Snail-mail blows away email for lead-gen

Would you email to a mailing list for lead-gen, or snail-mail it?

We marketers of limited means (time and staff, as much as money) love the email tools out there. Fire up SurveyMonkey and/or MailChimp, and bam!–leads and responses.

But we should reconsider our actions based on split-testing reported at B2BMarketingSmarts: Email lead generation — perception vs. reality.

“Primarily using their in-house list… we mailed 100,000 surveys directing the recipient to a pURL (personalized URL)…We also emailed 30,000 surveys with the exact same messages.”

“The result: The postal mail pulled 3.1% (3,100 leads); the email pulled less than .25% (75 leads)… An interesting side note: of the 3,100 responses from the postal mail, 800 sent in the paper survey.”

So of course it depends on how much this was a survey, and how much it was a marketing piece. It always depends on details like that. But the differences in response rates are pretty definitive, that should influence your strategic choice.

I don’t usually blog about direct marketing, but I want us to know that if you are embarking in slamming out an email looking for response, “you’re doin’ it wrong”.

10 Replies to “Snail-mail blows away email for lead-gen”

  1. Very interesting stats, and I like the questions they raise. I’m sure that certain demographics have some influence over which audience responds more to snail mail vs. email. Although as a copywriter I’m biased, I think the aim and quality of content is critical to a marketing piece – whether it’s paper or virtual. I recently wrote an email blitz for a client who wanted to provide clients and leads with free advice for ways to save on marketing, no strings. I’ll be interested to see whether or not that approach is “doin’ it right.”

  2. I find this very interesting. Personally I throw away all junk snail mail and only check my mailbox a couple of times per month. On the other hand, I have my email open every moment I’m awake. I do hate junk mail just as much as the next person though 🙂

  3. I find this very interesting. Personally I throw away all junk snail mail and only check my mailbox a couple of times per month. On the other hand, I have my email open every moment I’m awake. I do hate junk mail just as much as the next person though 🙂

  4. Judging success is not about response rates, it is about cost and ROI. So depending on what the survey responses were actually worth to the company, the direct mail may or may not have been worth it.

    Assuming the piece cost $1 to print and mail, they spent $100,000 for 3,100 “leads”, which is $32 per lead. And again, these leads were already in their database, so you just spent $32 to get additional information about them. Without knowing the business model and target customer acquisition costs or how that additional information helped improve lead quality or sales close rates, it’s impossible to know if this was a good campaign or not.

    I wonder what would have happened if they used email, but offered a $20 gift card to everyone who filled out the survey. I bet they would have gotten far more than 3,100 responses, and their cost per lead would have been 30% less than the program you described above ($20 vs. $32) with a much higher response rate. More leads at a lower cost sounds good to me…

  5. Judging success is not about response rates, it is about cost and ROI. So depending on what the survey responses were actually worth to the company, the direct mail may or may not have been worth it.

    Assuming the piece cost $1 to print and mail, they spent $100,000 for 3,100 “leads”, which is $32 per lead. And again, these leads were already in their database, so you just spent $32 to get additional information about them. Without knowing the business model and target customer acquisition costs or how that additional information helped improve lead quality or sales close rates, it’s impossible to know if this was a good campaign or not.

    I wonder what would have happened if they used email, but offered a $20 gift card to everyone who filled out the survey. I bet they would have gotten far more than 3,100 responses, and their cost per lead would have been 30% less than the program you described above ($20 vs. $32) with a much higher response rate. More leads at a lower cost sounds good to me…

  6. Push media isn’t dead – it’s just morphing. There is still a strength to it if expectations are appropriate and as long as it’s done right. Push media still introduces prospects to things they didn’t know they needed. While email is also a form of push media, it’s hard to discern its value amongst 64 other subject lines. Mail can sure still do that. A Web site – BTW – is there to introduce prospects to things they already know they need, but aren’t sure where to find them.

    (That’s not meant to be a policy, but it’s a darned good guide to use in terms of what message to put where.)

    And Mike, you’re spot-on. The value of the lead is ultimately determined by the quality of the lead, not the cost to get it.

  7. Push media isn’t dead – it’s just morphing. There is still a strength to it if expectations are appropriate and as long as it’s done right. Push media still introduces prospects to things they didn’t know they needed. While email is also a form of push media, it’s hard to discern its value amongst 64 other subject lines. Mail can sure still do that. A Web site – BTW – is there to introduce prospects to things they already know they need, but aren’t sure where to find them.

    (That’s not meant to be a policy, but it’s a darned good guide to use in terms of what message to put where.)

    And Mike, you’re spot-on. The value of the lead is ultimately determined by the quality of the lead, not the cost to get it.

  8. Very interesting stats, and I like the questions they raise. I'm sure that certain demographics have some influence over which audience responds more to snail mail vs. email. Although as a copywriter I'm biased, I think the aim and quality of content is critical to a marketing piece – whether it's paper or virtual. I recently wrote an email blitz for a client who wanted to provide clients and leads with free advice for ways to save on marketing, no strings. I'll be interested to see whether or not that approach is “doin' it right.”

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