Email’s cheap. But ya gotta love the postman!

shorterimage5When companies choose media for direct marketing campaigns, their knee jerk media choice is usually email.  It costs so much less to create and deliver than a letter, brochure, or postcard.  The process is painless and usually produces results that make the boss happy.  So, what’s not to like?

Mail can outperform email

Email is good.  But postal campaigns can be better.  At Loyalty Builders, we oversee direct marketing campaigns for our customers every day.  As we help both B2B and B2C companies, we often see individualized postcards outperform email.  Of course there’s no “always.”   And email is sometimes the better choice.

  • If you are in an ecommerce business and all of your interactions with customers are over the internet, then email is definitely the preferred media
  • If the average dollar value of a sale is small and you are campaigning to lower ranking customers with low response rates, revenue will be limited and email may be the only media choice that will turn a profit for you.

But the postal service is by far your best choice in these cases:

  • You have a substantial number of customers with no email address or who have asked you not to send email head for the post office.
  • Or you may have customers, especially in the B2C world, who prefer to show up at your bricks-and-mortar location to redeem the coupon or offer in their hands.  They may want the item NOW – want it installed – or want to avoid shipping charges.  We often see this with our automotive aftermarket customers.
  • Driving customers to a store greatly increases the opportunity to build the sale through cross-sell and up-sell.
  • Spam is a concern. People don’t think of postal campaigns as spam.  Postal campaigns are not filtered or rejected by ISPs.  People spend more time with them than with an email.  And they offer wide creative freedom to picture products in the most attractive way.

Variable data makes the difference

The problem with postal campaigns used to be a relatively inflexible format.  But customer analytics and Variable Data Publishing (VDP) have changed that.  Analytics let you discover what each individual customer is likely to buy. And VDP, now widely available, lets you print and mail a 5”x 9” individualized postcard for $0.50 or less. You can mail 100,000 individualized postcards, each one reflecting the preferences of the person it’s addressed to – because the product offers have been derived by customer analytics. Revenue lift tends to go through the roof.

Individualization works across all media. So it alone is not a reason to go postal.  But postal campaigns do turn out to be excellent revenue generators.  We often see more than $10 revenue per postcard, a big lift over the printing and mailing costs. Of course some of that lift is due to the individualization, but when our customers do both individualized emails and individualized postcards, the postcards usually do better.

So don’t write off postal campaigns as old school.  If variable data postcards are not a part of your media mix, you are missing a substantial revenue opportunity.

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