August 2011

Supply Side

Mail versus email

By Jon Baird

Choosing the right option

A key goal in any marketing program is to communicate proactively with a target audience. In addition to advertising in print and online media, and the relatively expensive alternative of telephone or personal sales calls, direct communication by post or email is a choice that marketers have to make.

The immediacy and low cost of email is appealing to many businesses these days, but there still is a place for direct mail. The media that you use should fit your brand. If you are selling high-end capital goods or consulting services, you may choose a different approach than if you are selling mining consumables.

Marketers are always searching for the most cost-effective means of communicating and, well, email is cheap. However, some tests in the consumer field have revealed that when sales and return-on-investment are considered, postal delivery is the superior option.

It certainly seems that more and more email is being used for customer relationship management, especially in situations where there is a pre-established relationship. To broaden their reach, marketers are opting for email blasts and, to this end, are doing all they can to collect permission-based email addresses.

Things to consider

Before choosing the medium, consider asking your clients if they have a preference as to how they wish to receive communications and at what frequency. Your marketing objective is also important to determine, as some messages may be better suited to one medium rather than another.

Lists are another matter. If your firm has a robust customer relations management (CRM) database, you have correct postal and email addresses for both your existing and prospective clients. If it does not, you can purchase a list, but it may be difficult to acquire one tailored to your purposes. In this case, print or online advertising may be a more effective option.

Budget is always a factor, but remember that whatever communications medium you choose, the message has to be well-crafted – do not scrimp on the message itself! Content, design and strategy are all critical elements to consider when beginning and sustaining the “customer conversation.” Regardless of which medium you choose, you should develop a regular format, content outline and publication schedule, and plan the year’s topics.

In the rush to use email to market products or services in the past several years, organizations have learned that it is the ideal option for the instant communication of brief messages and sales confirmations, and as a response mechanism for clients. There is a growing desire for immediacy. Clients do not want to wait for further information, they want it now, either by emailing you or clicking through to your website.

On the other hand, many peoples’ email is poorly managed, with inboxes overflowing. Think of how many emails you get personally, what you do with them and how many get caught in your spam filter. Today, much more direct mail arrives electronically compared to by post, which makes the latter an attractive option. How to break through the email clutter so that people read your message is a major challenge.

Email, however, does not have the same impact as the physical delivery of a meaningful item in the post. CAMESE’s auditors have a bottle of  port delivered to me every Christmas. It would be difficult to send that by email!

Jon Baird
Jon Baird, managing director of CAMESE and the immediate past president of PDAC, is interested in collective approaches to enhancing the Canadian brand in the world of mining.

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