As a kid I never really got sent any post which was always upsetting. I didn’t know full well that when you get older you actually DREAD some letters coming through the front door. Back then, I was also far too young to have an email address. But naturally, as an adult I’m now bombarded with emails and letters, with every piece trying desperately to grab my attention!
Yet while many people assume the emergence of digital marketing will gradually kill off direct mail marketing, the two forms are both very much alive and kicking – and still very much bombarding us. If you don’t believe me, just have a look down at your Home Sweet Home doormat after you’ve been away for a week, or open your email inbox after you’ve been off the Wi-Fi grid for a couple of days.
So it’s important to take a step back and examine the pros and cons of both of these marketing channels, in a stern e-shot head-to-head!
Email marketing is renowned for its clever ability to target subscribers based on a variety of specifications. Once you have gathered certain information from subscribers – ideally via a form they complete when signing up for your emails – it couldn’t be easier to segment contacts and target certain people with relevant messages to increase the chance that they’ll be interested in your products.
Having said that, just because direct mail marketing is considered more archaic than digital marketing, that doesn’t mean you can’t target your customers. To begin with, you can obviously target people easily and accurately by geographical location, as well as the same criteria as a targeted email marketing campaign – gender, age etc.
The one drawback to the direct mail method is that segmenting your contacts by set variables is always going to be slightly more painstaking than using email marketing software’s specially designed tools. Also, gathering extra information on your subscribers’ preferences and habits is a far more complicated process than emailing out a brief survey or asking users to update their details.
Direct Mail: 7/10
Statistics and Reports
With direct mail your company’s return on investment will be £4.60 for every £1 spent, on average. This is a gigantic £17.40 difference from the average email marketing return, which is an amazing £22 for every pound you invest. What’s more, with email marketing your ROI is far more easily measured – whereas with direct mail it borders on impossible to accurately gauge the numbers.
This is because when it comes to statistics and reports, email marketing undoubtedly triumphs direct mail by a mile. Immediately after sending a campaign you can plainly see percentages and digestible figures documenting its performance, from open rates to undelivered messages to the rate of subscribers who have clicked links through to your site. Even browse details as minute as which links were specifically clicked and by how many people, made especially easy by tools that many email services provide; such as e-shot’s intelligent heatmaps.
With direct mail marketing you’re essentially posting out a campaign and then left in the dark as to its reception and performance. In a way, this means direct mail marketing is similar to content marketing; it’s about playing the long-game, building brand recognition and laying foundations rather than hoping for instant results or being able to judge how things have gone.
Having said that, one possible way of making the response to direct mail marketing measureable is by including a voucher code that’s redeemable online. When the code is used returns can gradually be calculated. Similarly, if direct mail marketing is being carried out using catalogues then the campaign may be assessed from purchases made that way. Although
physical catalogues are costly to produce and send out, which isn’t a factor that email marketers have to worry about when they simply provide links to an online shop or buyable product range.
Direct Mail: 3/10
Time and Effort
The process of creating and email campaign can take time as it is designed in a way to increase the amount of engagement it will have on the subscriber. Tests after tests will be done; trialling certain things like subject lines, the positions of call to action links and the content itself, before finally the best performing version of the email will be sent en mass. Although this process may be laborious and protracted, sending the message directly to thousands of subscribers takes no time at all.
Creating a direct mail campaign may take the same time – if not a little more – than an email campaign. However, what differs the most is that the direct mail campaign may have to wait for several days before the letter or package has even dropped on a single person’s doorstep. Yet when a lot more time and energy has gone into the process of creating the letter, it should hopefully produce a more inventive direct mail campaign – one that easily dwarfs even the most original email marketing design.
Direct Mail: 6/10
Design is a big part for both email marketing and direct marketing as it has a big effect on user engagement. How will the subscriber react and what is the next action the subscriber will take? Both marketing forms do it in fairly similar ways, but as we’re firmly in the digital age it’s important to ask; does email marketing have the edge over direct mail?
