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4 Direct Mail Truths HubSpot Got Wrong

HubSpot misses the mark when critiquing direct mail

October 23, 2013 By Bob Bly
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Editor's Note: This article was submitted in response to the blog post "6 Horrific Practices of Direct Mail (and What Great Email Marketers Do Instead)," which was originally posted on HubSpot's Inbound Marketing Blog and was included in the Around the Web section of Tuesday's Today @ Target Marketing.

I have long admired the people at HubSpot for their online marketing acumen. I routinely download and read their marketing e-books with pleasure.

But their recent analysis of direct mail—"6 Horrific Practices of Direct Mail"—displays a stunning ignorance of what works and what doesn't work in direct mail.

To begin with, they go down the slippery slope of criticizing marketing without knowing what the results of those marketing campaigns are.

Whenever you do that, you operate largely out of ignorance. If I am tempted to say a direct mail package is bad, I will not do so unless the marketer confirms that it bombed.

Now let's look at some specifics. You can click on the link above to see images of the mailers under discussion.

1. In their horrific practice No. 1, HubSpot shows a direct mail envelope inviting the recipient to open a new credit card.

The teaser, which HubSpot author Jay Acunzo says "blatantly violates my trust," reads: "Time-sensitive account information."

Unlike Acunzo, I know this ploy works, because I have used variations of it in many direct mail packages throughout the years: adding a sense of urgency increases response.

Since the offer is to open a credit card account, and the special savings inside are good for a limited time only, the teaser is not only effective—it's also accurate and honest. Nothing about that violates my trust.

2. HubSpot's second "horrific mistake" is the use of a plain envelope. In direct mail lingo, these are called "blind" envelopes—and they have a long history of performing incredibly well in the mail, a fact that Acunzo seems blissfully unaware of.

3. Skipping ahead to horrific mistake No. 4, Acunzo criticizes the mailer for promoting the firm's money-back guarantee. In this he is wrong: money-back guarantees are standard in subscription marketing offers. To not have one is folly.

 

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Most Recent Comments:
Richard Potter - Posted on October 23, 2013
I totally agree with you, Bob. I read the original posting and was dismayed at the total lack of hands-on knowledge of what works in direct mail. My mantra has always been “Empirical evidence beats opinion every time.” Thanks for taking the time to take the poster (or is it “poseur”?) to task — I considered it but figured it would take more time than I was prepared to spend. And having one more ignorant mailer to compete with (if they ever mail), the better It makes my task that much easier. ;-)
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Archived Comments:
Richard Potter - Posted on October 23, 2013
I totally agree with you, Bob. I read the original posting and was dismayed at the total lack of hands-on knowledge of what works in direct mail. My mantra has always been “Empirical evidence beats opinion every time.” Thanks for taking the time to take the poster (or is it “poseur”?) to task — I considered it but figured it would take more time than I was prepared to spend. And having one more ignorant mailer to compete with (if they ever mail), the better It makes my task that much easier. ;-)