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Digital Dilemma

Everywhere you look digital communications proliferate. You likely receive several hundred email messages a week, if not each day. Then there’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google, Yahoo, Yelp, Amazon, iTunes, eBay, and a plethora of other sites and software all clamoring for your online attention… and, yes, even this blog. Its difficult to believe that the entire world isn’t completely digital.
Yet, among all this still exists the relatively humble, hard working soldier of a day gone by – Direct Mail. Indeed, I said mail, as in snail mail, the USPS, post offices, stamps, letter carriers, and the whole supporting cast. So?
Well, here’s the “so.” While email delivers roughly a 0.12% response rate, direct mail boasts an average of 4.4% across all industries and measured media. Keep in mind, these are national averages, and they represent a combination of both house lists and prospect names – a direct comparison though, with all things being as equal as can be. Significant difference? You bet.
Wait, that’s not all there is to the story. If you translate response into ratios, direct mail offers a response of up to 10 to 30 times greater than email.
So, how come more of our Associates aren’t doing direct mail more frequently? That’s the conundrum we face here each and every day. Sure, it would be fun to play with all the cool new toys that digital media has to tempt us with. And, it certainly would be nice to be perceived as cutting edge practitioners of the marketing arts. But, if it were my money on the line, my vote would be to use the horse that works the hardest. In this case, it has got to be direct mail, hands down.
Then you need to consider the digital equivalent of a print ad, referred to as “display,” direct mail crushes it, comparatively speaking. Using transactional data from more than 29 billion emails and over 2 billion display impressions, consumer behavior was measured for both immediate action along with actions over a several week period. Only 6% converted (meaning clicked the ad, or later went to the intended site) and then, less than 1% of those who clicked actually completed a transaction. Those transactions could be making a purchase, requesting information, or setting an appointment online. This is a small number, a really small number. It becomes a math problem at this point… “if we need X amount of response to create Y amount of opportunities, how many transactions need to be consummated, and how many tens of thousands of impressions will provide those transactions?” Seemingly impossible to get there from here, sending out a few emails, placing a banner ad, or buying a few hundred PPC impressions.
Why? It comes down to a few key reasons. The top reason is because your target audience just isn’t there yet. The highest concentration of hearing instrument candidates, while online to some extent, are not doing their life business via the digital highway. It won’t always be this way, but today’s reality is more traditional, less digital than what we see from other industries and consumers. It’s tempting to use your own experiences and engagement as a yardstick to measure the degree of digital interaction required, but don’t. It isn’t accurate. It isn’t practical. And, it isn’t profitable – yet.

Have a Plan

We suggest two action items in the face of this information. First, develop a robust marketing campaign that uses direct mail and traditional media as much as possible. Determine your required results and work backward generating as much print and mail as you need to deliver the opportunities your business craves. Second, establish a solid foundation in the digital world now (see, we aren’t burying our head in the sand ignoring the winds of change.) Create a solid website. Build an effective information portal and establish a digital base-camp. Feed it regularly with good content, customer testimonials, product information, and advice for consumers. Collect email addresses from patients and their families – but, be certain to ask their permission to send them future messages. Work small, test new ideas across manageable numbers. For example, try an upgrade offer to your database. See how it does, try something a little different, keep adjusting. Just don’t expect these efforts to replace your tried and true programs and media that you know work, you still need to create those opportunities.
Still want to know more, call us, we’re here to help.