Which Is Better Direct Mail or Online Marketing?

In a digital world, your physical address is no longer necessary for your customers to get in touch with you. That’s because you can (and often should) be found online.

When it comes to marketing and sales, you’ll often hear about the advantages and disadvantages of each channel. But, which is better? Finding the right answer to this question will help you make the right decision for your business.

The Pros and Cons Of Direct Mail

Sometimes, the answer is quite simple. In the case of direct mail, the advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages. Even if you’re a tiny business, you can probably benefit from using direct mail to get in touch with your customers and potential customers. You can give it a try with no risk and little investment.

Here are just a few of the perks of direct mail.

It Has A Long History

Did you know that direct mail has been around since the early 1900s? Or, at least, it was around then. You can bet your sweet socks that this form of marketing will always have a place in the marketplace. Why? Because people love to read letters, and it’s an inexpensive and accessible way to communicate.

Since the dawn of time, people have used the postal service to both deliver and receive letters. So, even if you’re starting a new business today, you can be assured that someone, somewhere will have used direct mail to get in touch before you. That’s great news for you, because you can be sure that there will be customers or potential customers who have previously done business with the company you’re trying to reach out to.

It Has An Unbeatable Reach

Think of all the magazines you’ve seen and all the blogs you’ve consumed that focused on marketing and sales. Whether you love to read blogs or prefer to take in content in long-form articles, you’re sure to have encountered a lot of information about marketing and sales. And you’d be right! In today’s digital world, Google and other search engines can help you find almost anything, anytime.

So, if you want to market your product or service to the millions of people who read blogs, you can bet that they’ve heard of you. And, even if they haven’t heard of you, you can bet that they will once you start sending out your letters. It’s almost unfair the power of direct mail.

Traditional Media Meets The Online World

One of the biggest changes that came with the rise of the digital age is how traditional media (such as magazines and newspapers) met the online world. For decades, people turned to these “old school” media sources to read about the latest trends and developments in the world of marketing and sales. But, with the advancement of technology, that all changed. Newspapers became “dead trees” drowsy from staring at a screen for so long and magazines became digital-only publications.

Instead of heading to a news stand to get your magazines, you can now read them on your phone or tablet. Similarly, instead of listening to the radio to hear about what’s hot and what’s not, you can now follow the news and gossip on social media. That’s because your customers (and potential customers) are no longer limited to the people who read your magazine or newspaper. They can be anywhere, anytime, as long as there’s an internet connection.

It Has An Audience That Likes To Be Reached

One of the biggest advantages of direct mail is that you can be sure to reach some kind of audience. That’s because the people who receive your magazine or newspaper are usually either interested in the topic or, at least, have an open mind about it. They’re often not as familiar as you are with the latest trends and technologies for marketing and sales. So, they’ll appreciate receiving a thoughtful letter or email explaining those things to them.

As mentioned by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4 A’s), your target audience will often determine the nature of your advertising campaign (e.g. is it digital or traditional, online or off-line, etc.). It’s a good idea to find out who your audience is, so you can tailor your strategy to reach them.

It Helps You Measure Your Success

Unlike many other forms of marketing, you can actually track the results of your direct mail marketing efforts. That’s because, when you send out your letters, you’ll usually get a report back on how many people opened the email, how many clicked on the link, and how many purchased the product or service after being contacted through the link.

These numbers will tell you, unequivocally, whether or not your direct mail marketing campaign was successful. You’ll know, at the end of the day, if the money you spent was well spent.

The Drawbacks

While there are many benefits to direct mail, it also has some pretty significant drawbacks.

It’s Expensive

In most cases, the price of a stamp will exceed the cost of a small meal. It’s all about whether or not you want to spend money on a luxury or need. But, if you’re looking to invest in something that will pay back with interest, you can’t go wrong with direct mail. It’s true that a lot of very small businesses aren’t able to invest in expensive marketing and sales strategies. But, for those who can, the benefits clearly outweigh the costs.

It’s Time-Consuming

Even for the most motivated and prolific of entrepreneurs, there’s no getting around the fact that establishing a direct mail marketing strategy takes a lot of time. You’ll need to draft emails or print materials, find a mailing list, and then do a lot of marketing research to figure out who you should be targeting.

The key takeaway here is that, while it might be tempting to just send out hundreds of thousands of emails, social media, and online ads to grab the attention of your audience, direct mail is ultimately a more effective method. Why? Because your audience has to be reached! And, once they’re reached, they’re more prone to buy your product or service. So, you can bet that they’ll appreciate the fact that you took the time to reach out to them personally.

On the other hand, while you might be able to measure the results of your Facebook or Google ads, it’s a different story when it comes to the intangible benefits of online marketing. Because there’s no guarantee that reaching a large audience will result in actual sales. It could simply mean that you’ve reached a large audience, in which case, you’ll probably achieve your goal of gaining more customers without having to invest in expensive direct mail strategies.

What Is Online Marketing?

If you’re reading this article, I assume that you’re already familiar with the basics of marketing, sales, and advertising. But, for the benefit of those who aren’t, let’s discuss the basics of online marketing.

The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4 A’s) defines online marketing as “the marketing and sales activities conducted primarily through digital channels and including email marketing, social media marketing, and web banner advertising.” So, in a nutshell, online marketing is all the activities that you do (or don’t do) in order to get potential customers to visit your website. And, once they’re there, make them stay a while, read your content, and maybe even make a purchase. Sounds pretty straightforward, right?

While it’s true that you can do a great deal of marketing and sales (and potentially, even make a few bucks) without ever having to leave the house, online marketing is so much more than that.

Why Should You Use Online Marketing?

The rise of the digital age has made it possible for businesses of all sizes to have an online presence. What’s more, the internet is aglobal marketplace. That means that, regardless of where you are or what country you’re in, there’s always someone, somewhere who can help you.

As a business owner, it’s your duty to be accessible to your customers. And, with the help of an online marketer, that’s easier said than done. Believe it or not, but busy schedules and the constant flow of emails make it surprisingly hard to stay in touch with your customers. So, if you want to keep your customers (and, hopefully, make some new ones), you’ll need to find a solution. That solution is online marketing.