Friday, April 24, 2009

Email could learn lessons from Snail Mail Marketing

"Snail Mail"-aka direct mail-is truly alive and well. Need proof? Just look at your mailbox. Every day there are provocative mailings that demand you read them.

Old technology snail mailers have a thing or two to teach tech-happy eMarketers about good marketing. Here are some Marketing 101 errors I found in my email just this week-amateur errors that cost these companies my time and attention.

Lesson #1 Verify the basics: presentation, spelling and grammar. We all know that direct mail isn't instant. But it's typically better thought out, more compelling and better composed than text messages or email blasts.

Just this past week I received email blasts from bona fide companies offering to get me some of the "simulous [sic] money that's flooding the market" and help me "refiance [sic] my home." And I don't even want to think about the spam I get offering a "free colege [sic] education" or cheap "Canadan [sic] pharmaceuticals."

Can you imagine a direct mail piece going out with those egregious errors?

eMarketers: Check your spelling before you hit the "send" button. Your error makes it easy for me to ignore your message. It makes you seem unorganized and ill-prepared. And I don't choose to spend my time or money with someone who is either unorganized or ill-prepared.

Lesson #2. Time is your ally. OK, direct mail takes longer to produce, longer to deliver and longer to start to get feedback. But time can be your friend. Truly.

Time gives the marketer a chance to think about his message. It lets him prepare it in a compelling way and select graphics to reinforce the presentation. It gives him an opportunity to consider what audience would be most receptive to his message and to craft his message to that audience. It gives him time to reflect, to reconsider, before he pulls the trigger.

eMarketers: Don't be a cowboy. Plan then execute! Doing things fast and doing things right shouldn't be mutually exclusive.

Lesson #3. Know your audience. Good direct mail does a terrific job of talking to its audience. Successful marketers who put direct mail together think about their audience before they launch. That's why letters are personalized to the recipient-to reestablish the existing relationship. That's why people living in apartments don't get letters meant for homeowners. Or why hunters don't get letters intended for PETA members.

It's patently obvious: market to someone you know with a message that is right for that person, and you'll increase your response rate. Duh!

If my incoming email is an indicator, the guys (I'm assuming they are guys) who generate this electronic stuff need a few lessons in who they are reaching out to.

As a woman, I don't need little blue pills that will give me "hours of exstacy [sic, again!]" and I certainly don't need to "keep her happy all night long." ...As a college postgrad, I don't need a free college education...As an owner of a company, I don't want to work out of my house at night to generate extra income. I am not interested in buying foreclosed property or in becoming a secret shopper, or in getting free coupons for products/stores/restaurants I don't buy/frequent/eat at.
Come on, guys! Focus!

eMarketers: Rifles work better than shotguns. Targeted, personalized messages work better than helter skelter get-as-many-out-as-you-can-in-as-short-a-time-as-you-can. That's leaping before you look. That's stupid marketing.

Lesson #4. Quantity does not equal Quality. If your marketing plan is to send out as many emails as you can to as many people as you can hoping that something will register with someone, then you have no plan. You're wasting your money and my time.

By the way, sending me the same email twice in 5 minutes does nothing to endear you to me. Sending it to me four times in two days alienates me. Got it?

Lesson #5. Give me a way to get back to you. Let's suppose I'm interested. Please be sure your email has an obvious "Contact us" link that I can use. Better yet, give me the name of a real person with a real phone number.

Oh yes-back to Lesson #1. Check and re-check your info. Be sure you've got the phone number and "contact us" link correct. Last week I responded to the Contact us link and got back a bounced message that [name of intended recipient] was no longer employed at [name of company that sent me the email]. Geez. No one is watching that store to be sure! Makes one wonder.

Maybe I am a little old gray-haired lady who is a bit crotchety and stogy. But I am your potential customer. That should count for something.

Take a lesson or two from the fuddy duddies who do direct mail marketing. Focus on the marketing basics. Good copy. Good graphics. Correct spelling. Relate your message to the recipient's interests/needs. Provide a reliable respond-back mechanism.

They've been doing it right for 50 years. Study the masters.

Need help with your direct mail marketing and email marketing? Consult a professional like Paul&Partners. We'll help you navigate the postal regulations to ensure you get the best postage rate available to you. We'll help you find the perfect people for your message, and then we'll design a package that is the right one for your audience and your budget.

Check us out at Let us know how we can help make your next marketing program more successful.

43670 Trade Center Place, Suite 150, Dulles, VA 20166
Phone: 703.996.0800 Fax: 703.996.0888 1.866.365.2858 sales@paulandpartners

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