Direct Mail, Door to door Distribution, Marketing

Is social media marketing better than printed marketing?

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The return on investment from social media marketing versus door drops and direct mail is quite unbelievable; read on to see why.

A few years ago, I wrote a blog titled, 'Is the Royal Mail better than Mr Flyer' using our Mr Flyer mascot's image in a boxing ring versus Postman Pat. This blog has for years ranked our second most viewed page, second only to our home page. Equally, when you search on Google for 'Royal Mail leaflet distribution', it ranks second behind the actual Royal Mail door to door page. Clearly then, it spiked interest!

I initially wrote the page because it was such a commonly asked question by prospects, which myself and our sales team grew increasingly wearisome answering! I was also genuinely intrigued to delve into the Royal Mail's service and see what we could glean from it to improve. And it led to us partnering with them!

One of those other questions we frequently get asked is, 'is social media marketing better than printed marketing/leaflet distribution/direct mail (etc.)? This is, of course, subjective, often industry-dependent, subject to many variables, and so on. Equally, our staple answer is not to consider them as either/or, but complementary. A double touchpoint approach will cement your brand more in the receivers eye by simultaneously targeting your leaflets and social media posts to the same specific locations.

As a DMA member (Data & Marketing Association), I have compiled this blog using much of their data to answer this question. The Royal Mail's MarketReach and JICMAIL also have a wealth of extensive studies on print-based marketing's effectiveness, which this blog utilises. When it comes to social media marketing, the most authoritative source I am familiar with (and a member of) is the CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing). I also used extra resources from the DMI (Digital Marketing Institute) and Hubspot.

Round 1: Prices

Both leaflet distribution and direct mail can be pretty much free. You can design your flyer and print it on your home computer and start wandering around, posting them through peoples doors. This might sound very tiring and poor use of time, but it's effectively the argument we hear about social media. People call us and say, "well, social media is free". Is it? Really? You can do it yourself; your only cost is a smartphone and data - you can then create your pages and post on them daily. So, yes, it has the option to be free, but no more so than DIY leaflet drops. But this approach would lead us to a subsequent round which is 'effectiveness' - or lack of effectiveness if doing either method yourself with zero investment or industry expertise and resources.

On the presumption, you are serious about building your business and building your brand; let's look at a professional company providing both options for you. For this, I will focus on our core service, which is door to door distribution. I then googled 'social media marketing company' for social media and chose the highest organic site. If you are in Yorkshire (like us), prices may be lower. A few reputable local companies I know of are linked here, here and here (as I said before, they are complementary, not in competition, so I'm happy to share these links!).

Social media: The third of four packages on the website was the first to state it will increase your revenue (the first two just help you be 'social' and grow followers). As increasing revenue is surely the point of all marketing, I'm quoting this option. A one-off/pay as you go price is £1550 (+ vat). Of course, just like all marketing, they know results occur when you are consistent (known as drip effect marketing), so the price reduces incrementally, with a 12-month contract at £1085 (+ vat) per month. These prices do include £100 worth of Facebook ads but no ads for other platforms, so if we add £100 for Instagram too, it totals £1185 (+ vat) per month (£14,220 + vat per year).

Mr Flyer: Our starting price is £995 (+ vat) based on our minimum recommended quantity of 7,500 (lower volumes are very much hit and miss, especially when done only as a one-time campaign). All our prices include an initial consultation, demographic targeting, actionable artwork, litho printing, and door-to-door delivery. Direct mail starts even cheaper but often comes with an initial data licence cost.

Round 2: Proof

In both online marketing (not just social media, but SEO, PPC and so on) and printed marketing, there's a host of dodgy dealers to be wary of! In our early years, a key concern prospects raised was whether we would distribute all of their flyers when we agreed and to where we agreed. I'm not sure if this is also a concern in social media circles, but it should be! Without spending all my time checking everything, how do I know they will send out all the posts they state (and that they will actually be relevant!) and engage with other relevant people/businesses?

Social media: When I emailed the highest-ranking organic site and asked the proof question, I never received a response. With their packages, monthly reports are available, with increasing detail as you pay more, and they also provide an ROI report on the more expensive packages. Presumably, they request lots of feedback from clients to establish ROI.

Mr Flyer: With our leaflet drops, we adhere to our strict ISO audit trail to ensure the entire process is thoroughly accountable. Unlike most distribution companies, we no longer employ distributors and provide GPS tracking (which is incidentally pointless if it isn't live as dodgy companies can provide old tracking of your chosen area). Instead, fulfilment is performed by the Royal Mail.

