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Twenty percent of promotional emails were undelivered, according to a 2009 Global Email Deliverability Benchmark Report by Return Path.

So, with a large amount of promotional emails being sent as "junk" or "bulk" email, how does email compare to direct mail?

  • Lack of control: email senders have incomplete control over how the message appears to the recipient, both when it is received in preview and after it is opened. A printed piece does not change from sending to receiving.
  • Faulty delivery: Email depends on a variety of Internet service providers (ISPs) to deliver the message, each with its own blocks and filters. The USPS delivers all the mail unless the address is faulty. To minimize faulty mail delivery, there are numerous tools such as National Change of Address (NCOA) processing and delivery point validation (DPV) to identify undeliverable addresses during mail list processing.
  • ISP blacklist: An email sender risks having its Internet Protocol (IP) address blacklisted by ISPs, a tool to cut down on spam. The decision on whether a message should be blacklisted rests with the ISP, not with the message recipient. With traditional direct mail, the recipient decides whether to put himself or herself on the “Do Not Mail” list.

Customers hoping to save money may ask for email marketing as opposed to direct mail. When they do, you will want to let them know that cost alone is not a sufficient measure to compare direct mail to email because email introduces reliability and control issues that do not apply to direct mail.

And finally, when measuring campaign effectiveness, you might want to encourage your customers to compare the cost-per-response of direct mail and email as opposed to the cost of distribution. 

 


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