You’ve Got Mail, Direct Mail, That Is

direct mail

Let’s talk about something that’s considered a bit old-fashioned and unsexy in today’s marketing world – direct mail. You know, the sales letter, the postcard, the flyer, that lands in your mailbox. Since the advent of the internet, direct mail usage has gone down, but it has never gone away. Many online companies have never considered it a viable part of their marketing plan. And to that, all I can ask is WHY?

Why aren’t you using it? It still works. It still reaches customers and prospects. And it works better than email or Facebook ads or a slew of other digital marketing stuff at certain things. So, why aren’t you hitting them in the mailbox instead of, or as well as, the inbox?

For those of you who are answering that you find direct mail efforts uncool or too expensive or too ineffective, let’s look at some cold, hard facts and figures surrounding direct mail, especially as to how it stacks up against every ecomm and B2B’s favorite darling, email marketing.

Response Rates – Direct Mail vs. Email

Response rate is one of the major KPIs all you digital dudes and dudettes watch like a hawk. How many folks opened my ad? How many folks responded to it in some way? YOU can’t make sales if THEY are turned off, right? and it’s only junk mail if it doesn’t interest them, correct?

Email has a dismal response rate of .12% according to the Direct Marketing Association. And that’s an average. Letter sized mail gets a response rate of 3.5%, according to the latest surveys. It’s probably because more than 3/4 of all direct mail recipients respond to an ad or offer almost immediately, while less than half of email readers do.

Usage Rates – Direct Mail vs. Email

Everybody and their brother (and possibly even the lazy brother-in-law) in the digital world is using email for marketing, prospecting, and customer relations. Think I’m exaggerating? Last year, 74 TRILLION (yes, with a T) emails were sent out. That’s a hellava lot of emails hitting inboxes, folks.

Let’s compare that with 13 Billion letters. Not quite nearly as many, now is it? What this tells me is that there’s a lot less noise coming into my mailbox than my inbox. A lot fewer businesses are communicating with me through good old fashioned mail with a stamp on it instead of a time stamp. Which leads me to my next point…

Customer Reception – Direct Mail vs. Email

There are so many emails being sent, one recent survey found 70% of the folks asked thought they received too many emails every day. And over half of email list unsubscribers cite too many emails as their reason for opting out of lists they’d once happily opted into.

This plays out in a number of ways for direct mail:

  • it generates 10% more leads than email
  • it makes the majority of the readers feel “special” or “personal”, while they find email impersonal and not as professional
  • direct mail makes the receiver think of the sender as reliable, believable, and more trustworthy than email senders
  • direct mail is 10 to 20% more likely to convert a prospect to a customer

Customer Retention – Direct Mail vs. Email

Ever see an ad or open an email and then quickly move on to the next one, or the next task on your to-do list? You’re not alone. The average lifespan of an email is about 2 seconds. We open, read, dump it in the trash file, and go on with our day. Less than half of email readers can recall the brand or even the offer within an hour of reading the message. Email just doesn’t stick with them.

Direct mail, however, has a different story. A piece of mail has a typical lifespan of 17 days. That’s nearly three weeks! Now, it may just be lying about on the sideboard or desk, but it’s there. They see it as they pass by, stumble across it when they are tidying up. They are being reminded of you and your message every so often. Also, perhaps because of the relative novelty of direct mail offers or the more personal, “special” emotions generated by it, nearly three-fourths of your letter receivers can recall the offer AND the brand an hour after reading about it. Direct mail makes an impression, and it’s a favorable one.

Don’t Be So Hasty to Dump Email, However

All this good news about direct mail may have you deciding to abandon your email marketing efforts. And as much as I like the numbers and all, I have to say that would be a bad idea. Why? Because consumers – both B2C AND B2B – prefer a COMBINATION of direct mail and email together.

They go together like coffee and donuts, apparently. There are some instances where direct  mail is preferred – brochures, catalogs, welcome packs, bills and statements, and loyalty rewards. And still others – order confirmation and followup, company news and updates, complaints and customer service issues, and reminders for both payments and special offers – that customers prefer to receive via their inbox.

Nearly half of those surveyed declared that they prefer a mix of both direct mail AND email. And over half admitted that they like to browse a REAL catalog, then go online to make their purchase. In fact, customers spend an average of 25% MORE when offered a printed, mailed catalog and an online buying experience combined. Want to increase sales? Send them something they can hold in their hands, while letting them order from your website.

So What’s it All About?

My point is two-fold, actually…

First, if you AREN’T using direct mail, you’re missing out. You’re leaving a valuable marketing asset untouched, unused, and leaving money on the table because of it. If all you do is send emails, it’s time to add some snail mail to the marketing mix.

Second, direct mail DOES have a valuable and viable place in today’s marketing world, even for digital companies. Just because you aren’t a brick and mortar store built in Grandpa’s day does not mean you can’t generate sales and business using direct mail. And just because you’re on the cutting edge of technology doesn’t automatically disqualify you from the stamp-and-envelope crowd. I mean, if it’s good enough for Google, who uses direct mail on a routine basis, shouldn’t you at least consider it?

I’m adding direct mail to my own marketing mix starting in January. I’ll keep you posted as to what happens. And who knows? Maybe you’ll see a letter from lil ol Bloomers Marketing in YOUR letter bpx some day.

