Recently I came across a blog post which stated that direct mail tends "to go straight into people’s trash" and is "a waste of money." The blog post went on to advise marketers to focus on email marketing instead. Now I don't want to suggest that there's anything wrong with email marketing - it's a channel that we support here at Media Source Solutions and our clients have seen a lot of success in their email campaigns. And certainly it's true that per contact reached, direct mail campaigns will cost more than an email campaign.
But surely we shouldn't make things so simplistic and disregard an entire marketing channel, without even considering the purpose of the campaign, the industry the brand works in and the type of audience the brand wants to reach. I am very much a firm believer that every channel has its purpose and the skill of the marketer is to pick and choose which channel will prove effective in their upcoming campaign. Having assisted many marketers over the years with targeted data for their multichannel marketing campaigns, these are some of the nuggets of wisdom I've picked up along the way:
I think it was back in the late 90s when dot coms were all the rage that the phrase "direct mail is dead" started to be uttered from marketers' lips. Email was the new fashion - Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks were at it after all - and the days of direct mail looked numbered. Ironically, email was also the saviour of direct mail. In the early 2000s, as email inboxes flooded and people's physical mail boxes remained on the whole empty, marketers began to see an interesting trend - direct mail campaigns were performing.
Email for most marketers has now become the norm, to the extent that, receiving something through the post can be a great way to grab people's attention. For some industries, it can also be a way to show you care. For example in B2B, yes, some lower-tier clients may only receive an email, whilst for top-tier clients, marketers may prefer a more personal touch with direct mail. The same could be said for brands in the luxury sphere.
As well as considering the industry, marketers should consider the demographics of the audience they're trying to target. For example, consumers over the age of 65 are much more likely to respond well to a direct mail campaign. A study (https://aging.jmir.org/2019/1/e12243/) showed that seniors still prefer print communications even if they are becoming more comfortable with digital content. At Media Source Solutions, we've seen evidence of this firsthand when a direct marketing company approached us, looking to source a data file of consumers aged 45+ with an income of less $40K for a direct mail customer acquisition campaign. The campaign achieved a 3% conversion rate and due to the excellent results produced, the company continues to use our direct mail data for their campaigns.
If I've given the impression that I'm averse to email marketing up until this point, I promise that is not the case! But it is frustrating to see email being used as a catch-all marketing channel by some marketers, with no thought as to whether it's appropriate for the audience or the campaign objective. And of course, the more we abuse email marketing, the tougher the anti-SPAM rules will become, and the more difficult it will be to use this cost-effective and performing channel.
One of the reasons why email is so ubiquitous on the marketing plan is that it can be used at all stages of the funnel: from building brand awareness, to nurturing leads and obtaining prospects, to generating sales. For this reason, it's perhaps best to consider when email marketing doesn't make sense for your campaign:
1. You have a huge number of cold prospects you want to reach and your list isn't segmented.
While high volume email is possible, it requires help from a specialized email service provider - Mailchimp won't suffice. In addition, working with a large amount of data that hasn't been segmented is unlikely to result in the performance you would be looking for. High-volume email data is something we support our clients with but we would always recommend being as targeted as possible. If the client shares their campaign objective with us, we can also use behavioral targeting to ensure the consumer or business emails we provide have taken a similar action to their campaign objective recently, e.g. submitted a form.
2. You want to run a campaign to prospects but you only have their email address and no other data.
Obviously, it's possible to still run an email campaign in this instance but you may well find it doesn't perform as well as you'd like. Email generally always generates higher engagement rates when marketers have enough data in order to personalize the email to the user. For example, something as simple as including the audience's first name in the subject line can increase the open rate by 26% according to Campaign Monitor. In addition a study by Experian showed personalized emails deliver 6x higher transactional rates.
If you do find yourself in the situation where you want to run an email campaign but don't have enough data on your audience, remember that data providers like Media Source Solutions are out there to help. Our data append service allows marketers to send us what data they do have, and specify which fields they'd like added such as name, address etc.
CTV is another channel that has received a lot of press recently. Much of this has been driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, with households spending more time at home and therefore in front of their TV. A recent Samsung study revealed that more than 60% of all viewing time in the US is now spent on streaming services.
CTV is great as it enables marketers to be much more targeted in comparison to traditional TV ads. But keep in mind that this channel is still best suited to brand awareness campaigns. Due to the simple reason that users cannot click on their TV screens, the customer conversion journey may well involve a CTV touchpoint but it will most definitely not end there - prospects will always convert using a different device.
We are big believers here at Media Source Solutions in the power of integrated multichannel marketing campaigns. That's why we provide data from across the marketing spectrum, including: email, telephone, postal, hashed emails, cookies, IPs, MAIDs and CTV IDs. The marketing mix is a smorgasbord of channels marketers can choose from. Don't limit yourself to just one thing from the menu.
Are you interested in making your multichannel marketing campaigns perform better via scalable and accurate data? Talk to us today to discuss your needs.