Stop! Business Owners, don’t Buy any more stamps — Until You’ve read this blog post.

Royal mail announces a huge jump in the price of stamps.

This week the Royal Mail announced that the price of stamps will go up this will take the price of a first class stamp to 65p, and second class to 56p.  A stamp for large first class letter will rise by 2p to 98p. A large second class letter will go up by 1p to 76p.

Why should this merit your attention, after all it’s a modest increase that for the vast majority of businesses will have little or no effect. At the same time the Royal Mail announced the price rise it was also revealed that letter usage had declined by 6% in the nine months to December.

Why this matters.

If you want to sell your products or services then it’s key that your prospects get to know about you and what you offer. For most small business owners email has long since been considered as a marketing medium that provides maximum reach for minimal investment and has served as an essential element of many a marketing campaign across all industries.

However Direct mail, i.e a letter in the post, is seen as old hat and not particularly effective and has largely fallen out of fashion.

These two mediums are widely different. Offering contrasting benefits and being suited to sometimes completely different audiences, industries or particular campaigns. So the question then is how you choose between them for your marketing needs, and, when all’s said and done, who comes out as king of the marketing mediums: Direct mail or Email?

Let’s look at email usage first of all.

Email: Pros

Email is cheap and fast.

Email is very cheap and easily available for the small business owner. Free email marketing apps such as mailchimp are easy to use and done right it still makes for a great form of marketing with a great potential ROI (return on investment).

Email is great for data analysis

Not only can your message be delivered immediately, you also benefit from results that are fully analysable through email campaign management software (perfect for honing future campaigns). Data feedback can include bounce, open and click through rates, to name but a few.

Email: Cons

Spamming is making it harder for everyone

Unfortunately the email marketing landscape has been made pretty bleak in recent years owing to a tidal wave of spam that we’re all subjected to. To put it bluntly we’re quite simply, sick of. This makes it more difficult for the email marketer as they do battle with inbox authenticity and receivers who are increasingly short on time.

Building a solid email list takes time

Gone are the days of buying cheap contact lists and expecting the world. Today you must build email lists through incentives, pre-approved permission and direct sign ups. Today such tasks take time and effort.

Email is pretty limiting

Email features plenty of limitations upon the creativity and despite advances this remains a medium that can generally only deliver moderately good looking materials.

Desktop email use declining.

More email is read on a Mobile device than on desktop email clients. Statistics  say 55% of email is now opened on a mobile device – Litmus “Email Analytics” (March 2016). So your email will likely be assessed (not necessarily read) on the go.

What about direct mail

Direct mail is more flexible than ever before

From including printed QR codes which can take your future prospect directly to your website with a scan of their smartphone, through to printing on irresistible instant discounts on postcards, direct mail really is more flexible than ever before.

Direct mail is seeing impressive modern interaction

Research has found that direct mail is no longer the dull junk mail marketing medium of old and today clever marketers are successfully harnessing this method for encouraging social media activity, downloads, online purchases and audience/business rapport.

Direct mail can provide all the space that you need

In comparison to email direct marketing provides all the space that you need to tell your story, whatever it may be. It’s your one on one time with your prospect. Even the greatest email campaign will not get a 100% open rate, whereas its direct mail campaigns can and do get 100% open rates.

Direct mail provides the platform to convey and encourage emotion

Email users are in a rush. They may be checking their emails whilst commuting, or squeezing it in at lunch or before dinner. They don’t have time for emotions. However direct mail can provide readers with both space and time to read the materials in their own time and so you’re far freer with what can be expressed.

So what happens when your prospect receives direct mail?

  • 92% are driven to online or digital activity.
  • 87% are influenced to make online purchases.
  • 86% feel connected to the business sending them the direct mail.
  • 54% engage with social media.
  • 43% download something.
  • 79% of prospects react immediately to a direct mail piece compared to less than 45% who immediately react to an email.
  • Direct mail generates at least 10% more customers than email.

These findings are from the Royal Mail and show how effective direct mail can be at driving prospects to interact with the business sending them something through the mail.

Direct Mail: Cons

Direct Mail is expensive

Direct mail costs money, and sometimes lots of it depending upon the materials that you use. Done wrong a direct mail campaign will cost a lot whereas an email campaign done wrong will cost little.

So why does the price rise matter?

There are some business owners who are not particularly switched on to direct mail and this price rise will deter them even more. Which means that there will be less competition at the mailbox for your direct mail piece. So for those switched on small business owners who know how to use direct mail they will get an even higher ROI on every piece they send. So here’s to the post office and the price of stamps.