Inbound Marketing Provides Options That Traditional Outbound Just Can't Deliver
Let’s face it, people are reading less direct mail. All you have to do is stand outside your house and watch people sort through their mail, throw out all the junk and take their bills inside. Going forward, do you think people are going to be reading more mail or less? Definitely less, right?
So, why would the CEO of a major ad agency stand up in front of a group of people and say direct mail is making a comeback? Here’s a link to an article about the CEO of McCann talking about the direct mail industry.
You have to understand the context of this article. He’s speaking to the National Postal Forum, so clearly these people want to hear about mail making a resurgence. Perhaps Harris Diamond was tailoring his remarks to his audience, but I thought that looking at his comments might be interesting from an inbound marketing perspective.
Here are some of the major points from his talk, as well as how I might suggest inbound actually outperforms any direct mail effort.
Go Where The Customers Are
Yes, direct mail can be highly targeted. At the same time, that targeting has nothing to do with interest or desire to buy. There is no action associated with getting on a mailing list of potentially targeted customers. In essence, this continues to be a key difference between the traditional outbound marketing activities and the new-school inbound marketing tactics.
Instead of hoping people on your list are interested in buying, or expecting a certain percentage of these people to take action, wouldn’t it be better to focus ONLY on those people actually taking action? Of course, it would. In terms of going where the customers are, nothing is better than being available when people want to talk to you.
Today, this initial action is usually in the form of a search. People with issues that need fixing start on their favorite search engine. If you’re not there, you’re invisible.
Maximize Your Media’s Opportunity To Engage With Customers
Yes, we agree on this, too. And yes, we often recommend lumpy mail programs to clients. But, these are usually ONLY viable tactical options when you have a limited number of potential target prospects who are already identified and high-value, meaning the value of connecting with them and ultimately turning them into customers will result in a large revenue return.
Lumpy mail programs are expensive to produce. Not only are the products and packaging expensive, but the mailing costs are also high. Sure, there is a place for this type of mailing in the right type of client program, but there are also many more effective and efficient ways to use digital to engage with your customers.
Remember that most of the time you apply digital tools, it is with people who have already expressed at least some interest in what you do. That makes the allocation of money for engagement efforts highly targeted. We’re not suggesting you spend money to engage people who have never expressed any interest in what you do.
Your website, your digital assets, the interactivity of your website and any apps you might have created all provide the opportunity to differentiate your business, help your prospects and move highly qualified prospects though the sales funnel. This is something a single piece of mail just can’t do as effectively.
Today’s marketing has to be about creating an experience. That experience is not a single touch, but a series of well-orchestrated and well-architected touches that start ONLY when prospects put their hand up and identify an interest. This is a fundamental difference between inbound and outbound marketing. There is no investment to reach people who have not expressed any interest, and there is a much larger investment on helping those people who have expressed interest.
Use Technology To Enhance Engagement And Brand Value
Again, we agree that technology has a significant place in building value for prospective customers. What I don’t agree with is that paper has to be a part of that process. There are ways to integrate direct mail with online experiences, and most of those technologies work very well. For instance, no matter what you say, most people would NOT prefer to talk to another person. So, making your call-to-action on your direct mailing “Call Us” might not perform as well as using a dedicated URL, which also allows us to provide a higher level of performance data on the marketing tactic.
“Call Us” also assumes that everyone is going to be ready to buy immediately. Data from a variety of sources says that 90% of the people are actually NOT ready to buy right away, so offering another educational offer via a website page would be an excellent performance improvement tactic for any direct mail campaign.
It’s All About Reinventing The Medium
Not sure I can go along with this one. I’m actually not that interested in reinventing a dying medium. I know mail is always going to be something we have, but until more people start reading their mail and the United States Postal Service starts seeing an uptick in profits, I’m just not all in on direct mail.
I prefer to go all in on search, on social, on Web, on mobile and on one-on-one, permission-based tactics that include communicating with people the way they want to be communicated with. People don’t want mail; they want to be communicated with electronically so they can deal with it on their time, when they’re ready.
Focus On Your Relationship With Consumers
Again, I couldn’t agree more. If your relationship with your consumers is paramount, you have to talk to them the way they want to be spoken to. You have to talk to them more often and in a more educational way. It’s very challenging to do that through the mail, and it’s much easier to do it in an electronic, one-on-one manner.
Much of the marketing research shows that response rates skyrocket when you deliver a personal message to a single prospect. When you continue to deliver personal messages with customized content, those rates rise even higher. Marketing is becoming a very H2H effort; no longer is it B2B or B2C. No longer are there target markets or audiences, just people who might have an interest in what you do. The better you are at telling those people a compelling, emotional story that’s tailored just for them, the more effective your marketing is going to be and the more efficient your marketing spend will become.
Inbound marketing is the only proven methodology that gives you all the tools, processes, systems and methodologies that deliver the kind of experience we’ve been talking about here. People are desperate for a high-quality and personal experience with their brands, and the ones that respond and deliver will dominate their markets. The ones that don’t will disappear.
Start Today Tip – It’s highly likely that you’re still executing some old-school marketing tactics, and direct mail might be one of them. At some point, you’re going to realize that the return on those investments is not improving. If you don’t start thinking about your options today, you might find yourself without any solid options for driving leads for your business. Look around you. What is the likelihood of mail becoming a bigger part of the marketing mix? Or, is Web and social going to increase more dramatically? If people want control of the information they digest, those self-service mediums have to be front and center in everyone’s marketing.
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