Applying Direct Mail Tips to Email Marketing


Email is a very solid marketing tool that can give you a lot of bang for your buck from a cost, ease of use, measurement and relationship building perspective. Recently Advertising Age wrote an excellent article why email is kick-ass: “How E-mail Became a Direct-Marketing Rock Star in Recession

In this post I will examine how traditional direct mail advertising can teach us lessons in email marketing.

Historically, DM was one of the few advertising tools in which you could directly measure success of a campaign and test different messaging/design to your audience. This was original “campaign optimization” –where based on response you could pick and choose the elements that were working to create the optimal advertisement for your prospects.

“Direct mail allows you to control your campaign and direct spending against those targets that are most likely to purchase your product or service. The first step is to run small test mailings to get a feel for your baseline response rates. Subsequent mailings can try different things such as a different mail piece design, modified copy or new mailing lists.” –

Success rates are considered to be 1-2% for direct mail and email.

There are a lot of correlations and success metrics that can be applied to email marketing from direct mail:

Here are some tips from Tom Egelhoff in “Direct Mail: Formula for Success” and my comments on how that applies to email

  • “You need a good list to mail to.”
    – that is very valid for e-mail marketing as well
  • “There must be an offer that your customers will want to respond to.”
    – a key to a successful email marketing campaign
  • “You must take advantage of the postal rates the USPS (United States Postal Service) offers.” .
    – from an email marketing perspective that corresponds to using a cost-effective and reliable e-mail marketing platform

In regards to calculating revenue Tom suggests:
This can be used for e-mail marketing your cost being that of designing and writing the piece and paying for the e-mail marketing platform tool, list acquisition, etc.

“Here is First, the amount of revenue you want your mailing to achieve.
Second, your closing ratio. 100 customers see the product, 50 buy it, your closing ratio is 50%. Here is your formula for computing number of direct mail pieces needed to produce a specific revenue amount.
To Achieve A Revenue Goal of $10,000 if the average sale is $50.00
Average sale = $50.00
x close ratio = 50%
x response rate = 1%
divided into Revenue Goal ($10,000)
= Number of Direct Mail Pieces Needed
Would be:
$50.00 x 50% x 1% = 0.25
divided into 10,000 = 40,000 pieces”

I have worked with the below email platforms in the past and found them to be very useful from a targeting, list management, measurement and programming perspective however, there are tons of excellent platforms available based on your needs:

  • Responsys
  • Constant Contact
  • Market First

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