Data Smackdown: Direct Mail vs. the Net
It was the fight of the century! In one corner we had direct mail — steady, consistent, predictable veteran of the ring. But in the other corner was our challenger — the Internet. The ’net is quick, young and full of potential. Was this DM’s final fight?
Clint O’Brien, vice president of business development at Care2, served as referee between the two fierce combatants as they duked it out for six rounds. Trish “Strongmire” Longmire, director of donor development for Habitat for Humanity, spoke on behalf of direct mail, while Lisa “East of the Rock” Sock, online outreach and fundraising manager for the ACLU, represented the online world.
Longmire scored points for outlining several advantages of direct mail, including:
1. It’s tangible. For example, it is impossible for e-mail to generate the same donor experience created by a cuddly premium like a teddy bear.
2. It’s proven and has a track record of successfully raising money.
3. Mail gives you the chance to develop a full story for the donor; online communications must be brief.
4. Even today, not everyone is online. Direct mail has the ability to reach more people.
Longmire continued her assault by pointing out some deficiencies in online fundraising:
1. Spam — Longmire dared to invoke the dreaded “S” word, emphasizing her argument further by presenting Sock with an actual can of SPAM!
2. Direct-mail donors tend to be more loyal, and it’s difficult to renew online-only donors.
But Sock retaliated with a strong attack pointing out key advantages of online fundraising:
1. Speed — Especially in the case of an emergency or hot issue, nothing beats online fundraising in its effectiveness.
2. Message flexibility and testing — It’s simple to test a message via e-mail on a small sample and tweak it before roll-out.
3. Lead ownership — Once someone has signed-up for your list online, you own the lead and can solicit that person multiple times.
4. Average gifts tend to be higher online.
5. Customization is more cost-effective online.