If you're a millennial, Gen X, or Baby Boomer, you may very well remember a time before the internet had truly established itself as a dominant force in the world of media and communications.
Long before there were email newsletters and email drip campaigns — when email was still a niche thing that not everybody used — there was direct marketing.
Good old reliable snail mail.
Come rain or hail or sleet or snow, the mailman comes regardless.
The US Postal Service plays an incredibly important role for the nation's citizens.
Thing is, it takes a while for a physical document to be delivered.
So it's no wonder that today, we take full advantage of technologies like email and instant messaging that have made communication over long distances become orders of magnitude faster.
But believe it or not, direct mail isn't dead.
There really are some scenarios where it might be your best bet for reaching your customers, and in those situations, the ROI can be quite impressive indeed.
In a recent blog post, Neil Patel explains how direct mail can complement your online marketing.
I once knew a real estate investor who spent $10,000 on his direct-mail campaigns. For a year, he sent postcard after postcard.
But it didn’t work like he had hoped.
Instead of pulling in leads, his direct-mail campaigns did nothing but stagnate.
His real estate buddies told him he just needed to invest more money in the campaigns. So he did.
Month after month, he poured money into his direct-mail campaigns.
And still, he gained no leads.
In the end, he spent $10,000 with nothing to show for it.
Roughly 64% of people have visited a website because of direct mail they received.
So, in the case of my friend, what gives?
Why do some direct-mail marketing campaigns succeed, and others fail?
There’s a two-part answer to this conundrum.
First, the timing of the direct mail is sometimes wrong. You shouldn’t always use direct mail unless it fits your industry.
There’s a time to send and a time not to send.
Second, the way you send direct mail changes its effectiveness.
If you send the same postcard year round, that might be a horrible marketing tactic, or it might be brilliant. It just depends on how often you send postal mail and who your recipients are.
Some 47% of people have visited a store because of a direct-mail campaign.
But sometimes people don’t take action because the direct mail’s timing and method are off.
The mail doesn’t connect with the audience, and it definitely doesn’t encourage the audience to take action.
And you want your audience to take action. You want your direct mail to generate leads, encourage brand sharing, and enhance brand awareness.
But to do so, you need to send direct mail at the right time and in the right way.
Here’s when and how to send effective direct mail.
Send during the holidays
People are receptive to marketing during the holidays.
They’re expecting to receive gifts. But they aren’t just anticipating gifts. They’re also expecting to get cards in the mail.
Send on customers’ birthdays
Similar to the holidays, most people are open to receiving all kinds of direct mail on their birthdays.
They already receive a lot from family members and extended relatives, so if you play your marketing cards right, you’ll be a welcome addition to their mailbox.
But what should you send prospects, customers, and clients on their birthdays?
Well, everyone else is sending them a gift. You should, too.
If you do, they’ll think of you in the same way they think of their family: as generous and kind.
Send to reach a variety of demographics
Different groups of people use different technologies.
It’s no secret that older audiences are less likely to view social media ads or respond to private messages. It’s not because they’re incapable, but because they simply spend less time on the Internet.
However, it’s also no secret that young people are less likely to respond to sales calls and, in some cases, emails.
If you’re trying to reach all demographics, or at least a larger portion of people, direct mail is the solution.
Send when you have the time to follow up
Every sale depends on following up with your customers.
It’s one thing to run ads, curate content, and optimize your website for search engines.
It’s quite another thing to ensure that leads get the attention they deserve.
When someone responds to your direct-mail campaign by visiting your website, opting in, or participating in an event, you should connect with them.
And you shouldn’t just connect with them once. Connect over and over again.
Send when you have something to say
This should be obvious, but to many marketers, it isn’t.
Only send direct mail if you have something to say or some value to provide.
If you have nothing significant to say, don’t send anything.
Send when you have a digital presence as well
In today’s world, unless you’re a well-known local business, having an online presence in addition to your direct-mail marketing is absolutely paramount.
Around 54% of people have engaged on social media as a result of receiving direct mail.
So direct mail is still a viable option in many situations, and the tangibility of what you send can have a real impact on your customers. To find more tips for using direct mail, check out the full blog post from Neil Patel.