When building a marketing plan for your small business, you may be pitting two strategies against each other: direct mail vs. digital marketing. Or … you may have already considered direct mail down and out.

But, that isn’t the case. Let me persuade you with a story:

I thought direct mail was fully dead, capital D. Until I learned that the air ducts in my near 100-year-old home needed cleaning.

And for the first time in a while, I didn’t go straight to Google. Why? Because sitting in my mailbox was a direct mailer for a duct cleaner with my name on it and a discount. I hired them.

Was it serendipitous that a personalized postcard for the exact service I needed was delivered to my doorstep? Maybe. But I call it good marketing.

Direct Mail Isn’t Dead

In recent years we’ve seen massive technology adoption in businesses of all sizes. From marketing automation to cloud-based document storage and sharing.

Yet, despite this technological revolution, direct mail is a tried-and-true form of marketing that can have a positive impact on your bottom line.

A recent study found that direct mail campaigns generate purchases five times larger than email campaigns.

Remember this stat for later (there’s a twist, so stay with me).

Also, people like direct mail. They don’t want pointless junk mail, but a good deal from a reputable company is always a win.

Plus, people think it feels more personal than a lot of other online messaging. And it has a crazy-high open rate of 90%.

How Can I Use Direct Mail?

Direct mail can be used in a variety of ways, depending on your business goals. Furthermore, direct mail can be used at every stage of the sales funnel.

  • Building Awareness For many service-based businesses, your customers live pretty close to you. A mailer that says, “Dog grooming right around the corner” lets potential customers who might never have heard of you know solutions to their needs aren’t far away.
  • ConsiderationGet your customers to head over to your website to learn more about you. Provide a link to a unique landing page or QR code so you can track how many made the jump from physical to digital.
  • Making the Sale This is for customers who know you and might need a nudge to book an appointment. In this type of mailer you should offer your customers a discount or provide a call to action they can’t ignore.
  • Follow-up Post SaleSend postcards following a service appointment asking customers to refer you to a friend. Or provide an easy way for them to leave you a review.

Unlike emails, direct mail has an additional benefit. They can be kept in the home, in plain view, for days if not months.

People will hang postcards for deals on their refrigerators, or keep them on their desks until it’s time to redeem. These little billboards keep your company top of mind.

Who Should I Send Mailers To?

When it comes to sending physical mail, several options exist when deciding whose mailbox it should land in.

  • Existing customers This is why you have a customer relationship management (CRM) system with all your customers’ information. Grab their addresses and send them exclusive discounts, offers or even holiday and birthday cards, just to show you care.
  • A targeted audience This requires a little more legwork. Using a service like the the United States’ Postal Service’s (USPS) Every Door Direct Mail program, you can send mailers to select audiences. Criteria can include the neighborhood they live in or other demographic data like age, household size or income.

What Should My Mailer Look Like?

Direct mail pieces can range drastically in style and size based on your budget. As a general rule, make sure any marketing material is consistent with your brand, clearly shows your company logo and offers a strong call to action.

Direct Mail vs. Digital Marketing Which One is Better?

Digital marketing is here now. It’s a great way to reach larger audiences, connect with your customers and build brand awareness … fast. From email to social media, digital marketing is everywhere.

But, that doesn’t make it better or worse than direct mail. In fact, you shouldn’t be thinking direct mail vs. digital marketing, but rather, direct mail and digital marketing.

Here are some ways to combine physical mail with your digital marketing efforts.

  • Make it a Marketing Campaign Once you send a mail piece to your target audience, follow up a week or two later with an email as part of a larger campaign. Physical mail will capture your customers’ attention, prepping them for strong email calls to action that lead them to purchase.

Remember that statistic I said to remember? Well, let’s make it even better …

Research shows combining email with direct mail leads to purchases six times bigger than email alone.

  • Use a QR Code If you haven’t noticed, QR codes came rushing back into fashion in the last few years. By using them on physical mail, you can provide customers access to special deals with a swipe of their phone. They’re taken right to your website, where they can download contact information or interact with you on social media. And that’s just a short list.
Pro tip: When using QR codes make sure your link has a custom UTM code allowing you to track which customers used it.
  • Make it Digital Take your direct mail lists to the next level by taking advantage of USPS’s Informed Delivery. This feature sends people an email copy of what will be in their mailbox before it arrives at their house. Plus, you can monitor campaign results to see how your direct mailers are doing.

The most important thing to consider when tying physical mailers to digital campaigns is to keep your messaging consistent. You don’t want to confuse your customers. 

Making the Right Decision

In the end, when building a marketing strategy for your business, it’s not about choosing one method or another. It’s about leveraging a variety of tools and touch points that pave a streamlined, easy path leading customers to do business with you.

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