Direct mail is dead? I keep hearing this, but I also look at stats from various campaigns and see that a combination of direct mail and email seems to get the best results. In fact with the overall drop in direct mail and the exponential increase in email we could argue that cut through and conversion of well thought out highly personalised direct mail could result in improved conversions in the coming year.
However, as the economic outlook continues to be uncertain for the UK I fear a number of companies will cut back their direct mail in favour of cheaper alternatives such as email and add to their overall woes.
It all comes back to multiple channel marketing. You need a good mix, and swapping your DM for email isn’t likely to cut it.
We’ve met with some very bright companies through 2009 that have cracked the personalisation of direct mail and created turnkey digital print and centralised distribution vehicles, and we’re gobsmacked that so few of the bigger direct marketing brands haven’t taken advantage of them.
Our worry is that generic poorly executed email marketing is going to really struggle to get cut through in 2010, and that it will become over used by both those who understand direct marketing techniques and even worse those that don’t.
In our client base we now only work with clients that supply opt-in lists from their own site subscribers, and even with well though out and relevant content the click through rates are rarely better than 15% with opens rates being in the low 30’s as an average. Deliverability is good, we use a well respected carrier for our delivery, but over the past 12 months we’ve seen a slight decline in opens rates and an uplift in unsubscribes.
Our approach to email marketing for clients has been to work hard on the creative to create standout work that has a clear call to action, either through to an incentivised landing page for e-commerce, often using a coupon to allow for overall tracking not just relying on the email or GA stats. Its the joined up approach that really makes the difference. If someone clicks through you then need to get them to do something, whether the goal is brand awareness, lead generation or an online sale.
In a lot of cases we are now developing not just online creative, but offline as well, utilising advanced digital print solutions for personalisation and pushing the mailer out 3-4 days prior to the email marketing campaigns starting. Make sure you use different coupon codes for the offline and online creative, or for lead gen different landing page urls, (keep ’em simple) and hone your analytics with a campaign filter to cut out all of the other noise. We also like to keep it simple and try to inject some personality into the campaign creative. Seems to be working well at the moment by providing differentiation.
At the end of the day, its all going to come back to commonsense. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Cut down on the print and postage to non-buying customers and poor prospects and use the money saved to test tracked email marketing creative to see if your customer base responds in the right way. If it doesn’t after several properly executed well timed campaigns you’ll need a real rethink.
The guys at 37 Signals in their new publication ‘rework’ have a great chapter about promotion, if you are working with a small advertising budget you should try their approach of building a following rather than throwing money at marketing tactics you can’t measure.
Oh and if you can’t measure it don’t do it.