Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Email Marketing vs. Direct Mail Marketing

Used by companies large and small today, delivering mail to customers’ mailboxes is still the most popular way to reach your target market. Mail delivery, however, consist of two major types --  direct mail marketing and digital mail or email marketing. While both are a form of direct marketing and are cheaper marketing alternatives to buying a billboard space or running a television ad, the two have major differentiations in how they are sent and received.

Direct Mail

Direct mail marketing entails sending directly to your target audiences’ houses. Direct mail marketing mediums commonly include postcards, letters, catalogues and pamphlets. These materials need to be designed, printed, stamped, and sent through postal service.

One advantage to direct mail marketing is the lists available for purchase that can target the most niche markets out there. Data of households are collected which includes demographics such as age, gender, geography, income, and even their life styles by tracking what kind of magazines they are subscribed to. Another advantage to direct mail marketing is the ability to put a physical copy of a post card or catalogue in consumer’s hands.

However, direct mail marketing has its down side as well. The major one is the hefty cost which includes the design fee, the print fee, the postage fee, the mailing fee and the cost of buying a list. Another disadvantage to direct mail marketing is the lack of accuracy when it comes to tracking ROI (Return on Investment).

Digital Mail

Email marketing uses electronic mail to promote products or a message. Marketing emails can be used for many purposes such as automatically responding to customers, following up with customers, distributing newsletters, keeping in touch with customers and more.

One of the greatest advantages of email marketing is the convenience of delivering and tracking the campaigns. Unlike direct mail, emails can be almost instantly generated and be scheduled to go out as the email marketer sees fit. Also, email marketing enables the marketer to pin point and direct one batch of emails towards one group of audience and another batch to another group of audience. With the right program, it’s also relatively effortless to track opens and clicks which helps with calculating ROI.

While direct mail is great for sending your audience a hard copy of your marketing material, digital mail enables marketers to use more modern techniques, such as animations, in an email. Unlike direct mail marketing, email marketing is prominently more cost efficient. With an ROI of 28.5% compared to direct mail, at 7% (Direct Mail Association), it’s evident that email marketing is unparalleled in its own right.

Despite the wholesome advantages to email marketing, like any marketing strategy, it has its shortcomings. One major weakness for email marketing is the forbiddance of purchasing a consumer list due to the CAN SPAM Act which is intended to prevent email abuse. The appropriate way to go about deriving a list is to compile one by having customers submit their email address on a website or on a form in person which can eventually grow into a healthy, voluminous list.

Whether you take into account the cost, the effectiveness, or the convenience of, email marketing has rapidly surpassed direct mail marketing as a marketer’s must in direct marketing.

Happy Mailing!

Author: Michelle Chan
Editor: Caitlin Durand

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