Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes we can make in a hi-tech world is to totally leave behind other, more traditional ways of doing business and the many forms of marketing in practice before the advent of technology. This would include such things as direct marketing mail in all its forms. If you are contemplating launching a direct mail marketing campaign but are reluctant because you are not sure that people actually read hard copy mail anymore, the following information might prove helpful.
A Brief Definition of Direct Mail Marketing
As the name would imply, direct mail marketing is just that. It is mail that goes directly to consumers through traditional channels. This could be:
- Postcards via USPS
- Advertising brochures in packages
- Mailing lists
- Lead letters
Each of these are still in use today and whether or not they are effective depends on a number of things. However, with that said, there are ways to ensure that the direct mailers get to the people or organizations they are intended to reach.
If a Tree Falls in the Forest…
This is an old philosophical conundrum that people have been debating for an untold number of years. The most acceptable answer is that although the tree falls causing a vibration that would result in sound if you were there to hear it, sound implies a receiver. If there is no creature there to ‘hear’ those vibrations, it’s not sound. It’s vibration within the range of sound-producing vibrations.
This analogy works well when trying to determine how effective direct mail marketing is. Unless the mailer reaches the intended audience, how effective can it really be? Therefore, it is first necessary to verify addresses to ensure the intended recipients (receivers) get the mailer. There are apps for that which have proven to be extremely effective. To learn more about what they are and how they work, check out Lob’s intro to address verification API. This is an interesting read in that it tells you about Lob’s services as well. Not only is there an app to verify addresses, but ‘Lob’ is an app within an app that allows the user to communicate with the app. How handy is that?
Direct Mail Marketing: The Metrics
While each and every direct mail marketing strategy carries its own metrics, it helps to learn just how effective this type of marketing campaign typically is. You ‘could’ always choose to survey hundreds of businesses who have employed this marketing strategy within all industries for a broad spectrum set of metrics. Also, you could choose to research metrics within your direct competition as well as within your industry. The metrics you are looking for will give you a better idea of just how effective this strategy is and with the right API you can pull metrics from each of those categories to assess just how effective you can expect direct mail marketing to be for your company, in your market or just in general. The metrics you would pull include:
- Response rate
- Revenue per piece
- ROI (talk about the formula)
- Time invested
Then that address verification API could also add the metric of how many intended recipients got their mailers, or didn’t, based on the address to which that mailer had been sent. It all adds up to give you fairly accurate numbers to crunch.
Those are the metrics that will indicate how effective that strategy is. The response rate determines the efficacy in terms of how many responses were received, whether they bought or not. It’s about a call to action just like in digital marketing and something that can be improved upon if deals weren’t closed. It then means that analysts need to determine why. If they showed an interest, perhaps a better closer or closing process is needed.
This is where the fun begins. Once a direct mail marketing campaign is over, the total revenue is divided by the number of sales so that the ‘revenue per piece’ metric can be calculated. At that point, analysts start looking at the Return on Investment into the campaign. Here is the formula for calculating ROI:
(Total Revenue – Total Cost) / (Total Cost)
This is the number to look at when trying to determine if the return on your direct mail marketing campaign was successful. Was your ROI high enough to have made the time, cost, and effort worthwhile? Did you reach any level of profit? If not, why? Once again, this is the time to dig deeper to see what worked, what didn’t, and how to make improvements the next time around.
No matter what you’ve heard or what you think of ‘antiquated’ marketing strategies, there must be something still to be said about the efficacy of direct mail marketing. Businesses large and small, especially multi-national corporations are investing billions of dollars annually into this marketing strategy and if it weren’t effective, they wouldn’t invest over and over and over again. While this strategy is most effective with older adults such as those representing Boomers and Gen Xers, marketing professionals also use direct mail marketing as part of an omni-channel approach. This is where there is another intersection of technology and traditional forms of marketing. Not only do they use technology such as digital marketing in Google ads, content, and videos among other forms of digital marketing strategies, but they will combine those efforts with direct mail marketing to cover all their bases.
It is understandable why businesses might be leery of investing in what has been coined ‘snail mail’ because few people even send Christmas cards anymore. Most communications are now digital, so their apprehension makes sense. However, according to Investopedia, the United States Postal Service generates a huge income stream from direct mail marketing. In 2019 the number of pieces of mail they delivered totaled more than 143 billion. So, if companies are still investing this amount of money, it must be working.