Direct mail can use any medium to display its content, being completely open to any design ideas brought to the table. Its limitations are only that it has to be able to go through a letter box. Graphic Designers can let loose and let their creativity run wild. This makes direct mail so much more exciting to wait for, and, if you’re anything like me, something that you receive in the post that looks amazing is going to be kept for its shear ‘awesomeness’!
Grabbing someone’s attention is the first and sometimes hardest marketing battle to win, especially while other loud and eye-popping direct mail campaigns are all fighting to do the same. But once you have their undivided attention, it’s time to let your content speak.
Many car companies benefit from direct marketing with 46% of adults looking to buy a new car respond to a direct marketing campaign with 70% of adults more likely to make a purchase.
The compelling BMW mail pictured allows the reader to engage and interact with the letter and it’s designed in a way that it’s fun and enjoyable – tearing to open does more than simply shred the envelope. Interaction with direct mail is a powerful tool to get your recipient to read the content. Inside, the text itself is kept short and sweet and for more detail you can dive into the booklet provided. Check out some more cool and interesteing mail here. [http://designshack.net/articles/business-articles/12-brilliant-direct-marketing-pieces-you-have-to-see/]
With email marketing, the process of creating the email seems to be “old fashioned”! Creating an email design is still basic HTML coding, where everything is static and stuck in tables. Then, while designing an email there are certain guidelines that have to be followed to make sure it’s been received by your subscribers’ inbox rather than their junk folder, not to mention that you will have to design and cater to all email clients as they render your email differently, which sometimes makes your email look like a Picasso painting.
It is also hard to get your subscribers’ attention with an email because it’s not the design that will entice them to click open, but instead it will be the subject line. It seems that email marketing has quite a few limitations. However, once you get past these barriers then email marketing can be a thing of beauty.
Read More - Email Design: Capturing My Undivided Attention
Email design is a challenge for all designers, as it has strict guidelines that need to be followed to get the best engagement and to ensure the messages appear properly on all browsers and devices. But designers are not disheartened by this fact, instead striding to create a thing of beauty within these limitations. There are so many things that digital design allows designers to do. With all of the digital platforms at your fingertips, email design has be powerful tools to increase its engagement.
Images and words can be used as a link allowing you to divert subscribers to a particular website or landing page, using the email as a portal to other digital content.
The first call to action that can be seen is the video link to an interview. In email marketing a link to a video will increase an email click through rate by 15%! The design is well laid out with not too much going on, allowing you to wander the page without being distracted. There are many ways to engage with the email as there are links to particular pages and also links to their social media pages which is a great way to convert them to a follower – if they’re not so already.
Engaging with the email is easy and simple, not needing to move from your spot, all you need is to click the call to action – unlike a letter where you may have to find your phone to ring up or turn your computer on to visit a website and follow instructions.
The Future Email Design.
More and more people are reading emails on the move with their smart phones or tablets. With Wi-Fi in most stores and a lot of public spaces, email is becoming easier to check almost anywhere. We are already seeing responsive templates being used to create better engagement with emails on smart devices. But in the future we could see more and more things added that will make marketers excited. In the short term we could well see videos in emails very soon.
Direct Mail: 8/10
It’s safe to say that both marketing channels still packs a punch. But one clearly stands out the most.
Targeting subscribers and the time and effort to create a campaign are near enough tied between the two.
However, with the design direct marketing wins, blow by blow. As it has less limitations than email marketing the possibilities are endless. Even though it dominates over email in this respect, it’s hard to predict how much impact direct mail has, whereas with email can show you which part of the design was successful with full statistics like who has viewed and even clicked within the email.
Including all of the other doggedly fought rounds, email marketing has emerged as the winner by a unanimous decision!
Direct Mail: 25/40
From a marketing perspective, after all of this choosing email should be a no brainer. With reports and statistics you are able see the performance of all of your email marketing efforts with every campaign sent. You will also see what worked well and what didn’t, allowing you to alter your strategy to and improve your campaign for the next time round. Direct mail’s advantages with design landed some good hits in this bout, but email marketing rolled with the punches and came out on top in all other respects.