Remember getting those really long sales letters in the snail mail? They were usually related to some red-hot stock tips guaranteed to skyrocket your income from $50 to $274,303 (it was always some weird unrounded figure).
Or it was about a miracle herbal supplement from deep in the Congo that would magically cure your male pattern baldness, impotence and acid reflux in just two minutes.
Or it would promise spiritual enlightenment, fulfilling relationships and endless prosperity if you just chanted this ancient Sanskrit phrase standing on your head five times a day.
All right…none of these things actually exist. But you get my drift.
There’s a lot to make fun of with direct response letters, but there’s no denying their successful track record…even with the dominance of online marketing.
(And yes…I do mean the quaint snail mail kind of direct response, not emails)
According to this article on the Online Marketing Institute website, direct response marketing can still pull a higher response rate than anything online, including emails or social media.
Check out these stats:
According to the Direct Mail Association (DMA) Factbook for 2013, 65% of consumers of all ages have made a purchase as a result of direct mail.
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%
Marketing guru Dan Kennedy swears by direct response as the most effective means to convert prospects into customers, or sell back-end products to existing customers.
He takes it a step further:
“The astute business owner understands that the purpose of a sale is to generate a customer. The lousy business owner thinks that the purpose of a customer is to generate a sale. One lasts much longer and has much more fun than the other.”
It’s a bit sobering, especially if you’ve poured a lot of time, money and resources into planning and perfecting your online marketing.
Why is this happening?
It’s not necessarily cost. While production and postage do require more capital in a direct mail campaign, the cost per lead averages out with online marketing, especially when you include pay-per-click ads.
The article points out several other critical factors in direct response’s success. Better quality lists, postcard campaigns, personalization and variations in packaging all help strengthen the case for sending your marketing message out the old-fashioned way.
Plus, direct mail campaigns just cut through the digital noise.
Estimate how many emails to do you personally receive each day. Now take that likely daunting number, and cut it down to the number of sales-oriented emails you get. They don’t have to be obvious. Consider it anything that has you click on a link to “Get more info” or “Find out more.”
Your number probably didn’t go down much, huh?
Now think about a direct mail letter announcing about something that you care about, whether it’s related to finance, health, self-help or a nonprofit. Chances are you only received 10-12 pieces of mail, including bills, magazines, credit card offers and cheap-o circulars.
That letter is going to stand out. And if it’s going to have a killer sales message with an irresistible teaser headline and eye-catching visuals, that’s so much the better.
In our home mailbox, I’ve personally noticed some travel marketers – Viking River Cruises, Backroads, Sea Kayak Adventures – who have sent brief brochures and postcards. I’m more inclined to look through these materials and remember them if I want to go on those kinds of vacations.
So how can you, as a travel marketer, benefit from direct response?
It’s as simple as sending out a postcard, offering a discount on your next vacation with an appealing four-color photograph showing that destination.
Or it could be a two to four-page letter detailing the benefits of going with your company over the other guys and the kind of unique experience your prospect will have. You’ll also need to include a phone number or an easy-to-access website, where you have an enticing landing page.
Or it could be offering some kind of small inexpensive token with the short letter, so your prospects have something tangible to remember your company. But make sure you have a great offer to go with it.
What kind of success have you had with direct response? Share your thoughts with me below!