Alternatives to email

Got a full email inbox? You are not alone — I’ve heard a lot of stories from clients recently about how difficult it is to cut through email clutter and communicate with their audience.

The empty postal mailbox

At the same time that email inboxes are filling up, your postal mailbox is emptying out. I used to get 3 or 4 catalogues a week, not to mention credit card offers and periodicals. Now it’s unusual to get 2 catalogues a month. My friend George Fiala, who owns Select Mail, a mailing house, mentioned that the post office is offering discounts this summer if they exceed a target number of pieces mailed. If the post office is holding a sale, you know postal mail volume is down.

New tactics for postal mail

Now may be a good time to experiment with “real” mail. In an environment where most communication is intangible, an actual letter can have a lot of impact.

Here are some channels to consider:

– A physical newsletter. If your audience is used to getting an email newsletter, it may be time to change it up once in awhile and reintroduce yourself. Try including a special offer and a response path so you can track results.

– Variable data printing (VDP). This printing method can personalize virtually any part of your mailing: for example, it can typeset a personalized message and place it inside of a photo; or target specific groups by swapping out different images and headlines. If you have a lot of data about your audience, VDP can double the response rate of regular mailings. This is a good time to talk to printers about VDP — many are slow and need to keep their presses running. If you need a referral to a VDP printer, email me here.

– Handwritten personal letters. Our colleague, Mistina Picciano of Market It Write, uses personal correspondence to follow up with potential clients. For nonprofits, this is a great way to nurture relationships with donors. It’s also a useful channel for healthcare organizations who ask their doctors to follow up with patients to build relationships. You don’t have time to write letters, or have illegible handwriting (like me)? Check out www.sendoutcards.com. This website service can create a font from your handwriting, print, and mail out notecards for you.

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FACT OF THE MONTH

Number of states in the U.S. that claim test scores in their elementary schools are above the national average: 50.