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It’s True: Direct Mail Still Matters

With the hype surrounding social media and digital marketing, you might be surprised to know that the old-fashioned direct mail piece will bring in more new customers than an email will.

Yes, it’s true. As shocking as it sounds, two to three times as many 18-34 year olds preferred to receive marketing information from offline sources, such as direct mail, according to a recent survey by ICOM, a division of Epsilon. Although it may save you a little money, ignoring traditional strategies may result in reaching fewer prospects and, in turn, achieving fewer sales.

Here are three tips to contemplate while crafting your direct mail strategy.

1. Have realistic expectations. If you mail out a special offer to 1,000 homes in your area, how many people do you expect to show up, offer in hand? If you answered “hundreds,” you will be disappointed. “Dozens” is far closer to the truth. Although the rates vary by industry (retail industries fair the best), the Direct Marketing Association reports the average response rate is 3.4 percent.

So, 34 of the 1,000 will likely take advantage of your offer, assuming you’re abiding by advertising best practices. However, the same offer sent by email will draw only 0.12 percent (measured by click-through rates). That’s only one customer per thousand.

2. Optimize your mailing. Don’t turn your direct mail into junk mail. A well-done direct mail piece is personalized. Indeed, respondents to several surveys noted the enjoyment they experienced from receiving personal mail. Get started in a small way by developing some offers designed to appeal to local customers. By combining the United States Post Office’s do-it-yourself solution DirectMail2Go with some quick demographic research using a free service such as ZipSkinny, you can create an offer that’s well-matched to the needs of your community. Make sure you give them a reason to respond. Stress the benefits of your product or service as well as the urgency to act now, not just the facts and features.

3. Blend offline and online marketing. Your customers look for information in a variety of places. Many research products on the internet and social media before ever setting foot in a store. Your goal should be to reach your customers with a clear, consistent and compelling message via your website, social media, email and direct mail. Blending traditional approaches with digital ones (called “integrated marketing) is especially important given the high return on investment that digital marketing can provide. At the very least, make sure to include your website and social media information prominently with every mailing.

The slow-paced summer months could be the perfect time to try a foray into direct mail. Consider ways your business could help your customers beat the heat or enjoy some summer relaxation. Then craft a direct mail promotion to get their attention and their business.

About Business Owner’s Toolkit: With an emphasis on problem-solving dating back to 1995, Business Owner’s Toolkit™ ( offers more than 5,000 pages of free cost-cutting tips, step-by-step checklists, real-life case studies, startup advice, and business templates to small business owners and entrepreneurs. The site also offers a monthly newsletter, up-to-date news topics, and Ask Alice!, a column that closely follows industry trends and provides trusted advice to inquiring site visitors.

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