Kern: Direct Mail Response Increasing Over Online

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Two years ago, online marketing was doing better than direct mail. But a dramatic shift has occurred in the past six to 12 months, Russell M. Kern said during yesterday’s four-hour pre-conference intensive at the B-to-B Marketing Conference.

“With the amount of spam filters and e-mail filters, direct mail, when done properly, is bringing strong response, [meaning] it is cost-effective response, [and] that’s all that matters,” Kern, president of Kern Direct, Woodland Hills, CA, said in the question-and-answer portion of his session. “And it’s also bringing better-qualified individuals.”

When asked how people are responding, Kern said it depends upon the category being marketed to.

“Technology professionals, when you market to them, I would say about 70 to 80 percent of them will respond online,” he said. “But there will still be a percentage that will return the BRC mail that’s in there.”

The numbers change for other industries — such as human resources professionals, general business executives, industrial engineers, physicians or small-business owners — or for anyone who is not online daily as part of their normal life.

“Depending on how the promotion is done, I could see anywhere in the neighborhood of 40, 50, 60 percent of response done through the traditional BRC with 20 percent going online, and some people like to fax back. Believe it or not, fax is still there as a response mechanism, ’cause they’re going back to the old stuff. They’re going to do whatever is convenient.”

He urged attendees to include in their promotions mail, Web, fax and inbound telephone response options.

“If you leave off any of those, what you’re doing is leaving off a chance to get a response,” he said. “You’re not going to drive behavior. You’re going to have some people just fall off.”

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