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Which Has Better ROI: Direct Mail or Social Media Blog Feature
Brian Greenfader

By: Brian Greenfader on February 1st, 2018

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Which Has Better ROI: Direct Mail or Social Media

Offline Marketing | Direct Mail

Marketing budgets are never limitless. Even the Apples, Geicos and Coca-Colas of the world have limits on how much they can spend (even if the money they’ll part with is comparatively astronomical). Most modern marketers are forced to make incredibly difficult budget decisions. How can they spread their money around to maximize their ROI?

Typically, marketers’ lines of thinking go one of two ways:

  1. “I know what’s worked for us for years, and traditional advertising plays a big role in our success”
  2. “I should be focusing on the latest and greatest tactics and implement them as soon as possible”

What happens when you compare tried-and-true, traditional marketing to the shiny, new tactics of 2018? The two models of each “era” are direct mail and social media, respectively. And while both unquestionably have their place in modern marketing and advertising, which tactic will more likely help you maximize the return on your marketing investment?

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The Social Media Investment

The focus of many modern marketers, social and digital marketing are top of mind for the simple reason that consumers spend a great deal of time in the digital world – especially on social media platforms.

Facebook has become one of the best social investments – pinnacle of targeting, allowing you to focus on prospects based on:

  • Basic demographics
  • Income levels
  • Interests
  • Buying behaviors purchase patterns

With so many people to whom you can expose your message, there are great opportunities in social media. But do these factors make it the best environment for your marketing dollars?

The growth of social media teams within marketing departments has grown to new heights in the passed few years. In 2015, 49% of marketing organizations comprised of social marketers, which grew to 63.2% in 2016 and 64.7% in 2017.

Despite the growing investment in social media team members, marketers have continued to struggle with placing an exact ROI on the efforts they make in this domain. In fact, 61% of social marketers report having trouble determining the ROI of their tactics. How could measurement be so difficult in an arena built for metrics and analysis?

One of the greatest problems is that many marketers are unsure what their campaign goals are with social. Do they want to drive people to a landing page?  Do they want to raise awareness with new audiences? Do they want to promote social sharing?

The definition of campaign success becomes subjective if a marketing team doesn’t define its objectives from the outset and the lack of strategy often creates misalignment between within the team. It also makes it incredibly difficult to determine a true measure of return.

Of course, even if you’ve collectively identified your KPIs, you need the right tools to track them. Many social networks have their own analytics dashboards, which help some marketers but others struggle to uncover the ROI-relative insights they’re looking for. This requires additional programs or tools to unearth the insights they’re truly after.

Supplementally, it can prove difficult to gain a holistic, end-to-end view of how prospects are navigating your assets. According to Simply Measured, “the ability to see what happens [passed tracking codes] becomes very difficult through channels like private messaging (things like Facebook messenger, text messages, emails, Slack, and WhatsApp).”

The Direct Mail Investment

Direct mail has long been a staple of the marketing and advertising worlds. But as new, digital options arose, many marketers left direct response in their rearview mirrors. While social media and digital marketing can never be ignored, the fact that direct mail has been so underused has left an environment ripe with opportunity.

According to CMO Council, targeted direct mail has earned a 4.4% response rate, while email has produced a response rate of just 0.12%. Direct mail has also overwhelmingly outperformed its digital counterpart in several other key measures:

  • 79% of consumers have immediately taken action on direct mail
  • 40% tried a new business after receiving direct mail
  • 70% renewed previous relationships with businesses after receiving direct mail

One of the most important caveats to this comparative discussion is that many marketers (experienced or not) are adopting social media because they think they should. The result is a great deal of digital clutter. It’s why we (and so many of us) often scroll mindlessly through our Facebook newsfeeds, never truly processing what we’re looking at.

In contrast, direct mail has a far longer shelf life. With a physical piece, consumers are more likely to take notice of, and interact with, the asset they hold in their bare hands. Direct mail doesn’t vying for your attention in the same way digital content must work to do.

While direct mail often comes with a higher price tag, your spend is much more straightforward than on social media, where you’re paying variable costs based on impressions, clicks or other metrics. You have more control of who your content is sent to and how many pieces of content they see. You don’t have surprise costs or unmet expectations.

Further Your Research

It’s always important to research all marketing avenues at your disposal. And it’s equally critical to leverage multiple channels to get your message out. No matter the medium, you should always analyze your campaign results to understand what is and isn’t working.

There’s never a clear-cut answer to the prominent question of traditional versus digital. The truth lies in what’s best suited for your business and prospects but as when it comes to cutting through clutter to deliver a resonant message and making a lasting impact, direct mail is the way to go. And because of the impact is has on prospects, direct mail is option that’s most likely to maximize your ROI.

Where does video fit into this puzzle? Click below to learn how to create and leverage personalized video

Personalized Video