The Pros and Cons of Direct Mail Advertising in Political Campaigns

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Consider the Speed of Direct Mail When Running a Political Campaign

Among the traditional online marketing techniques that ensure success for political organizations especially during the campaign period is direct mail. The simple process entails creating a mailer or promotional material, selecting target recipients, and sending out the marketing materials. It increases candidates’ awareness within a certain geographic location. To begin with, direct mail takes a longer time to reach its intended recipients compared to online advertising techniques. But before launching this kind of campaign, try to consider first its advantages and disadvantages.

Pros of Direct Mail

Direct mail marketing is well targeted which is an advantage for political candidates. The politician’s handlers can send information directly to households especially those with many family members of voting age. Suppliers of mailing lists take advantage of the election season to offer all kinds of listings.

Providers of direct mail services assist their clients in targeting mailings based on areas and political districts. Through geographic targeting, it becomes easier to choose recipients using available campaign data and customize messages directly to the local population. On the other hand, demographic targeting entails pinpointing specific demographics mainly through research. Basic information under this category includes age, gender and location.

Political campaigners say direct mail is reliable. It helps in capturing attention of recipients and obliges them to take action right away. With regards to political mail, the call to action is for people to vote for their candidates. Its effectiveness in such campaigns, according to almost 70% of responders in a recent survey cannot be doubted being among the more credible sources.

The channel is trusted by voters more than other conduits. It is convincing with significant impact as in the case of a democratic candidate for the House District 78 of South Carolina in the recent elections where 55% of voters said the direct mail method helped them decide on how and whom to vote for.

Cons of Direct Mail

Notwithstanding its advantages, skeptics maintain this traditional technique is less effective compared to online advertising. Direct mailing has a longer lead time which is a crucial factor in election campaigning. It is quite difficult to foretell how long it takes for the advertisement to reach the recipients from the design stage up to production and mailing. There are instances when it takes one to two weeks to produce the advertising material depending on the material and difficulty of design. Another element to consider is the imprecision of mail delivery time.

Direct mailing does not come along with a captive audience. In other words, the campaign staff must come with a way of making their piece stand out or become more attractive from other mails intended for a specific address. Besides, online advertising provides metrics for tracking engagement other than follow ups by phone and BRM or Business Reply Mail cards. These are total number of website visits, time spent on website, bounce rate, exit rate, total conversions, interactions per visit, and many others.

This conventional platform can generate low response rates. Although responses vary based on the category of direct mail employed, the usual format usually averages a response rate of around 3.7%. Postcards or messages and oversized envelopes have the highest rates from 4% to 5% but these are still considered below the average. This requires a thorough understanding of your target audience and focus on highly targeted and personalized mailers to attain optimum results.  There may be legal concerns concerning privacy issues and data protection. See to it that the list contains persons who have agreed to receive marketing mailers from you.

Costs may Overshadow Benefits

Direct Mail advertising has four major components. These are the list of recipients, creatives, the offer and delivery. Costs also include obtaining a credible list from third-party sellers. To make your offer compelling and worth the customer’s time, you will need creative work and hire designers that will cut into the bottom line. Moreover, this does not include production and mailing expenses yet. Make sure that ROI will offset your outlay before eventually deciding on a direct mail campaign.

Direct Mail for Election Campaigns

Direct mail may not seem effective compared to other online advertising platforms. However, it still matters a lot for election-related activities. The available budget is one of the more essential considerations during the conduct of political campaigns.

Television and print ads are extremely expensive and can consume a great deal of candidates’ resources. On the contrary, political mail advertising is a more cost-effective way of reaching the electorate and keeping finances under control. It will not be difficult to put together a mailing list choosing constituents who actively participate in political exercises. This will guarantee that your mailers will reach a responsive audience. Just make sure that materials will be delivered promptly because time is of the essence in any electoral campaign.

Awareness of Candidates’ Names

You don’t expect all voter-recipients to read the mailers entirely; some will not even read them at all. Even then, political mail advertising remains useful in two specific areas. First, it produces awareness about the candidate’s name which falls under brand recognition. Second, it emphasizes the politician’s message to the electorate.

Social media sites have proven helpful, without astronomical costs, in sharing a candidate’s profile and message to voters amid the changing political landscape. Nonetheless, direct mail can still be viable given a well-composed message with the element of demographics and database for individualized follow-ups. In fact, well-planned campaigns utilize information obtained from mediums such as SMS, phone banking and social media to craft appropriate messages for target audiences. This makes mailing pieces more probable to be read by supporters as well as unconvinced voters.

Which one to Choose

After going through the upsides and downsides of direct mail marketing, politicians and their staff can now make up their minds on the type of marketing strategy to use now and in the future.

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