Thursday, March 29, 2012

Direct Mail Marketing vs. Email Marketing – Response Rates and Trends

Posted by Laura Powers

At Furia Rubel, we are frequently asked how email marketing campaigns measure up to classic direct mail marketing campaigns. Our answer is: they really don’t compare.

Law firm email marketing campaigns (like printed business-to-business traditional newsletter campaigns) have the primary objective of raising awareness for the firm and sharing firm news and accomplishments. This is why open rates, the number of people who click open an email, are so important.

When measuring classic direct mail marketing, we measure a response from the audience. There is no "open rate" data for direct mail. Since response rate is the measurement, the primary objective of a classic direct mail piece is to drive the customer to make contact with the company.

Q: Can you share any information on direct mail open rates vs. email open rates?

Classic direct mail open rates vary depending on the mailing list and the mailing piece. For this data, I always reference reports from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). A helpful example that answers the question is from DMA’s most recent data which shows that letter-sized envelopes mailed to in-house lists, generated from databases, Outlook or a CRM system, had a response rate of 3.42 percent in 2010. However, letter-sized envelopes mailed to purchased / prospects lists only had a response rate of 1.38 in 2010.

Q: Are email open rates getting lower while direct mail open rates are getting higher?

Classic direct mail response rates held steady from 2006 to 2010. While, we typically see a drop in open rates in client email marketing campaigns if the lists are not kept current, or the email content is not client-centric (i.e., there is only marketing messaging included or there is no valuable content included for the audience). Email marketing open rates are expected to continue to increase in the short-term. Currently, this is one of the most popular and favorable ways for businesses to connect with customers.

Q: Are the stats different for unsolicited junk mail vs. mail from your attorney or someone you do business with?

Yes, see above regarding in-house list vs. prospect list response rates.

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