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Email Marketing vs. Direct Mail: A Tortoise & Hare Fable Revisited

Email Marketing vs. Direct Mail: A Tortoise & Hare Fable Revisited

Posted 03/06/2009 by Gareth Cutter

Taking some artistic license with the original fable (which I hope you're all familiar with) imagine for a second that the tortoise and the hare are racing for the same team. No matter which one wins, their team will get the prize money. Now instead of seeing each other as competitors, the two of them decide to put their heads together and come up with a mutually beneficial strategy; one that is based on their unique attributes and gives them each a higher chance of winning and taking the prize money home.

Suffice to say your marketing channels should not be competing against one another when trying to win business. They should be playing supportive roles.

A recent study has shown that as few as 16% of direct-mail campaigns, including flyers, postcards, magazines and brochures ever ask for an email address. Many recipients stated they would be happy to include an email address provided there was an incentive, so where is the sense in not asking for this information? As long as it isn't made obligatory and impedes on the main offer, the worst that can happen is the recipient says 'no'.

These days, it isn't enough to be multi-channel when the channels aren't integrated. In fact, you risk annoying customers and causing more problems than if you were single channel, with stock allocations being fought over, customer preferences being ignored etc. Look into ways of combining your multiple marketing channels and feeding them into a customer relationship management (CRM) program. This way you could convert more prospects into customers through a variety of different channel combinations.

And remember: email can learn as much from direct-mail as vice versa. For instance, does your email marketing ask for subscribers' postal addresses as well? Not only will collecting this data help you profile and segment your mailing lists accordingly, it will help you to target direct mail campaigns for stronger offers. So make sure your marketing channels are all on the same team and we'll see you at the finish line.

With apologies to Aesop

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