For years, nonprofits have successfully used direct mail to appeal to prospective donors and engage with their constituents, and lest you believe rumors to the contrary, this remains true today, even in this age of digital communication.
While you may think that direct mail is more attractive to older donors, studies show that young adults (24 and under) are some of the most responsive people to direct mail. Why? Because 70% of Americans believe that physical mail is more personal than the internet, especially those who grew up with all things digital. Donors want to feel like you care, and that your communication is just for them. You can accomplish that easily with direct mail.
Direct mail is alive and well and is still a vital marketing tool. If you’ve wondered whether to pull your direct mail efforts from your marketing strategy, here are five reasons not to (and how it can serve to bridge your offline and online worlds).
Direct mail is targeted. Direct mail allows you to reach a specific segment so that your communication is targeted at the people most likely to listen. When you add in variable printing, each piece can be individually customized. To take it a step further, you can also create landing pages that correspond with your direct mail and specifically target each segment so that your messaging speaks to the right people at the right time. Direct mail is an effective way to drive traffic to your website—not just your homepage, but to a landing page with a strong, focused call to action.
Direct mail is interactive. Good direct mail pieces invite the reader to respond, whether it’s by making a donation, scanning a QR code, connecting on social media or volunteering for your organization. As people respond, you can build a database of constituents and volunteers, along with their interests, habits and history of involvement, then create a follow-up plan based on those things.
Direct mail can’t be ignored. There is one way for people to sort mail—by looking at it. There’s no “delete” button inside a mailbox. Creating a unique piece that appears more interesting (oversized, bulky, colorful, etc.) will increase the chances that it’ll get noticed. Just be sure to always include your website on every piece so that people know where to go for more information or take action. Also, invite them to connect with you on your social networks.
Nowadays, people actually like mail. At work and at home, people look forward to sorting their mail, which is especially true now that so much of our communication is digital. Email inboxes have become the new overstuffed mailbox. Plus, there’s something to be said for having a tangible piece to hold. For your next event, try sending out printed invitations along with an email invite—bonus points if you can recruit volunteers or board members to add a handwritten note. Your constituents will love receiving something so personalized in their mailboxes.
Direct mail can reach those who don’t spend much time online. It may seem hard to believe, but not everyone is engaged on social media 24/7 or checks their email every 30 minutes. There are still some who prefer to engage with others in person or over the phone and refuse to get wrapped up in the digital world. These people may still be inclined to visit your website, but they may miss your digital messages—they are a prime audience for direct mail. Reach them via their mailboxes, then invite them to learn more about your organization by visiting your website or signing up for your newsletter.
If you’ve pulled back on your direct mail efforts, you might want to rethink your marketing strategy and consider how you can use printed pieces to reach people in a targeted, unique way and then drive them to engage with you online. A combination of digital and non-digital marketing channels will be your most effective strategy for engagement and, ultimately, more revenue.