If you plan to use  some direct mail, or would like to discuss this topic further, drop a comment on this post. Let me know what you’re up to, and how it works out.

Till next time!


Copy Critique – More Than Editing

copy critique

We’ve all been there and done that. We hit publish on a piece of copy or content, confident it’s going to take the internet by storm. It’ll be the best thing we’ve ever created, sure to go viral and make our business name known worldwide overnight. Only…it doesn’t.

It sits there like a lump. Its bounce rate is so high you’d think the thing was a friggin trampoline. Its sales results are dismal. And all you can do is wonder “why???” That’s where a copy critique can come in handy.

It pays to have a source for a second opinion, whether it’s your car’s motor’s funny sound, the cause of your daily headaches, or your copy’s quality and potential. I have fellow professionals that I trust to give me THEIR opinion of my copy. Yes, even copywriters and professional marketers get copy critiques. Our copy and content are too valuable NOT to, in my opinion.

What Kind of Copy Can Benefit from a Copy Critique?

  • Emails
  • Web page content
  • Social media posts
  • Profiles – LinkedIn, especially
  • Sales letters and pages
  • Ad copy
  • Fundraising appeals
  • Brochure copy
  • Press releases and other public relations materials
  • White papers, case studies, one-sheets, “lead magnets”
  • Guest posts for other people’s blogs

In short, ANY kind of copy or textual content can benefit from a copy critique. If it’s got a message or offer to communicate to a specific audience with a desired action or end result in mind, it’s important enough to deserve a review.

What Is a Copy Critique?

So what IS a copy critique?

  • A second opinion and critical examination – looking over your text for common issues and concerns, and trouble spots
  • More than editing – it doesn’t JUST look for typos and bad grammar. It delves into purpose, audience, and overall voice/style/messaging issues.
  • Suggestions, comments and advice – possible rewrites, fixing “clunky” bits, telling you when something is good and when it isn’t, how to address the audience better, lower your readability score, etc.

What Can a Copy Critique Do?

  • Strengthen weak spots in your text
  • Help you better match text to its intended purpose and to its intended audience
  • Strengthen your overall writing ability – when you know you are doing something wrong, you can avoid it next time

Can You DIY a Copy Critique?

Sure. You can give your own copy a good going over before you hit publish or send or post. It’s not as good an idea to DIY a copy critique, as we tend to be way too harsh on ourselves, or way too lenient. However, here’s a simple checklist you can use to review your next bit of copy or content:

  1. Read Aloud Time. Read your text out loud, either to yourself or to someone else. Reading aloud can help you find places where your copy doesn’t read well, or needs to be broken up into smaller sentences, or just needs some revision.
  2. Proofread. Look for obvious mistakes like spelling errors, missing words, run on sentences, and punctuation issues. (It’s a good idea if  you KNOW you have issues with “language mechanics” like commas or run-ons to look for them AS you write, to save time in review.)
  3. Watch Your Head(line). There are no hard and fast rules for writing headlines. Even we pros disagree on when it should be written and how. Here’s some tips: Keep it short, keep it simple, keep it descriptive and interesting. Your headline should make them understand what they are going to be reading about, but not such that they don’t need to read. It should also make them WANT to read.
  4. Know Your Reader. Everyone does, or should, have a unique voice and message that resonates with YOUR specific reader group. Make sure the language you are using, the topic you are addressing/offer you are making, and the platform or medium you are using is appropriate for your reader. Keep ONE person in mind as your write. Write to that ONE person as if you were talking to them directly.
  5. Know Thyself. Stay true to YOUR voice and YOUR message. Don’t try to be someone or something you aren’t.
  6. Check for Readability. There are free apps all over the place where you can fill in or copy and paste your text and it will be scored for readability. Keep the readability score at a level compatible with your audience.
  7. Tell, Don’t Sell. Even if your copy is a sales piece, hyped up, spammy, smarmy sales talk went out with the polyester leisure suit and late night infomercials. Don’t be “that guy” when selling. Tell your story, give valuable information, tell them what you want them to do, which leads to…
  8. Be Direct. If there is some action you want your reader to take, if there is some desired end result of reading your copy, don’t be afraid to come out and ask for it. Use clear, concise language that every reader can understand and point them in the direction you want them to go. Make it as easy as possible for them to follow your lead.

If there are any issues with your text as you go through the checklist, stop and see what you can do to fix them. If you are trying too hard to sell, or if your voice is “off’, or if any other concern becomes apparent, backtrack and find a way to correct the problem.

What To Do Now?

Whether you’ve never had a copy critique of your content in your entire business career, or if you never  publish or send without one, the next step is obvious. Start performing a copy critique on every important piece of copy and content you create fro here on out. If you DIY your copy critique, and have trouble figuring out what to do to fix the issues you find, that’s quite common. Don’t worry. There’s a solution for that. There’s also help and hope for those of you with no time or desire to DIY your own copy critiques.

Simply contact me here at Bloomers Marketing. I offer copy critiques as part of my consulting and coaching services. I’ll take my professional eye over your copy or content and give you a thorough review, including rewrite suggestions and possible alternative headlines, if needed. The service is $400 for each typed or published page of copy. Use “Copy Critique” in your subject line so it doesn’t get lost in my inbox.

Together, well have your copy in winning form in no time!

PS I will, if necessary, tell you “It sucks.” A copy critique only goes so far, and somethings can’t be fixed easily or without a complete rewrite.