The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) recently announced a $3.5-billion loss in third quarter 2010. USPS attributes this largely to the drop in mail volume – which is down a whopping 20 percent since 2007. There is no question that a reduction in direct mail is responsible for this. Whether companies are replacing their mail marketing activities with e-mail and social media, or cutting back on marketing in general, the trend away from mail has been clear for some time.
While more expensive than e-mail, good, old-fashioned snail mail still has its place, particularly in the b-to-b world. I touched on this idea here, and think it’s an important point to bring up in light of USPS’ enduring struggles. Most companies can’t, and shouldn’t replace mail entirely with electronic communications. Here are some tips on using direct mail appropriately and efficiently:
- Find out how your customers like to receive their communications, and plan marketing campaigns accordingly. Do they use electronic invitations often? If they’ve never heard of Evite, for example, think twice before forgoing printed invitations to your company’s next important event.
- Use mail when the stakes are high and you want to make a splash. People are more likely to look at and remember nicely done printed pieces. They may even tack them to their cubicle walls.
- Be selective. Mail is expensive, so don’t waste your resources on unqualified contacts. If you’re on a budget, make sure that your direct mail lists are targeted and that the design and copy of your mail pieces are equally targeted to those audiences.
- Integrate with the Web. Just because you’re using mail doesn’t mean you should abandon more technologically advanced mediums: Drive people to your website or campaign-specific landing pages and encourage them to connect with you through social media using vanity or personalized URLs on your mailers.
While the USPS may be flailing, mail should not be overlooked as a relevant form of direct marketing.