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Revenge of the Snail (mail)

Ah yes, pity the poor snail. He plods along contentedly while the rest of our Can’t-Wait-for-Anything culture whizzes by waving while checking endless messages and updates.  

Snails provide a very useful purpose in gardens by eating debris and promoting the recycling of dead plants.  I’m told they are delicious and quite nutritious (minus all the butter from fancy French cooking but then, what’s the point?). I have to say I’ve never thought of ordering escargot at the bistro but that doesn’t mean I don’t hold snails in the highest esteem.

So what about “snail mail”?  Those of us in the envelope converting, envelope printing and direct mail printing industries have been hearing this clever canard for decades now.  It’s generally used with a dismissive tone that the speaker seems to think conveys a certain superiority or irony as in, “I also sent it to you snail mail; you’ll get it at some point – whatevs”.  Yes, we get it all right – it’s just soooo slowww! I mean, it might take a whole day or two to arrive. Just think of all the “Likes” one can receive during that time.

Now the speed of texts, e mails, etc. is a great thing provided people actually respond in a timely manner (don’t get me started on that!)  With a few keystrokes you can line up appointments, expedite orders, write a blog article and do all sorts of great things that used to take much longer.  But what about receiving a call to action in the mail requires it to arrive instantly?  Nothing really.  So the speed of mail – and I’m talking about direct mail right now – is not really relevant to its mission.

After all, what direct mailers and direct marketers are looking for is a healthy response and a return on the investment. On those criteria, direct mail works extremely well compared to e mail. 

Laurie Beasley of the Online Marketing Institute issued a paper in June of 2013 entitled Why Direct Mail Still Yields the Lowest Cost-Per-Lead and Highest Conversion Rate. She writes that, “According to the Direct Mail Association (DMA) Fact book for 2013, 65% of consumers of all ages have made a purchase as a result of direct mail.”  The paper also states that “According to Direct Mail News, in 2012 the average response rate for direct mail was 4.4% for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer mailings—considerably higher than industry expectations, and surging past electronic mail’s response rate of just 0.12%.”

What about ROI you ask?  Ms. Beasley makes the point that while print production will certainly cost more than an e mail campaign, the proper way to gauge effectiveness is tracking the cost-per-lead. By this measure, direct mail outperforms other forms of advertising.

The savvy marketer understands that it’s not just an either/or proposition. For instance, including a URL to a landing page in the mail piece gives the potential customer the opportunity to actually make the purchase online which many people prefer.

So All Hail to the mighty snail!

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