Direct Mail Versus E-mail: You Decide
For direct marketers, the print-to-online transition is an ongoing one. Consider the following facts comparing direct mail to e-mail for marketing purposes.
The 20 percent increase in the cost of paper over the past two to three years is being caused in part by higher labor costs as well as higher fuel costs to get wood to the mill, run the papermaking machines and transport the finished product to warehouses and on to printers.
Moreover, many paper mills are making investments to become more eco-friendly, incurring costs to train employees in new processes and procedures. Printing and postage costs are also rising, and additional paper price increases are likely.
For companies whose customers are largely online, e-mail is a cost-effective replacement to direct mail. For organizations that have a blend of online and non-online customers, it can be a welcomed alternative for e-mail-equipped recipients that also lowers the cost of marketing for the company.
Direct mail efficiency
A direct mail campaign can take weeks to design, lay out, print and mail. Moreover, while deliverability and response are trackable with direct mail, they take time. Undeliverable mail can take weeks to be returned and addresses must be manually removed from a list. In addition, response can take days by postage paid reply.
An e-mail campaign can take as little as a few hours to a few days from concept to receipt, enabling companies to respond rapidly to market dynamics and competitive pressures. In addition, with e-mail sent by an advanced e-mail delivery system, bad addresses are discovered within minutes and culled from a list. Then, marketers know exactly how many recipients opened the message.
With links back to a Web site, purchases can be made immediately and tracking systems can show which pages or items were viewed, providing invaluable customer data for future campaigns.
Green marketing -- direct mail
While many direct marketing firms are instituting green standards in their companies, the direct mail business is under environmental pressure because of the huge amount of paper it consumes and the waste that paper generates.
Green marketing -- e-mail
While e-mail servers require electricity, no trees are destroyed, no pollutants are sent into the air, and no gasoline or other petroleum-based products are used to get a marketing message across with e-mail.
E-mail may not work for every marketing purpose. But despite its unreliable side, it may prove more worthwhile in the long run.
Barry Abel is vice president of field operations for Message Systems, a Columbia, Md.-based, e-mail software solutions provider for ESPs, ISPs and large enterprises. Reach Barry at firstname.lastname@example.org.