Friday, February 19, 2010

Social Media vs Email

The rapid onset and growth of social media into prominent fixtures in our daily lives is remarkable, but it hasn’t replaced e-mail as the preferred method of receiving B2B information.  People now have the ability to connect to peers using a variety of networks like Twitter and Facebook from their cell-phones, and many of the millions of cellular phone customers do so.   It makes sense that B2B companies looking to sell products or services have also taken to advertising using social media.

A recent survey published by Marketing Sherpa showed that 18% of marketers believed that their customers viewed social networks as their preferred medium for receiving information about products and services.  However marketers looking to get ahead of the competition may have jumped on the social media bandwagon a bit too soon.  The same study showed that only 12% of buyers valued social networks as their primary source for new product or service information.  The majority of both marketers and buyers agree that an internet search is the best way to obtain this new data, but what was the buyers’ second choice?

E-mail, was the favored method for receiving new product or service information for 32% of the surveyed buyers.  The rise of online searches and social media may have caused marketers to write email off as an obsolete method for communicating with customers – only 20% of marketers surveyed believed that buyers preferred receiving product or service related emails.  The success of social networks does not necessarily signify the death of email as a marketing tool. In fact, email is still considered the most targeted and measurable medium. While social media is a good source for gathering general information and finding facts, email motivates action.


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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mail Just Won't Die!

Years ago, industry forecasts predicted that the rise of the Internet and email would eliminate the need for direct mail.  Now that email has become ingrained into society, should we prepare for life without daily visits from the mail-truck?

Definitely not.  Last year, the United States Postal Service delivered 203 billion pieces of mail – an average of 3.9 billion per week – to 134 million addresses.  This is almost six-billion more pieces than in 1998.  Old-fashioned, “snail-mail” generated $75 billion in revenue in 2008 for the USPS. 

Direct mail is still the marketer's most widely used tool.  In fact, direct mail is the media of choice for marketers to drive people to their website.  Why?  Because it is still the most selective, scalable and measurable form of advertising.

But that is not all.  Email, while typically cheaper and faster than traditional mail, has its limitations, such as lower response rates (versus direct mail), deliverability issues with more sophisticated spam filters and image blockers, the need to find reliable list sources, stringent CANSPAM policies, and size limits and after all, not everyone has email. 

We recommend a multi-media approach, where budgets allow.  Statistics show that campaigns using both print and electronic mediums boast higher response rates.  We proved this out most recently with a B2C baked goods client.  In an effort to save their way to success, they decided not to mail their catalog to their customer base, instead relying solely on email communications during their 2007 holiday season.  The result?  A significant decrease in the year-over-year customer retention rate, and disappointing sales during their critical holiday period.  Upon our review and recommendation, in 2008 they mailed their current and lapsed customers, in addition to the email blasts.  This strategy yielded a 72% increase in the retention rate.  And in a down economy, sales were up significantly.  The ROI on the customer mailing was at 250%!  Was cutting out the customer catalog mailing really a good idea? 

The bottom line is that 88% of marketing experts use more than one medium to generate results (DMA – Integrated Marketing Media Mix Report).  And companies that sell from catalogs attribute 44% of their sales to their print catalog mailings.  The 2008 Catalog Report from the DMA's Statistical Fact Book reveals two key facts:

·         The number of catalogs mailed continues to increase year-over-year despite the web and rising print and postage costs

·         100% of respondents had a website, but only 11% considered them to be their principal order drivers.  That means success requires more than an, “If you build it, they will come,” mentality.

The conclusions that can be drawn from this are that the big catalog companies (who consequently know more than anyone else about effectiveness and efficiency) are not eliminating their print catalogs for a reason.  Knowledgeable direct marketers are using multi-media and know that they cannot rely on email and paid search alone.  And no, direct mail is not dead!


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