“Snail mail is still alive,” proclaims Entrepreneur Daily. “A recent study by International Communications Research, commissioned by Pitney Bowes, found that consumers still prefer receiving promotional information and private communications the traditional way: delivered by the mailman. When surveyed, 45.3 percent of study respondents viewed delivered mail as less intrusive than e-mail, while 40.2 percent considered it more convenient and felt the materials could be saved and considered at leisure.” [Tip of the hat to Dane Carlson on this news item.]
OK, Pitney Bowes is in the postage machine business, and naturally they would like to see businesses continue using snail mail for their promotions. But my gut reaction on seeing this report was, “Yeah! Sorting through unknown postal mail is less annoying — and less risky — than sorting through unknown email.”
From your perspective as the business doing the mailing, you have more latitude in snail mailing to conacts who have not done business with you before. That means you can reach more prospects than you can legally reach via email, because the CAN-SPAM Act limits who you can send emails.
But a word of caution: Snail mail pieces are more expensive to deliver than emails, they take longer to be delivered, and the response rate is usually lower. So invest in three things to get the most out of your program:
- Work with an experienced, reputable list vendor and choose the list parameters very carefully. You don’t want to waste your marketing dollars sending mailers to outdated lists, to people who don’t meet your demographic guidelines, or to business contacts who would not be in a position to buy what you offer. (You will pay according to how many times you will use the list, you will need to use a third party mail house to send your mailing, and you will not be able to keep the names.)
- Build a special web page to serve as a landing page for your campaign, use its URL prominently in your mailer, and provide an enticing incentive on the landing page for recipients with an interest in what you offer to fill out a form with contact information. That way, you can build your own “opt-in” list for later use, and it will be of prospects who have expressed some interest in your business.
- Spend some money with a good agency that knows how to craft an opening message and eye-catching graphics that will make your mailer the piece that doesn’t go into the recycle bin without being opened. Then make sure you have an attractive offer as part of your program to encourage people to take action.