Direct mail isn’t dead. A bunch of stuff came through my letterbox this morning, and I read at least one of the pieces. And that was relatively untargeted stuff. When you send out direct mail, it’s to an expensively-assembled and potentially great mailing list, right? So direct mail can still produce results. The problem is that most of us have forgotten what makes it work.
Here’s what happens. We’re all assuming that the best place to acquaint people with our company and our offers nowadays is our website. That’s almost certainly a fair assumption. So we then make the mistake of using every medium to drive people to the website. And that’s where things start to go wrong.
The problem is that people find it very hard to “switch media”. Email them a URL, or show them a link on a web page they were reading, and they’ll click on it. Give them a piece of paper with a URL on it and tell them to type that into their browser though, and that’s a different matter. Unless the offer really is stunning, the best you can probably hope for is that they’ll put the piece of paper to one side and look up the website when they’re next online. Even if they’re reading a magazine in front of their computer, it’s more likely they’ll want to finish the magazine than stop what they’re doing and switch to a PC to look up something.
Sending someone to your website is not an appropriate action to request from a piece of printed material. Compare it to a telephone call, if you like. You would use the call to tell someone about your offer, not to suggest they visited your website. You’d get a response from them verbally too. Similarly, your direct mail needs to explain everything, in isolation. Response might need to be by mail too. Don’t use the existence – and effectiveness – of your website as a reason to be lazy and fail to tell the whole story in print.
Whether even the best direct mail still represents a good return on investment is another matter.