In the recent week or so there have been a few blog posts that address the question, “Which leads are better, direct mail leads or leads generated from the Internet?”

The first article from BiggerPockets.com – Why You Should Do Almost ZERO Internet Marketing (by Jason Hanson on June 5, 2010) was followed by a second one entitled, Why You Should Do MORE Internet Marketing (by J. Lamar Ferren on June 12, 2010).

At first glance, judging from the titles alone, it would seem that the articles seem contradictory and would put forth opposing viewpoints. Well, they do, but an adept marketer can have his or her cake and eat it, too because each method – Internet marketing and direct mail marketing – can have a role to play in one’s overall business marketing strategy.

Marketing Studies Support The Use of More Email Marketing

Over the past few months we have posted information on recent marketing studies, carried out by very exclusive marketing firms, with some that are sold at very exclusive pricing. Most of these studies paint a clear picture – that most small businesses have been using and plan to continue to use increasing amounts of email marketing and less direct mail marketing.

On the surface this can appear to paint a bleak picture for direct mail providers (printers, list brokers and direct mail service providers) and then out of the blue comes this article by someone who is experienced and knows what he’s talking about (Jason Hanson).

Direct Mail Leads Can Be Better Than Leads From The Internet

Essentially what Jason Hanson was saying was that if he could get 1,000 leads from the Internet or 1,000 leads from a letter he sent out that he would take the letter leads any day of the week. He says that because, “prospects that respond to your letter or postcard are much more likely to be motivated and want to do business with you than someone who contacts via the Internet.”

We agree with him 1000 percent and he is absolutely correct on his point. But the shrewd marketer is not going to curtail or stop his or her Internet marketing efforts over this one point. Leads generated from a website or email campaigns that are backed up by a solid marketing plan will only ADD to your bottom line if they are done smartly. This is what we mean by, “You can have your cake and eat it, too.”

All Leads and All Offers Are Not Created Equal

Hanson says that Internet leads are much crappier than those coming through the mail. Maybe when taken as a whole, but not all leads are created equal, and not all offers are equal so this is a bit of a generality. Both Internet leads and direct mail can have a place in a successful marketing plan if you think it through.

Think about it. If you are in the business of selling real estate, or perhaps managing an auction of some big ticket items, this would warrant some special attention. Manually prepared letters with a four-color brochure done with professional photography sent out as an initial mailing to a select list of prospects can be very effective. But get the point, here. You are giving personal attention to a select group and you are offering a select product. If these people take the time to respond to this kind of offer, then they probably mean business, literally.

This is a lot different than, say, putting up a web page with the same information. That is not as personal. It may generate some leads, and some may be good leads, but in this case I would do the direct mailing.

Internet Marketing Has its Place

Email leads and Internet marketing has its place, though. For example, let’s say you have a widget and you produced an infomercial. You buy some national, regional and local air time and the infomercial is aired. The infomercial displays your web address and the website has a video and gets into some detail that isn’t in the infomercial. You provide a call to action and a “buy now” page and you have a contact form or “request info” page. These are good leads, too. Some customers just have questions. You might even have an online chat application to answer questions close some deals. Maybe the product sells for $39.99. That’s a whole lot cheaper than a 4-bedroom house. Get the picture?

So not all leads and not all offers are the same. Direct mail and a clever use of mailing lists has a role to play in a sound marketing plan. It is smart to use the Internet to generate leads and it is also smart to use direct mail marketing to generate leads. Direct mail is best when a personal touch is required.

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