Mail? Who gets mail anymore beside bills and bank statements? The answer as you might guess is: Not many people. Direct mail is viewed as an antiquated system of communication. Email invitations and online registrations are the new RSVP number. But is that perspective accurate, or are you missing out on a whole not-so-new world of engaging with your guests?
Put simply, direct mail is any form of advertising that is sent via mail. It could include brochures, postcards, or even personal letters. Although people often think of it as junk mail, it’s a great way to build relationships with existing customers—or in your case, existing donors or guests.
It’s a misconception that mail doesn’t work. On the contrary, it works better than almost every other form of communication—including email. Plus, it has some other unique benefits that make it a must for your next social fundraiser or business conference.
Direct Mail Is a Physical Reminder
Let’s face it, we don’t remember everything on our own. Our lives are busy, and our calendars are full—that’s why we build reminders into our routine. We put sticky notes on the front door so we don’t forget our lunch in the fridge. Or we write affirming words on our bathroom mirrors to pep us up for the big meeting. Often, we schedule calendar reminders on our phones to complete simple tasks.
Receiving a paper invitation in the mail is its own reminder. It’s the note on the door, if you will. Your guest can stick it on the fridge so they don’t forget to RSVP. They could pass it off to someone else who might be interested in attending, or they can bring it with them on the day-of for directions. It’s a versatile way to invite—and remind—guests about upcoming events.
Direct Mail Shows That You Care
This might sound a little silly, but we’re absolutely serious. When was the last time you received a personal letter in the mail? Maybe it was from a friend or parent. You probably thought, “So-and-so took the time to write me a letter. How nice!” Even if you don’t read it right away, it left a positive impression on your mind.
Direct mail can do the same thing for your audience. In fact, a study conducted by the UK Royal Mail discovered that 57% of people said receiving mail makes them feel appreciated. Yes, even if that mail came from a business. Dropping a letter in the mail is a great way to connect with your guest list—it reinforces how much you value their contribution and their presence at your next big event.
Direct Mail Stands Out
Every day, we are constantly bombarded with news and advertisements begging for our attention. And most of that stimuli comes in digital format; the average person receives 107 emails a day, and views 63 ads. That’s a lot of information being sent our way! There’s no way we absorb 107 emails worth of content every day.
But when you look at the direct mail numbers, you see a totally different story. On average, an individual receives two pieces of direct mail a day. That’s it! The list of department store sales in your inbox gets deleted. But you’ll likely read the short stack of letters after a long day at work. In a digital world, direct mail stands out. While we’re not advocating you skip the digital eVite, mailing a physical invitation is a more effective way to grab the attention of your guest.
Direct Mail Displays Properly For Everyone
From a design perspective, digital communication can be tricky—especially with emails. With so many browser types and email filters, getting an email through that looks good can be tricky. And again, you’re competing with everyone else for the attention. Direct mail doesn’t have that issue. When you send an invitation, you control exactly what it looks like—and that’s what the guest will see, too. There’s no compatibility to worry about!
This might seem like an insignificant detail—because there are some really cool emails out there. But it’s important to get your message across in a way that’s consistent with your overall marketing strategy. Printed pieces can achieve that clear consistency—paramount for high-profile events and conferences.
Direct Mail Works
If we haven’t already convinced you to give physical invitations a try for your next major event, we have a few more statistics that might change your mind. When you compare all forms of communication–mail, phone calls, emails, other digital methods—direct mail boasts a 3.7% response rate. That’s the second-highest response rate of all methods (phone comes in first). And it’s much higher than email response rate, which usually lands just under 1%.
This isn’t to say you should never email guests—a 1% response rate can still generate a lot of money and attendance. But it doesn’t have to be your sole avenue. Expand to paper invites, personal letters, or engaging post cards to get those RSVPs to come in.
The best solution to reaching your guest list is likely a combination of print and digital. After all, repetition is the key to learning. But don’t be so quick to jump to emails and paid advertising—they just don’t work as well. To truly engage your guests, and any audience, you need to include an element of direct mail. It can be as simple as personal invites to VIPs, instead of the entire list. Maybe with a hand-written note inside. Get creative, and get those RSVPs!