As an email marketer I am duty bound to extol the virtues of
holiday greetings sent via email rather than direct mail. Email
greetings are less expensive, easier to create, quicker to
deliver and likely have a better chance of being opened than any
direct mail these days. But, a holiday greeting alone cannot
compare to the results you can achieve with, say, an email
newsletter. Our good friend Michael Katz of Blue Penguin
Development agrees. Here is what he has to say on the subject:
"Trash The Holiday Cards, Send an E-Newsletter"
by Michael Katz,
Blue Penguin Development, Inc.
With December almost upon us, businesses everywhere will soon
be scrambling to get their customer holiday cards out the door.
Although this tradition may at first glance seem to make sense,
the fact is that sending holiday cards out once a year to a list
of people with whom you have infrequent contact is expensive,
and largely ineffective.
While doing a presentation recently to a group of small
business owners, I asked the audience three questions:
- Why do you send holiday cards?
- How many do you send?
- How much does it cost you?
The universal answer to question number one was, "to keep in
touch with my customers." Questions two and three had more
variation, but on average, each member of this group was sending
out about 500 holiday cards at a cost of about $1 each.
Here's the problem:
Although it feels like an accomplishment to drop off 500
cards at the post office, the perception that this effort builds
relationships and helps us stay in touch with our customers is
an illusion. It's a good illusion, but it's an illusion all the
Remember that we are not really mailing 500 holiday cards.
Instead, we are sending out one card, 500 times. The recipients
don't know (or care) how many total cards we send, and because
each individual gets only one, there is no cumulative impact
related to the number of cards mailed.
From a relationship enhancing perspective, this tactic
doesn't have nearly enough frequency with any one customer to
move the needle in a positive direction. Add to this the fact
that our holiday card has no useful information, and is not
requested or anticipated by our customers, and it's likely that
our efforts - although well intentioned - will largely go
Contrast this with the benefits of a regularly scheduled,
email based newsletter:
- Because sending email is free, cost ceases to be a
constraint, and achieving a sufficient amount of frequency
is no longer a problem.
- By choosing topics that are valuable and of interest to
our customers, and by putting this information in the form
of an opt-in newsletter, we can be confident that the people
on our mailing list want what we are sending them (further
increasing the value of the communication).
- Because the medium is inherently two way, recipients
often respond, creating a dialogue with customers that
doesn't occur with holiday cards.
- Finally, as the size of our mailing list expands and
contracts over time (as people opt in and people opt out),
we've got a real time barometer for gauging the
effectiveness of our communication (if not the strength of
the relationship we have with our customers)!
One final note and I'll leave you alone. Isn't it interesting
how the Internet has transformed a fundamental business
tradeoff? The primary consideration in deciding how frequently
to initiate outbound customer communications used to be COST
(i.e. pieces mailed multiplied by cost per piece). In the
digital world, it's TIME and CONTENT. You can have an unlimited
number of communications, as long as you have the time to write
them and something to say.
Happy Holidays! (I won't be sending you a card).