Is mail so yesterday?
Sometimes it seems like that’s what I’m hearing. And I often feel like a grandma, warning people not to move everything online. But grandma or not, I’ll keep doing it.
I know the arguments:
- Yes, email is cheaper to send.
- Yes, online donations can be easier for data entry.
- No printers, no post office, no folding and stuffing envelopes. What’s not to like?
Here’s the thing – it’s not about what’s easier for you to send. It’s about what’s easier for your donors to read. What do they say they prefer? And even more telling, what do they respond to? For most donors, that will still be mail.
Direct mail works hard.
Here’s a good run-down on why direct mail is still the boss. Most giving is still through the mail. And donors acquired through the mail give via other channels in the future. (Which is good for the odds of keeping them around.)
Direct mail has a better response rate.
Far better. IWCO Direct reported on the 2015 Direct Mail Association Response Rate Report. It shows direct mail beating all digital channels combined by 600%.
(They offer a few other interesting statistics as well. Worth the read!)
People may interact better with mail.
This piece from The Drum also reports on DMA findings – in this case, that people are more likely to deal with mail right away than with email. So if your email is hitting inboxes and then being ignored, is the lower expense worth it?
Touch is important to how we make decisions.
I read an article recently about research on the role of touch in our charitable decisions. If touching a rough piece of sandpaper triggers our empathy, making it more likely we’ll give – what about just touching a piece of paper?
Paper conveys emotion better.
Roger Dooley offers this study: Print vs. Digital: Another Emotional Win for Paper. Researchers found paper affects our brains differently than digital. In the study, paper created more emotional responses a week after viewing than digital ads did. And you know what emotion means to successful fundraising, right?
Not everyone is on board with the digital revolution.
Older people – even those who have an email account and check it – may still feel more comfortable with a piece of mail. It’s what they know and trust.
A well-done letter doesn’t feel like a sales brochure. It feels like a real letter – what you’d get from a friend. Recipients know you took more trouble to send that mail piece.
And donors who make their gift online may be moved to give because of a direct mail appeal.
Even if your donors are much younger, don’t write off direct mail just yet. The Eleventy Group notes the DMA report found a “big jump in response to mail pieces by 18-21 olds (rising from 4.1% in 2012 to 12.4% in 2013”.
The good news? You don’t have to choose sides.
Mail works even better when it’s part of an overall plan. Use it with email, social media, a good website and donation page – and even the phone if you can manage it.
Email is good for up to the minute news. It can be personalized easily. And you can track opens and clicks. Great information to have!
But direct mail can be held in your hand. It can be pinned to the fridge, or left on top of the stack of bills. It can feel so much more personal. And it’s still doing the heavy lifting!
Direct mail may feel like your trusty old sneakers, not a shiny new kicks.
But look closer and you may be surprised.
Digital-only might make your organization look like one of the cool kids. But more donations?
That looks really good on you.
More for you about direct mail: