Comparing Email Marketing to Print Marketing

Just in case you don’t read comments on this page, I wanted to point out a very important conversation going on about the future of email marketing – and comparing it to print direct mail.

At a recent post I made – I started a conversation about the end of free email.

Someone agreed and made an interesting observation:

“While I have no problem doing (print) mail outs, with the rising cost of postage and materials plus the clutter, the US mail has never looked worse. Email will still likely be cheaper… I just don’t like the idea of having another channel that is pressuring the ROI based on the whims of the gatekeepers. RSS looks like a nice alternative based on price AND control.”

A very interesting point that many people assume is correct- email marketing is cheaper. The problem is that, in many cases, it is a very dangerous (and wrong) assumption.

I definitely agree with the above point that email will always be cheaper than direct (print) mail. But, it depends on how you look at it – I see email as being much more expensive than direct mail in many cases.

How could email cost more than a physical stamp?

Results.

Both my own results and those of many other marketers who I know that test both email and print marketing.

For example:

Let’s say you have a list of 1,000 people to market to – and lets also assume you have both email contacts and offline info as well.

To email those 1,000 people will cost you nothing right now (well – the cost of the email service you use)

The average open rate is 20% (some lower some higher – for the purpose of this let’s say that is accurate)

Let’s say the item you sell is worth $100 and you sell 1% of those who open it.

200 people opened it and you made 2 sales (1%) for total sales (and profit) of $200

Now, send those same 1,000 the exact same sale letter in print for a total cost of approx $600 (stamps, paper, printing, stuffing)

Even if we stay at the 1% conversion (in print it is typically higher) you still make MORE money…

1,000 people x 1% conversion = 10 sales x $100 = $1,000

Your profit is $400 ($1,000 minus the mailing costs)

DOUBLE the profits from the same list.

And that doesn’t factor in that every new paying client is now twice as likely to buy again. So the email list got 2 new paying customers – the offline campaign got 10 – 5 times as many clients who are now twice as likely to buy again.

So, up front, email does look like it’s cheaper – but in the end it costs you more in lost sales – and in lost paying clients.

Simplified explanations but ask those who do both on and offline marketing to see if they have similar results… I’d be willing to bet they do.

Great topic though!

The reason this is very important to any, and every, business that does effective marketing – is that you have to look at results – not perceptions.
There is a big difference – up front, it looks like email is free and direct mail costs you a fortune. When you look at bottom line results (key word: results) – many times direct mail ends up making substantially more money. So the “savings” you make by sending email only actually is taking raw profits out of your pockets.

The facts:

1) Most people who do both on and offline marketing to the same list see substantially higher returns from their offline efforts

2) Direct mail investments are going up

3) Direct mail is working as good – many cases better – than ever. Why? Because most people fall for this belief that email is cheaper. It may cost next to nothing up front – but it is costing you pure cash every time you ignore the facts.

My thoughts on the best marketing? Both on and offline mixed. Offline is still preferred by people – they like to hold paper in hand. Proof? E-books vs. print – print is still the preferred choice. E-books have a place – but the best way to sell a book is both e-book and print book. So print mail gives you better conversions and sales – but email gives you the flexibility to build a stronger relationship with your client at a very low price.

Do both online AND offline marketing to see the biggest “bang for your buck”.

The results tell the true tale.