By now, you have heard at least a few dozen times that you have to have an email list if you want your business to succeed. You’ve been preached at about the virtues of email marketing and have heard at least one testimonial from someone who insists that 99.99999% of his profit comes from the email marketing he does.
It’s easy with the saturation of email marketing advice to forget that direct mail marketing still exists. Direct marketing, though, is still around and going strong, and its value shouldn’t be discounted as you put together your marketing plan.
Email marketing is certainly the easier of the two — both for you and for your recipient. You compose an email, upload it to your list manager, and voila! Done! The email gets sent out to your list, and hopefully your list will respond by buying whatever it is you are trying to sell.
The most this costs you out of pocket is whatever you’re paying for your list management service and the writer you hire to compose the email (which, if you are a halfway decent writer, you could probably do yourself for free).
Direct marketing, on the other hand, is time consuming and expensive. Even a simple letter needs to be printed out and stuffed into envelopes, which then need to be mailed. In addition to taking a lot of time, a phone call will likely require a written script. You need to pay for the supplies, the postage, the phone line, and potentially hours or even days of your own time.
Still, with direct marketing, the recipient is given something personal. They get your voice, your time. If you’re using direct mail, they’ll have something tangible to remind them of you and your services. Those are things that can help you continue marketing to that person even after you’ve hung up the phone or sent the letter. How many times have you accidentally deleted an email and simply moved on because you didn’t want to take the time to retrieve it from an email trash folder?
The most successful businesses fold both types of marketing into their PR (just ask Steve Wynn). Think about it: Your grocery store sends you emails, but you also get coupons from them in the regular mail too, right? A hybrid approach allows you to reach every customer on whatever level he or she finds the most comfortable. Is a hybrid approach more expensive? Yes. Will it also yield a higher profit? Most definitely.
The trick is to not duplicate yourself. If you send a promo code in an email, there’s no need to send the same code via snail mail. A better approach is to send a coupon the person can use in-store only through the mail and a coupon code for free shipping off of online orders via email. You can cold call people to let them know about an upcoming sale and ask for an email address that you can use to send them more information. You can mail out a magnet that has a permanent 10% off code printed on it.
What are some of the things you’ve done to marry direct and email marketing for your business?
Erin Steiner is a writer who specializes in small business, internet, and personal finance topics. Her work has appeared all over the web.