LETTER: E-Mail and Direct Mail Response Rates

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I'm getting tired of e-mail marketing companies inaccurately comparing e-mail response rates vs. direct mail rates, such as in "How to Optimize Your


Opt-In Strategy" (http://www.dmnews.com/articles/2000-08-07/9864.html).


After hailing the "wealth" of e-mail contacts (hopefully they're verified opt-in) and reminding us how inexpensive it is to bombard everyone with commercial e-mail, the author gloats: "... opt-in e-mail's response rate is about 18 percent. Compare that figure with direct mail's paltry 1 percent to 2 percent."


Wait! We're talking click-through response rates. That's like opening the envelope of a direct mail piece and looking at the offer. Unfortunately, there aren't many studies of envelope-opening response rates so we could accurately compare them with clickthroughs.


To appropriately compare direct mail responses to e-mail, we need to consider conversion-to-sale rates. When someone responds to a direct mail piece, it's usually by returning an order form with a check or credit card number, or calling a phone number to place an order with a credit card. That's a sale! When someone clicks through on an e-mail message, they're usually not so committed to purchase at that point.
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