Direct mail alternatives include email marketing, search advertising, direct coupon mailers, social media marketing, and advertising.
What are alternatives to consider instead of using direct mail?
Email marketing. You can buy an email list and use an email service to send emails with graphics, email newsletters and email alerts (short messages). You can even do it yourself if you’re so inclined. Email is less expensive than direct mail because you’re not paying for printing and mailing, but there are other forces to contend with — SPAM filters, for example. In addition, it’s still difficult to purchase a squeaky clean email list that meets all of today’s legal requirements. As a result, email is often used for contacting and communicating with existing customers, while direct mail is used for communicating with prospective customers.
Search advertising. These are the ads that appear on Google and other search engines on the right-hand side and top of the search results. Advertisers pay only when someone clicks on the ad to go to their website. Search advertising is much faster and easier to implement than direct mail, but you are limited to just a few lines of text, which makes it hard to convey much information. You may want to try search advertising first to learn what works there, and then you can apply that learning to your direct mail and other marketing programs.
Direct mail coupon mailers. This is a type of direct mail where a coupon company mails an envelope or book of coupons, and provider companies pay to have their offer included. It’s less expensive than mailing yourself but you must make an offer (coupon) which may attract prospects who are not the most profitable to serve long-term as customers. And your competitors may also be included in the mailing (but you can ask for, and pay more, for an exclusive).
Social media marketing. It’s now the 21st century and today’s minds have developed a number of hugely popular tools that are changing the face of marketing. Millions of people each day interact with sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. And wherever millions of people go, marketers are sure to follow. Successful marketing via these social channels is still being defined. At a minimum these outlets can be leveraged at little cost and be a great support for brand recognition and word-of-mouth advertising. Their value as demand generation vehicles that lead to bottom-line impact remains to be seen.
Advertising. There are lots of different types of advertising (newspaper, radio, magazine, outdoor billboards, movie theater, mobile ads on someone’s cell phone, TV). For advertising to work, you need important news (significant new product or service announcement, or an event), a great offer, or invest enough money so the ad is seen enough times by your intended target audience (the people you want to buy) so that it’s remembered and acted on.