There has been a lot of chatter about email vs. direct mail lately, and for good reason. Email is cheap. Email provides instant gratification. Email campaigns can be deployed at the push of a button.
It is no wonder that marketers love email. In fact, according to StrongMail’s 2011 Marketing Trends Report, 65% of businesses are planning to increase their spend on email marketing this year compared to 18% that are planning to increase their spend on direct mail.
So here’s the question. Next time one of your clients tells you they are cutting back on print in favor of email, what are you going to say? (Or do you simply watch their print volumes disappear without asking any questions?) Do you have a response prepared?
If not, here are a few thoughts you might want to have at the ready:
- Email has a high value for communicating with existing customers, but for prospecting, nothing beats direct mail.
- Email lists are notoriously unreliable. They cannot be checked beforehand, so their quality only becomes known after you’ve pushed “send.”
- Email lists go out of date quickly. People change addresses at the drop of a hat.
- People have multiple email addresses (even dummy addresses to avoid marketers like you), but they typically only have one home.
- Many people use their work email as their primary address; consequently, your communication faces the relentless, often over-zealous corporate spam filter.
- Consumers’ home addresses don’t have a spam filter.
- Email generates immediate response, but print has a longer shelf life. Recipients often respond to direct mail weeks or even months after it arrives in their home.
- Print has a gravitas that email does not. This makes it preferred for financial, medical, and other communications of a more serious and confidential nature.
- You have to touch direct mail in order to “delete” it.
Email has many benefits. So does direct mail. One is not necessarily better than another. Marketers simply need to understand their value and use them in symbiosis, not in competition. But they may not think of that on their own. When you find out they’ve shrunk their print budget in favor of email, will you stand there dumbfounded? Or will you have a response ready?