As per our User Guide: "Royal Mail postal workers are the most trusted leaflet distributors in the UK. They have steady jobs, earning above minimum wage and carry the responsibility of handling sensitive mail. Your flyers in their hands is a much safer bet than a distribution team whom you have never met or can necessarily trust. The flyers' journey from the initial handover to being loaded into the Delivery Officers bag or van is fully monitored."

Round 3: Targeting

Social Media: On the £1085 (+ vat) p/m package, a social media strategy is included, which will undoubtedly discuss the target audience. Data breaches aside, social media platforms are excellent at acquiring users information to enable precise targeting. Be it location, interests, gender, age, occupation, affluence and more - there's no doubt you can be very targeted on who you reach with paid advertising. However, with unpaid posts, there's much less targeting, so hashtags are a great free feature to utilise.

Mr Flyer: Establishing who and how to target is discussed at your initial consultation. The two options we look at are proximity targeting (e.g. a 3-mile radius from your business) and demographic targeting (e.g. those aged 55+ with a large garden). We provide a FREE demographic check for you (operated by Mosaic and Experian) that returns a postcode sector report, showing where the highest percentage of your target audience lives. And as there are over 29 million households in the UK, split across 9,300 postcode sectors, this is a fantastic way to help you find the very best areas to send your flyers. If you have a niche target audience, you may find our Direct Mail service is a more suitable marketing option.

Round 4: Effectiveness

Social Media: Hubspot has a comprehensive blog with fascinating social media stats, which you can read here. To pick out highlights, "53% of the world's population are on social media", so as a business, you'd have to be crazy not to tap into this! If your business' core audience is 18-34-year-olds, Instagram is ideal as they constitute 14.5-16.9% of all users, but this significantly reduces with age; 45-64-year-olds are only 1.5-4.7% of all users. Linkedin is best for B2B, with "82% of B2B markers report finding the greatest success on LinkedIn".

I believe the level of effectiveness will depend on your business sector, target audience, and the competence of who's managing it. Irrespective, I struggle to comprehend why a business would choose not to have, at the least, a minimal social media presence.

Mr Flyer: Thankfully for us, there are equally prolific stats for door to door marketing. To pick out highlights from MarketReach and JICMAIL, "the average time door drops are kept in the house is 38 days, and 23% of all mail gets shared around the household." This links with, "a door drop is interacted with 2.8 times." Therefore one flyer reaches multiple people and has numerous interactions by each one. A surprising find for many people is, "the younger generation are engaging with door drops because it's a novelty to get a physical item." This stat diminishes the perception that leaflet drops are most suited to the older generation. The stat most fitting to conclude with is, "mail is generally remembered by customers with research showing it has 35% better recall than social media advertising and 49% more than email."
As with social media, I believe the level of effectiveness, and therefore the return on investment, is dictated by your business sector, target audience, and, most importantly, the company's competency and trustworthiness performing the door drops and direct mail campaigns.

And the winner is…

If we look at the scores for each round:

Round 1: This goes to Mr Flyer, with a £555 (+ vat) starting price saving. Round 2: Thanks to our ISO audit trails, we have a more concrete system to prove tangible work has taken place, so Mr Flyer wins this too. Round 3: Providing you pay for extra ads on social media, you can reach a very targeted audience. There's no additional cost to target with door to door, but there is usually direct mail. I do think social media just pips Mr Flyer to the post here, though. Round 4: With the younger generation particularly, social media can be very effective. And thanks to Linkedin, B2B marketing can be very effective too. Leaflets have the advantage of multiple interactions by multiple people and are remembered much more. Both options can be incredibly effective, so annoyingly (for me), I must judge a draw.

Tallying up then, it would appear Mr Flyer wins rounds one and two, round three goes to social media, and as round four is a draw, Mr Flyer is crowned victorious!

In Conclusion

When you look at printed marketing in general, it is an old age marketing strategy, which certainly has passed the test of time. Surviving and still thriving through the introduction of radio, TV, the internet and most recently, social media. However, to bring balance to this, I want to reiterate my comment at the beginning, which is not to consider social media and printed marketing as either/or, but complementary - to work together as part of a marketing mix and an overarching marketing strategy. Round 4 highlights that both are highly effective when experts execute them, so why would you want your business only to receive half the benefits?

At Mr Flyer, our goal is to build your business and build your brand simpler, faster and cheaper. If you would like to speak with us to see how a door to door and/or direct mail campaign will build your business, please contact us today.