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When Should My Organization Use Direct Mail Marketing

We’ve heard it all before: “Direct mail is dead. No one uses it anymore. It doesn’t work.” In instances like this, I usually listen politely until the conclusion of the protestations of using a seemingly, antiquated marketing technique ceases. Look, I get it. Direct mail may seem silly in an age of Google AdWords and social media marketing.

But have you ever clicked on an AdWords ad? Do you pay any heed to the ads you’re bombarded with as a user on Facebook or Twitter? Maybe you do. And there’s certainly a relationship, specifically B2C, where this type of marketing is ideally suited and highly effective. But when it comes to B2B and membership-based organizations, direct mail is still the better option for generating an effective response.

Have doubts? Here’s how to know when direct mail is your ideal marketing vehicle for growing your business, membership, donor base, or subscribers.

You Already Know Your Prospects

If you already have the contact information for prospects, there’s no reason to use a shotgun-marketing approach on digital platforms. Having physical addresses for targeted prospects is ideal, as you can develop a mailing piece using variable data to personalize your marketing in an impactful – yet cost-effective – way. What’s more, you know your prospect will receive the piece, thereby growing awareness of your business. Don’t have a list? Any marketing company worth their salt will know how to secure accurate, updated mailing lists that will fit the demographics of your ideal prospects; and they’ll be honest if that list doesn’t exist from a list broker and other list building options need to be considered.

Email marketing can be an excellent option if you have prospect email addresses simply because it’s less costly than printed and mailed pieces. But open rates and click-through rates can be exceedingly low using email marketing, especially if your prospect hasn’t chosen to connect with your organization. Unless your prospects opted into your email list, you risk getting your domain blacklisted by search engines for violating spam laws.

The Return on Investment is Substantial and Ongoing

Let’s use the example of using direct mail as a solicitation piece for a hypothetical nonprofit or foundation. In 2017, you receive a $50 donation from Mr. Johnson to Save the Whales. Sweet! In 2018, should you start your ask at $25? No, you should start your ask at $100 for this particular individual based on his donation history; do likewise for other past donors, whatever their level may be. The ability to use variable data to optimize your donation ask on a prospect-by-prospect basis can increase your return on investment year after year, making your initial investment in print and postage trivial after a decade of positively trending campaigns

You Have Excellent Prospect Data and the Ability to Track Metrics

As alluded to already, if you have excellent prospect data, you can execute a direct mail campaign and have confidence in its effectiveness. The type of direct mail you send matters significantly, too. You need to think carefully about the design and message to help generate action from people who are already predisposed to support your organization. Furthermore, when you have the ability to accurately track responses by individual prospects and campaigns, you can test different marketing vehicles and messaging. This way, your marketing becomes more effective due to data collected during each and every marketing effort. Direct mail, paired with accurate data collection, means you learn as you go and get better at direct mail as you go.

Still not sure if direct mail marketing can work for you? We’ll help you find out. Get in touch for a no-cost chat to see if direct mail is the right fit for your next marketing effort.

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Article written by:

Wes Sovis

Business Development Manager

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