In full, upfront disclosure, I run an internet-based software company called ReviewJump. But having worked for 16 years now with all types of marketing, I’ve witnessed an ongoing virtual conflict between two seemingly opposite worlds … online and offline marketing.
To see the frontline battles of this war, all you have to do is turn to Google.
When I searched for “direct mail vs email,” I saw the following attacks taking place in the top three results:
- An Investigation Into the ROI of Direct Mail vs. Email Marketing– HubSpot provides online marketing software and is the biggest champion of inbound (online-based) marketing. The article even references a Harvard Business Review article called “Why Email Marketing is King.” So, take a wild guess which side HubSpot aligns themselves with in this online versus offline marketing war.
- 20 Advantages Direct Mail has Over Email Marketing– A biased article published by Dirmark Media, a company who primarily sells direct mail lists. To quote the article’s closing paragraph: “For ‘prospecting’ … direct mail is more effective than email!”
- 4 Reasons to Use Direct Mail Marketing Instead of Email Marketing– This is an Entrepreneur.com article written by Craig Simpson, an expert and avid proponent of direct mail. Of course, he’s going to look down upon email marketing in favor of direct mail if that’s what he sells.
On one hand, we have the old-school direct marketers and ad agencies telling us how direct mail is not dead. We’re told advertising is profitable as long as there’s ample frequency. The less our competitors believe direct mail is ineffective, the easier it is obtain visibility, they say.
On the other hand, we have new-age internet marketers and SEOs (search engine optimizers) telling us how Google has neutralized the effect of phone book advertising. We’re told online ads and emails are better because people sort their mail over the trash can. Online marketing methods aren’t antiquated, they say.
Online vs. Offline Marketing
Can’t We All Just Get Along?
In a word, yes!
We just have to be smart and can’t ignore the facts simply because we have a bias for one type of marketing or another.
It’s true. Phone books have become virtually obsolete, thanks to online directories and search engines. Scientific studies show how we’ve subconsciously trained ourselves to overlook banner ads on websites. (It’s called banner blindness.) And yes, we do sort our direct mail over the trash while our email inbox filters out 99 percent of junk mail.
Both sides can be right because it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation!
I, for one, believe I can achieve a compounding return when I integrate both online and offline marketing. ReviewJump is 100 percent Web-based, but still utilizes offline strategies, such as trade shows and direct mail.
I’m not alone in this thinking, either.
When you read this company’s name, the first thing that came to your mind was likely something to do with the Internet, search engines, or online information and advertising. After all, 90 percent of Google’s revenue comes from such advertising.
However, as a business owner, I can’t keep count of how many postcards and direct mail pieces I’ve received from Google over the years. Coincidentally, the goal of their direct mail piece is to get me to buy their online advertising service called Adwords.
A $70 billion online advertising giant sending direct mail solicitations … imagine that!
Since you’re reading this, you’re likely familiar with the primary service The Newsletter Pro offers … printed newsletters delivered through the mail.
But are you aware that The Newsletter Pro effectively utilizes online marketing strategies, such as opt-in forms, email autoresponders, search engine optimization, and even email newsletters?
In fact, founder Shaun Buck sends a weekly update called Weekend Reading that is an excellent read.
A direct mail company using the Web to reach customers every week … imagine that!
Online and Offline — A Happy Couple
I’m no hypocrite either! At ReviewJump, we provide an economical way to manage and grow the number of online reviews for local businesses, chains, and franchises (i.e. dentists, contractors, restaurants, hotels, retailers, etc.).
When you think of online reviews, though, you probably think of sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp. True, our software monitors local portals like these, and helps companies get more reviews on them, among other things.
Direct mail can also be a useful tool for growing a company’s online reputation. Here’s how:
- It’s nice to receive a thank-you email. It’s even nicer to receive a thank-you note in the mail. Depending on your customer’s lifetime value, consider mailing a handwritten note, thanking them for their business. Naturally, doing so will endear your company to them, and make it more difficult for them to leave you a negative review or talk bad about your company on their social media profiles.
- You’re not going to trash a company you personally care about, right? This is another reason why I love printed newsletters. Done correctly, newsletters give you an opportunity to build a relationship with your audience on a monthly basis. Just be sure to reveal your personality in these newsletters to solidify that personal connection.
- Sure, the ReviewJump software can automate your review-getting strategy, but you can initiate offline requests for reviews, as well. Follow up with your customer’s purchase by sending a postcard or letter, asking for feedback. Then, direct them online to your ReviewJump landing page and the software will do the rest … filtering out negative reviews before they go live, and forwarding reviews to the local directories you want more reviews on.
War! What is it good for?
In the case of online vs. offline marketing, absolutely nothing! Integrating the two can truly give your marketing exponential results; ultimately giving you a higher return on investment.
Really, it’s like 1+1=3.
Thanks for reading,
— Brodie Tyler
About Brodie Tyler
Brodie Tyler is an experienced speaker, published author, innovative entrepreneur, and founder of ReviewJump, a reputation management Web application. Since 2000, Brodie has helped companies using proven, diverse lead generation and digital marketing strategies.