Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "Direct Mail Marketing Continues to Excel During COVID-19," examines the effectiveness of direct mail marketing overall and discusses why this tactic continues to be a force, especially in the age of COVID and all things digital. Direct mail marketing has enjoyed a resurgence long before the emergence of COVID-19. It turns out several demographic groups, particularly Millennials and Boomers, have demonstrated a propensity to experience tangible objects. In addition, these groups prefer personalized experiences. Further, and I might add, first and foremost, they crave trustworthiness. 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 more than likely be opened and read. That increases the likelihood that both engagement and response rates will improve in an otherwise crowded marketplace. Imagine if your physical mailbox were to contain more than 10,000 pieces of direct mail on any given day. The likelihood of that prospect opening that many pieces of mail would be 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 their success level to many media channels, including emails. 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.
Quote of the Day: "Increasingly, mass marketing is turning into a mass of niches." --Chris Anderson
Current State of Email Marketing
Understanding that mass appeal has given way to niche subset groups is critical to consider before running a direct mail marketing campaign. The ability to locate your niche market and successfully target that niche is a significant key to unlocking success.
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 distinguish 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 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 opening 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 ranks 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. However, it also contributes to the onslaught of emails that recipients receive, and to that end, it is yet another reason why the world is overwhelmed with emails. Therefore the question looms, "How can a brand or marketer get their email communications opened within a sea of millions?
Conversely, in all those deepwater 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%, consider what the 0.1% represents in that large email ocean. Let's place the 0.1% open email rate into perspective, using a basic marketing formula. Let' say that a brand plans to target 1 million over the course of a year.
Note: We contend that some email open rate data reports suggest email open rates could range as high as 40+%. However, many of those report claims are unclear if other marketing methods were in play other than email marketing. On average, one million targets receive an annual allotment of 24,700 email blasts over a span of 52 business weeks or 260 days and 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 deepwater 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 are their ability to stand out in a sea of email posts, where their email is opened and generates a click-through based on the call-to-action. Some astute marketers state that those who have claim to rely solely on email marketing run the risk of being swallowed up and having their brand and products deemed indiscernible from competitors.
Direct Mail Production Challenges
For starters, direct mail open rates exceed that of emails at a 3.7% clip. 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 realize how to reduce direct mail costs by seeking 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, they 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, while the shortcomings recede, if not disappear entirely. Further, and thanks to recent updates in direct mail technological advances, 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 achieving an omnichannel strategy that merges direct mail marketing with email marketing, the concept is more about creating a customer experience between both disciplines versus marketing everywhere. 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 coexist and provide added value for one another.
For example, an automated email drip campaign, an old school tactic, can 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. One can design multiple marketing strategies that pair direct mail with email, with one leading and the other following 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.
As we finish the year 2020, direct mail marketing remains particularly significant in the Coronavirus age. 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, "Direct Mail Marketing Continues to Excel During COVID-19."
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