Database Marketing, Direct Mail vs Email

As someone that has been in database marketing for over 2 decades I have had my share of deep experience in both direct mail and email variable data driven forms of direct marketing.

Email is a dying service and is going to go away in it’s current form.

We started by building our own email broadcast and link tracking tools back in the late 90’s.  We were in email marketing from 1995 to 2005 as an add-on to our direct mail services. Back then it was HOT and NEW and everyone wanted in, but so few people knew what they were doing so we enjoyed a decade of great prosperity.

But then in 2005 we got out all together just as a swarm of vendors and competitors were getting in. There was still a lot of money to be made in email after we got out but we recognized the fight those vendors were entering into.

There is a real ugly truth about email marketing that the companys buying the service do not know that definitely hurts them.  When you send even 1 message it has to go through multiple firewalls, mutliple virus scans, multiple email processing rules and multiple spam filters.

If it makes it past all those gatekeepers and lands in your prospects in-box they can tag you as SPAM that very second. That action affects all those same gateways and spam filters for each message that follows it.

Then, 10 minutes later you send an email to your customer to ask them about an order you are working on and your email message gets blocked by their spam filters. All because now you have been recorded as a spamming company. I guess the rule of thumb is if you don’t want to be treated like garbage marketing, don’t put your message next to the garbage in someones inbox.

We saw this coming, it was getting bad years ago and the writing was clearly on the wall. Email results are also at historical record lows too.  Low responses and a technical nightmare are not a recipe for success.

I have been talking about this for months with my peers but I guess I decided to blog about it today because I spent 3 hours removing an email virus from someones computer. What a pain in the ass and an uneccessary use of everyones time. There are so many other ways to communicate that don’t risk your entire it investments.

As someone who manages a firewall, one of the biggest security breaches we deal with on any given day is EMAIL. Email my friends, will not be around in it’s current form and I would not invest any current dollars moving in that direction.  For real electronic success you should chase SEO combined with social media like facebook marketing as well as others growing in popularity.

Then, really get to know your direct mail program. Direct mail is the most courteous of all forms of non-electronic marketing. It is still also the most focused, trackable, adjustable, shareable, savable, copyable, calcuable form of marketing.

But beware, there are spammers in direct mail too.  There are more spam marketers in direct mail than there are true direct mail marketing companys. These vendors will make you look bad and get your message thrown away just like email can be.

Nothing makes me sadder for a company then when I lose a bid by $100 to a printer and that company loses thousand$ in response and the direct mail information that comes with it.  Lowering their prices is the only tool in a printers bag compared to a real direct mail company that offers full service and full results.

Find out where your vendors core focus is. If they are primarily a printer or a print broker, forget about it.  Find database junkies, variable data printing and response pros. That is our niche, that’s where real direct mail lives and breathes. Experienced direct mail people know it and their businesses thrive off their direct mail results.

Real direct mail marketing isn’t broadcast print, it is made up of multiple data sources, multiple data-relevant messages, calls to action, results tracking and offer adjusting based on results.

You don’t get that from a printer, that’s direct mail baby.

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