Though they come from the same discipline, direct mail and digital marketing are distant cousins rather than siblings in terms of terminology. They share a vocabulary, though depending on which camp you’re from you could be speaking the language with an accent. Each was founded on similar principles and they’ve since developed to suit the types of results each achieves. An open rate is one medium and means something completely different in the other, and response rates paint a different picture.
Confused? We’ve lifted the mystery with our direct mail dictionary for digital natives; your comprehensive guide to the semantics of the world’s most powerful marketing tool.
Generally digital measurement is focused on the immediate, which lends itself to the nature of its lexicon. Here is a round-up of the most common terms you’ll encounter and in the next section a rundown of how they translate to direct mail.
- Conversion rate: The number of desired actions resulting from email activity. For example, sales transactions, downloads or mailing list sign-ups.
- Bounce rate: It is as it sounds and in either outcome the recipient never sees the email. A hard bounce rate is caused by incorrect email addresses or domain issues; a soft bounce rate is when there’s an issue with delivery such as a full inbox or server issues.
- Deliverability: The measure of an email campaign’s cut-through. You should measure the returned email deliverability (volume of emails sent less the number of bounces) and inbox deliverability (volume of emails delivered to the inbox as opposed to the spam folder or not delivered).
- Average unique open rate: How many emails were opened divided by the number of emails delivered.
- Opt-out: The dreaded enemy; when a recipient opts out of further communications.
- Response rate: The number of actual responses made as a result of the email campaign.
So in terms of semantics, there are subtle differences between the two mediums and these largely depend on the way they’re consumed.
- Conversion rate: In direct mail a conversion rate is the same as a response rate. Sales or information request, both forms of contact mean an interaction with your valuable customer.
- Bounce rate: In direct mail a bounce rate means undelivered mail due to a change of address or a deceased individual. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
- Deliverability: Deliverability means that your DM is undeliverable all together. The only way to improve this is by improving the quality of your database.
- Average unique open rate: According to Royal Mail the average unique open rate is about 90%. When you know your most of mail is guaranteed to be viewed, digital open rates tend to pale in comparison.
- Opt-out: There’s no need to consider opt-out rates as all clients have opted in in the first place; it’s a legal requirement of all direct mail. Recipients who don’t want to read your mail simply bin it and your database retains its integrity.
- Response rate: The major difference between digital and print, response rates reflect the number of sales or responses to an offer, which in virtually all instances is a sale i.e. conversion rates in digital is a response rate in direct mail.
Knowing how to talk the language not only gives you the vocabulary, but helps you establish your authority on the subject. With the right set of tools you can competently recommend direct mail and watch your direct mail response rates explode.
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