The Email Fatigue Cure May Not Be a New Email Strategy, But Supplementing With Personalized Direct Mail

More marketers than ever rely on email as a primary means of customer engagement. But think about your inbox: How many emails do you delete every day without bothering to open them? Consumers’ inboxes are saturated, leading to email fatigue: lower open rates and lower click rates.

Consumers also have learned to be wary about their data — many have become more cautious about opting in to mailing lists and are more actively unsubscribing from them. All of these factors make digital outreach alone a risky path for marketers. Fluent’s most recent email perceptions study reveals that more than half of Americans feel they receive too many marketing emails. Similarly, 51 percent say they rarely or never open those emails. Edison reports that nearly 75 percent of Americans admit being overwhelmed by how many emails they get, and only 15 percent (Opens as a PDF) consider the marketing emails they receive to be useful.

This email fatigue will only grow as marketers ramp up their online content marketing spends — something 57 percent of marketers plan to do in 2019.

Instead of adding emails to the deluge, think about other ways of reaching consumers. Staying out of the email rat race helps you avoid being marked as spam, which damages your brand’s reputation and reduces your customer lifetime value.

Connecting With Direct Mail

One way to avoid contributing to inbox saturation is to holistically reexamine your direct mail marketing strategy. When done correctly, direct mail provides marketers with an opportunity to put a real, personalized message in the hands of each and every one of their customers — without the fear of the message bouncing or getting caught in a spam filter. Opening an envelope containing a personalized message that’s been done right can evoke an emotional response that email simply can’t replicate.

Direct mail can also drive actionable, quantitative results in a campaign, providing valuable feedback for marketers who can’t always get good data from other popular marketing channels. Not every campaign will benefit from direct mail, nor will direct mail solve every marketer’s needs. But when used correctly, it supplements smart digital tactics and compensates for digital delivery’s weaknesses.

Loyal customers enjoy direct mail, too. In a survey, 54 percent of shoppers reported that they like getting mail from their preferred brands, and 56 percent of consumers consider print marketing more trustworthy than other formats. Seventy percent of consumers also think mail shows a more personal touch than email.

In some cases, that personal touch is also preferable for companies. If marketers are missing a customer’s email, direct mail can fill the gap. Direct marketing also ameliorates deliverability problems that are caused by issues like over-sending, bad data or failure to use best email practices. By putting a compelling message in the customer’s physical mailbox, marketers can generate results, while fixing their deliverability issues.

How to Launch a Direct Mail Campaign the Right Way

Complementing digital marketing campaigns with direct mail has clear benefits, but knowing where to begin isn’t simple. Here are a few ways to get started:

1. Go It Alone or Use Vendors?

Direct mail has been around for a long time. There are plenty of best practices to follow — and plenty of high-quality vendors to help you, if that’s what you decide to do.

In direct mail, your format options are practically unlimited when it comes to print. You can try regular letters, multidimensional self-mailers, greeting cards, postcards or other types of content. If you hire a company to help, your vendor might be able to both design and print your mailers. Consider personalization, fulfillment, and mailing services. If you hire vendors, combining your printing and fulfillment vendors wherever possible is the most efficient tactic. One word of caution about vendors: Thoroughly vet their list and data services before using them in this age of GDPR.

2. Balance ROI and Cost

Digital marketing can often feel like a free resource, while direct mail’s price tag is omnipresent. That might scare you off if you’re new to print, until you learn that direct mail consistently delivers strong ROI. Just because you can pay 1 cent to send an email doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest $1 in direct mail. Many marketers find that the number of real dollars that a direct mail campaign produces is likely to outpace that of an email campaign.

In fact, direct marketing campaigns average 18 to 20 percent ROI. B2C marketers found that 56 percent of their consumers who actively engage with their print materials go on to either visit the store or go online. And of the customers who did respond to that first direct mail touchpoint, 62 percent ended up making purchases within three months.

3. Remember Digital Best Practices

Many of the same best practices of email marketing apply to direct mail. These include simple steps like personalizing mail with customers’ names and localizing the sending party: addressing the message from a local store representative, for example. Small details like these have a big impact.

You should also use unique coupon codes with special offers, which then allow you to track the success of your campaign down to the individual level. It’s hard to connect with individuals when you’re targeting a large group, but 84 percent of customers report that they value being treated as a person, not just as a number. When you use the same predictive analytics to tailor your print marketing as you do for direct marketing, you’ll build connections with your consumers.

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