How many emails did you receive yesterday? Over 50? Over 100? As email marketing becomes more and more popular as a marketing medium, it is no secret that the number of emails filling up people’s inboxes is growing exponentially. Unfortunately, this is not a good sign for email marketers, because it means that every email has to overcome much more competition in order to get opened, let alone clicked on. We call this “Digital Overload”, and it severely limits the efficacy of email marketing efforts.
This concept of marketing overload is nothing new; it is a natural byproduct of any marketing technique increasing or decreasing in popularity. Direct mail has also seen its heyday in this respect. A couple of decades ago, when direct mail marketing was all the rage, we saw this same phenomenon: mailboxes were stuffed so full of promotional mail that the efficacy of each direct mail piece was significantly diminished.
As you may have guessed, this is why marketers are constantly trying to stay ahead of the game by discovering or inventing new marketing techniques before everyone else: They don’t want the efficacy of their marketing techniques to be diluted by a surge of popularity.
So, what does digital overload have to do with direct mail marketing? Although we don’t hear about it nearly as often, there is another way to avoid this dilemma of marketing overload. In addition to discovering innovative new techniques, we can also embrace older marketing strategies that have fallen out of favor with the general marketing community. This is where direct mail comes in. Direct mail is often dismissed as outdated, because it is no longer sexy or exciting. However, as more and more marketers are abandoning the realm of direct mail for the trendy email world, direct mail has actually seen a significant boost in its effectiveness, precisely because it is no longer popular.
Digital overload has another effect on direct mail as well. We, as a nation, are deeply entrenched in nostalgia for times past. As digital overload becomes increasingly pronounced, it also becomes representative of modernity. This causes many consumers to return to direct mail as their advertising medium of choice, not only because they are bombarded by too many emails, but also because it is reminiscent of simpler times. Direct mail can be comforting, especially to those who feel they are drowning in emails.
Now, does this mean that you should give up on email marketing altogether and put all of your marketing efforts into direct mail? No. That would be the equivalent of putting all of your eggs in one basket. We are big proponents of a balanced marketing mix, and email marketing absolutely deserves a role in that mix, alongside direct mail. Consumers are incredibly diverse, and some do prefer to receive advertisements by email; you should be accommodating those preferences if it makes sense for your business.
However, I would argue that, by dismissing direct mail and focusing exclusively on email marketing, many businesses are missing out on a valuable opportunity. Now is the perfect time to start integrating direct mail into your marketing strategy; competition is down and ROI is high. Don’t let trendiness dictate your marketing decisions; let the money do the talking. Digital overload may be direct mail’s best friend, so take advantage of it.