Postal mail, e-mail combo delivers double-digit response

E-mail marketing is not enough. You need to supplement it with old-fashioned, hard-copy postal mail. Tangible, direct and targeted, mail still has a valuable, strong pull.

When paired with an e-mail campaign, direct mail, which can be managed though the use of a mail tracking service to reach optimal in-home dates, can lead to double-digit response rates. Studies and surveys support the claim. Mail and e-mail delivered on the same day can lift your response rate above 10%.

Think about it. You've read article after article about how e-mail can stimulate your business, generate leads or subsidize your marketing program. But you know that when you launch that e-mail campaign, only 10% will open, then only 10% of that will click through the offer — and only then do you get customers willing to buy. So, despite the cost-effectiveness of e-mail, it is not enough on its own. Do you want to pay for a message that never reaches its intended audience?

While postal mail volumes might be shifting downward, mail still finds its way into consumers' hands more readily than e-mail marketing. In a survey performed by the Postal Service regarding consumers' relationships with their mail, 98% of consumers retrieve the mail the day it is delivered, and 77% sort though it immediately. This means a great mail piece with the right message can go squarely in the consumers' "to do" pile. I sure have one; it sits on a desk in my dining room and contains all of the bills and offers I receive in the mail. My wife and I look though them weekly to see if we can use them in the upcoming days.

Here is an example: A large clothing retailer put together a campaign to drive traffic to its stores. It sent out a targeted, timed e-mail to match the in-home date of a mailed coupon offer. This e-mail directed the recipient to look in their mailbox for a free tie offer. If they brought this mailed coupon to the store, they got the tie. The retailer discovered that customers who came in with the coupon also bought a minimum of two more items (usually a shirt and slacks).

Direct marketers need to have that e-mail campaign run in concurrence with a direct mail campaign. When you do this I can promise you at least a 10% increase in responses. Don't just take my word for it. Try it.

Ray Chin is VP of product development at GrayHair Software. Reach him at

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