Email or Direct Mail: Which is more effective?

Reaching prospects and customers today is more challenging than ever.

Diminishing attention spans and bright shiny thing distractions are forcing marketers to sharpen their marketing focus and find ways to effectively reach, and sell todays customers.

It’s not always easy to identify the most effective strategies and channels. 

For many marketers, email is an effective way to to generate leads and sales – especially when compared to social media

But using regular mail can be sneaky effective.

Here’s a glance at the pros and cons of email vs. direct mail that will help you figure out which is likely to be more effective in building your business.

Email: Whats Good

Email is inexpensive. That’s why so many business owners (and spammers) are attracted to it. Low response rates? They don’t care because the investment is negligible. With a large, opt-in list, email can’t be beat for low cost testing – without having to risk spending a fortune.

Email is immediate. You can whip up an email in no time. Come up with your offer, hit send and swoooosh….gone! Best part? Your message reaches your prospects’ inbox immediately. Results are instant. This gives you the ability to be a very flexible marketer.

Email is great for testing. Got a marketing question you want answered? Survey your list and get instant responses. Are you on point with that new ad? Reach out to prospects by email and you’ll know in an instant. Email generates fast answers!

Email offers instant delivery. You can provide immediate access to educational content you offer. Say you offer a free report or special guide with valuable information for your prospects. You can send them an email informing them of the offer and provide them with a link to the landing page where they can instantly download your offer. Not having to wait will get many prospects to click.

Email: Whats Not So Good

The email “jungle” is not marketer friendly. The spammers have made sorting through emails a frustrating, grueling task. Your prospects are using the “From” line to sort their emails and make the job easier. If you aren’t family, a friend or a colleague, it can be tough getting your emails opened.

Email messages must be brief. The minute a prospect senses they have to “work” to go through your email, you’re done. Email is all about speed and relevant information. Forget offers that need a lot of copy to make the sales case. You don’t have that option with email.

Email doesnt allow for visual creativity. The copy in your email must do all the heavy lifting – without boring your reader. And even if you try to “spice it up”, you’re limited. With many prospects using their phones to view messages, using HTML can be problematic.

Email lists are hard to find. Good ones, that is. Like many things internet, it’s buyer beware when dealing with list-brokers who promise you high quality “opt-in” lists. You can attract trouble fast and run afoul of the spam police if you aren’t careful.

Direct Mail: Whats Good

The equivalent of spam in the world of direct mail is “junk mail.” But junk mail is a lot less annoying. It only takes a second to pitch it into the circular file unlike spam, which requires some degree of evaluation.

Direct mail gives you the opportunity to tell a complete story. Think about it. In order to make a sale – you need to engage your prospects’ emotions and provide them with enough information to make a decision. A sales letter gives you that opportunity. An email doesn’t.

In direct mail, you can connectwith your prospect. In most cases, your selling message must tap into your prospect’s emotions. With a letter or flyer, you can excite, convince, prove, motivate, answer questions, make comparisons and generally, weave together a story. Emails don’t allow for that. In the email world, it’s ‘just the facts Ma’am’.

In direct mail, you can leverage the touchy, feelyelement. You can put stuff in your prospect’s hand. It gives you more selling ammunition. A colourful brochure. A testimonial one-pager where happy customers sing your praises. Product reviews. And, if your prospect isn’t ready to buy now, he can tuck it away for future reference. With email, your message is gone forever with a simple click.

Direct Mail: Whats Not So Good

The biggee? Direct mail can be expensive. Mailing costs are higher than ever. Then, you have to factor in the the cost for printing which isn’t cheap. Throw in list rental and letter-shop costs along with creative development, and you can see why many marketers avoid direct mail.

Your front-end costs are higher but, if you know how to create an effective message and have a clear understanding of your ideal target prospect, direct mail can be extremely cost effective.

Bottom Line

As you wade through the pros and cons listed above, you can see email and direct mail both have their advantages.

My thinking is that the “noise” online may get more marketers to take a serious look at testing direct mail as an effective marketing channel.

Direct mail has been and continues to be a proven money maker for marketers who have discovered the selling power of a sales letter or a self-mailer announcing a seminar invitation or software upgrade or any other promotion that needs a compelling selling story – which is just about anything outside of everyday items people use on a regular basis.  

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