Ecommerce is booming. Direct mail for Ecommerce is booming as well.
Direct mail? What’s that? That sounds very much like something from decades ago, back when everyone had a big boxy television set, shoulders were extensively padded, and people thought that Pong provided sophisticated entertainment.
Clearly obsolete, anyway, now we have emails. Right?
Well, not right.
Entirely wrong, in point of fact. So remarkably wrong that you may be astonished.
Direct mail is not only still worthwhile, but actually increasing in value as time goes by, and anything from a novelty voucher to a cut-out mask can work wonders.
So let’s examine why direct mail should be the next avenue of attack for every ecommerce brand that has been overlooking it.
Check out the “Commerce Marketer” Interview/Podcast With Postalytics CEO Dennis Kelly and Greg Zackowicz of Bronto
Make More Of An Impact With Direct Mail For Ecommerce
Most of the time, an email will get one measly subject line to plead its case. That’s it. And if you think it’s easy to find a compelling angle in a sea of spam, think again, because it’s an arduous task even if you have an industry-leading product and a bag full of rhetorical devices.
If you fail to pass the subject line check, whatever you place in your email will go to waste. It doesn’t matter how good your value proposition is.
And it doesn’t get all that much easier if you do pass that check, because online attention spans are very limited and the most trivial of misdemeanors will have the reader reaching for the back button.
Direct mail gives you a completely different opportunity: the chance to leave a visual impression right off the bat. Whether in the material you choose, the colors you use, the designs you create or the messages you display, the odds are in your favor that you can get across something of note to the recipient.
There’s so much room to be creative, too, with things like seasons and special events to draw inspiration from. A sparkly product brochure around Christmas time, perhaps, or an Olympics-themed newsletter.
Just take a look at how effective seasonal pop-up shops can be if you’re not convinced that we become rather more susceptible to marketing tactics when the holidays roll around. While families are getting together and spending less time online, you can be gaining ground through traditional means via the humble letterbox.
Also, even if your letter doesn’t interest the recipient all that much to begin with, they may well leave the letter around their house, where it will have another opportunity to hook them should they sit down at dinnertime and want something to read.
An equivalent email would simply drift into the deepest darkest recesses of the inbox, never again to see the light of day. And while we’re relating mail to email…
It Has Far Less Competition Than Email
There are three big reasons why direct mail has far less competition than email. Firstly, emails are functionally easier to produce and distribute in the vast quantities marketing teams generally love. They’re cheap and easily configurable. Secondly, it’s entirely straightforward to hook emails into the modern analytics model, with simple conversion tracking and A/B testing. Thirdly (and this is particularly significant), it’s perceived as old.
Sure, there are those who feel nostalgic for the days of so-called ‘snail mail’, but newer generations don’t really care for it enough to go to the effort of sending it. And marketers, just as keen to target young demographics as they are to target every last KPI, are perfectly willing to oblige them by consigning it to the history books.
So look at it this way. Every online marketing team, tech-savvy company, or wide-eyed startup with a big dream and a gleaming new ecommerce store is unleashing a barrage of email marketing.
Meanwhile, what letters do you get through your door? Boring bills, boring notifications, boring insurance offers. Then one day you see something fun. A glossy ad for a new product, or a funny leaflet about a new service. You remember how nice it is to actually have a quality piece of physical media, especially given the incredible blandness of the other letters you receive. How good does this mailer look, for instance?
And if that one letter is done particularly well, it makes you think one thing in particular about the company that sent it: that they’re committed.
It Demonstrates Commitment
An email doesn’t generally feel very meaningful, and that’s partially because the expectations are so low for any given message. The general idea is to fire and forget. Throw plenty of things at the wall and hope that something sticks. If a line of emails bombs, just do some more tests and send out some more. No one will really remember them, or you, or anything much about your efforts, so what does it matter?
But sending out direct mail has subtly-different implications. The increased opportunity for impact that we looked at is also an increased opportunity for failure and mockery. A glaring typo or laughable claim is much harder to live down when it’s been granted tangible form.
And that’s a good thing, because daring to put effort into direct mail and commit to sending it out shows that you believe in what you do and you care about how it comes across. I’m not saying it’s a grand gesture or anything like that, but the advantage it holds over email in that area is definitely a healthy one.
So at your next marketing meeting, find the time and budget to start some direct mailing. You might be shocked to see just how effective it can be if you put your best foot forward.
Victoria Greene is an ecommerce marketing expert and freelance writer who loves seeing businesses grow. She particularly enjoys encouraging companies to embrace their unique strengths. You can read more of her work at her blog Victoria Ecommerce.