prospects that have not already replied to you in a prior step.
- Can send another supporting email with additional information or customised information to support your call.

The number of steps in the sales process will depend on sales value and risk levels in purchase and could take multiple steps.

Marketing campaign information

Revenue target = $5,500,000
Customer value = $55,000
100 new customers required
Can spend up to $400 to acquire each customer based on revenue model
Target list, 1000 prospects (qualified and segmented)
This assumes a 10% conversion is attainable (this will vary with industry and product/service)

Cost of Acquisition

Data =$1,200
Email =$1,600
Mail =$25,000 (includes $20,000 worth of books)
Sales calls =$3,000
Website content =$500
Campaign management =$2,000

Total campaign cost =$33,300
Sales results =98 new customers

Acquisition cost per prospect = $339.79