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Digital v Direct Mail. Does ‘Speed Kill (responses)’?

One of the best marketing books I have ever read (well referred to – it’s not a book to read as such) is ‘Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing’ by one of the all time greats, Drayton Bird.

If you’ve never heard of Drayton Bird – then Google him, its what we do these days when we want to know, immediately, the facts and figures on any subject under the sun. Knowledge is instant and so is the use of that knowledge.

Anyway back to ‘Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing’, it’s a classic book, first published in 1989, and one that everyone in the direct marketing industry should read. The title used to be ‘Commonsense Direct Marketing’ but was updated in 2007 to include ‘Digital’.

Digital encompasses many things and ‘digital’ is somehow more sexy, modern and ‘of its time’. But really it is just another technology developed to help humans communicate – and its something we do really well. We are addicted to communication and the faster it has become – the more we feel obliged to say. We are bombarded with so many messages and at such speed that we have developed a very unhealthy disregard for retaining information.

In Drayton’s book, he draws very real parallels between the paper-based world of direct marketing and its digital counterparts. Everything we now do digitally we can still do with paper – but digital communications are responded to with much greater speed.

This speed and access has given us great opportunities to send marketing messages out at low cost and high volume. But as experience is showing, this is not all good news.

Email marketing – whilst low cost – is declining in response. Having a website is now not enough – competition is such that it has to be optimized for both visitor usage and search engine performance. Social networking is possibly reaching a peak as a marketing tool, but there is still a long way to go yet.

And still sitting in the wings is paper-based direct mail – it has never gone away. In a recent report, by the US DMA, highlights that direct mail responses are up to 30 times higher than e-mail. And reflecting this is the Mail Media Centre 2010 report that shows that 91% of prospect direct mail is opened.

And don’t forget that a catalogue is simply another piece of direct mail, but it is one that has the highest opening rates and highest retention rates of any other.

So is it a case of ‘Speed Kills (responses)’? Are we exposed to so much instant information that we dispose of it as quickly as it arrived. Almost treating it with contempt?

A catalogue or other direct mail can connect in a totally different way to digital. For a start, it has a physical presence and can communicate by the way it feels, smells and unfolds in your hands. We can even include free gifts.

And all the evidence suggest that customers are enjoying the experience of receiving some thing in the post – and responding accordingly.

To discus your catalogue or direct mail strategy please feel free to call me on 0845 2300 258 of email me at [email protected]