The rise of email marketing is no secret. It’s not just the brands responsible for sending those emails that know that, we all do. Every day, email users are inundated with dozens (if not more) emails from marketing lists that you knowingly or unknowingly have subscribed to.
Interestingly, the surge of email from companies has actually transformed the way that people interpret the printed mail they receive. A study by Royal Mail found that 70% of consumers feel that they receive too many emails. In turn, printed mail is viewed as a more trusted and reliable source once again.
Research into this subject was conducted by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and Royal Mail. In the DMA’s study, they analyzed response rates and transactional data from marketing companies Bizo and Epsilon. Royal Mail conducted 18-month, in-depth investigation of consumer behavior and attitudes towards mail and other media.
Let's take a look at their key findings to compare the benefits and drawbacks of direct mail and email:
Evidently, there are strong benefits and drawbacks for each form of communication. Which is more memorable? Research by neuro-marketing firm TrueImpact found that brand recall for digital ads was just 44%, compared to 75% for direct mail.
Each method can lead to great results, particularly if executed well and chosen appropriately based on the content of the message.
Customers have expectations and preferences for which medium should deliver which message from businesses they connect with.
Although these may vary by industry or business case, we've categorized common messages that work well for printed mail and email.
Take note, a survey by Epsilon found that 59% of Americans and 66% of Canadians stated that they enjoy getting printed mail from brands about new products. For email, those numbers fall to 43% and 53% respectively. Furthermore, Royal Mail found that people value mail that they can touch 24% higher than mail they could only see.
That’s key. Any message that you share with customers says something about your brand. If the medium of your message affects the perceived value of you or your offer, it will influence purchase decisions as well.
In addition to the content of your message, there are other factors to consider when deciding whether to mail or email your customers.
Is the message time sensitive? Do you have a strict budget? Does your industry carry a print vs. digital expectation? Have your customers expressed a preference? How much time is needed for customers to comprehend the message? What data is important to track? How important is the message to customers? What action will customers take? Do you have a good mailing list?
Of course, there are many circumstances where a combination of direct mail and email is the best method.
Take the advertisement of a great promotion you’re offering, for example. On printed letterhead or postcards, you’re giving customers the time to check out the product imagery, consider the offer, and add it to the bulletin board to keep the promotion dates as a reminder. In emails, you’re instilling the message wherever they are, staying top of mind, and giving them a direct purchase path to your ecommerce site.
Company news, product launches, account updates – these are all opportune messages for a combination of direct mail and email.
Printed letters and business communications are far from obsolete. As research has shown, each of them hold incredible value, and that value isn't necessarily the same as it was 15 or 20 years ago. No matter what mix of direct mail and email you test, have measurement strategies in place and closely examine the results.
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