E-mail Or Snail: Why Not Both?

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E-mail marketing has become widely accepted as a highly responsive direct marketing medium. Some wonder if they should choose e-mail marketing in lieu of postal marketing. I ask, why not both? The fact is that each method provides marketers with different advantages to reach their intended targets. By combining the advantages of both, through a process we refer to as "multi-mailing," marketers can realize outstanding results.

Postal mail pieces affect the buying process differently than e-mail. The former, in the form of catalogs and brochures, tends to stay on the desk for a while. People can hold it, view it, refer it, file it and, hopefully, respond to it. E-mail is immediate. It appeals to our impulsive nature. Either the recipient will respond to it or they won't. By following up your direct mail campaign with e-mail, you can influence the person who is holding on to your brochure and is as yet undecided, or has forgotten about using your product or service.

One thing we have learned is that we should offer people more than one way to respond. Targeting with both a postal and e-mail campaign gives your prospect or client two different ways to respond to you - in a method and at a time and place of their choosing. In addition, multi-mailing has the added benefit of making it easier for the prospect to respond. What's more, sending your proffer twice offers an opportunity to raise the visibility of your company and reinforce its message, making it more likely that prospects will respond.

Aside from higher response, there are other major benefits to multi-mailing (postal plus e-mail). They are timeliness, lower costs and the ability to do one-to-one personalization.

A case in point:

Three months prior to the event, Electronic Industry Conference (an alias) mailed a brochure to previous conference attendees as well as to the active subscribers of Electronic Products Magazine, a highly targeted audience of electronics engineers and managers.

They then followed up with a series of

e-mail messages to the same people who received the brochure, by using the opt-in e-mail addresses of the Electronic Products E-mail Subscriber List. The transmissions to EP's e-mail subscribers were scheduled twelve-, six- and two-weeks prior to the conference. During this series, based on test results, EIC was able to change the copy to entice people to sign up for the show, without the long lead time that is required to go back to press.

They were also able to advise prospective attendees of new sessions offered and whatever changes were made to the scheduled keynote speakers. EIC was able to personalize its messages with "special one-to-one discounts" for signing up now. The attendee was prompted to get the discount by clicking on a Web link to EIC's Web site and entering a "Preferred Attendee Priority Code." The code, supplied in the e-mail message, allowed EIC to track and tabulate the response.

In one unique benefit of e-mail marketing, commonly referred to as "the viral marketing effect, the mailer was able to request that the recipient "forward" the

e-mail to a colleague. E-mail can be forwarded in an instant with the click of a mouse, making it much easier to send to friends and colleagues than conventional paper mail. Evidence suggests that this approach can be just as effective in consumer mailings as well.

There are many great commercially available lists offering the ability to send your message to both postal and e-mail addresses. But be careful to ask your list broker to verify that the people on these files have given their permission to receive e-mail.

The next time you are confronted with the option of choosing postal or e-mail, think about doing both.

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