Direct Mail… Dead or Alive?

Dear Friend,

I received a question recently and wanted to share it with you.

Is direct mail dead? It seems like since the cost of postage and printing keeps going up, it’s getting more and more expensive to get customers with direct mail. Why do you still recommend it?

I LOVE direct mail and I’ve been pretty successful with it.

But I’ve been most successful using it to sell back end products to my in-house customer list. Click here for an article explaining my epiphany about that when my back was against the wall. I figured out by NOT using direct mail over a period of 5 years I had cheated myself out of a small fortune.

In most cases, my customer is generated online and then marketed to via direct mail offline.

As I’ve seen e-mail response declining quite a bit over the past year and all kinds of e-mail deliverability issues… direct mail to my customer list is responsible for about 50% of my back end sales. If I relied solely on e-mail, I’d be in trouble.

I’ve found that I get double the response to a promotion sent by direct mail than the exact same promotion sent by e-mail.

I also discovered that an OFFLINE customer newsletter doubled the amount of time customers stayed in my continuity program. Online newsletters and e-mail newsletters had absolutely no effect at all. It seems there is much higher perceived value in offline newsletters.

Companies like Phillips, Agora and Healthy Directions still use direct mail pretty heavily for customer acquisition but they have the deep pockets to do it. Most of the time they actually go negative (it costs more to get the customer than the selling price of the product) in acquiring a customer. But they know their lifetime customer value and can make back the negative acquisition cost in back end sales.

You really have to know your numbers to make direct mail work for customer acquisition. I’ve done it (and am still doing it) but it takes a lot more “skull sweat” than quickly whipping out a “half-assed” online campaign. You can get away with a lot more transgressions with your online promotions and still make it work. Not so much with direct mail for customer acquisition.

I highly recommend you generate the sale online and then use direct mail to market to them after the initial sale.

Hope that helps!

All the best,
Doberman Dan