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The importance of a letter

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The way we communicate with each other has undergone a sea change in the past couple of decades. Whether it’s work or personal, emails are far and above most peoples preferred medium of communication. So much so, that it’s hard to believe that email didn’t really exist before the 1990s.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think that emails are great. I love the way you can communicate one message efficiently to multiple recipients. I find it extremely helpful that I can review and correct what I communicate before actually committing to send it. I love the fact that my message will instantly ping into someone’s inbox without delay (when they get around to reading it and replying to it is another matter!). But are we losing something by replacing more traditional methods of communication with this ‘fast food’ version? Or are we underestimating the importance of a simple, traditional letter?

For example, I get much more sense of excitement from a hard copy invitation sent via the post than an emailed version. It somehow feels more personal and like more effort has been taken by the sender. And, as a result, I feel more inclined to RSVP by the stated deadline. But more importantly, so many of the 100’s of emails I get each day simply fall through the gaps. If it’s not addressed to me personally or related to my work it just gets deleted. On the other hand, I open and read over 90% of the mail that comes through my letterbox that’s personally addressed to me each day.

Despite this, many firms run significant marketing campaigns exclusively via email, and don’t see the value in a direct mailing. And by direct mailing, I don’t mean a flyer through the mailbox, I mean a personally addressed envelope, containing information that’s relevant for and interesting to the selected recipient in a beautifully designed format. They see email marketing as a cheap and fast way to reach their audiences. But how effective is it really? A recent experiment by the Royal Mail suggests it’s less effective than a direct mail campaign, drawing click through rates of 13.1% versus 25.43% for a direct mail (source: http://www.royalmail.com/marketing-services-regular/marketreach/case-studies/emap-personalised-purls).

I recently conducted my own experiment, sending a small information pack similar to that pictured above to a handful of potential new clients. Each pack contained a short, handwritten and personalised note to the recipient. The result? 30% of those I mailed ‘linked in’ with me and 20% of those I mailed have requested a meeting to discuss how we can work together. I can’t help thinking this far exceeds any results I’d get from an email campaign.

Yes, direct mailing campaigns will take more time and will cost more money, but given all your peers are currently on the email bandwagon, could this be the time to buck the trend and stand out from the crowd?

If you would like to know more about direct mailings, please let me know and I’ll pop some information in the post on how we can help!

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