In today’s world, many small businesses have been seduced by the low delivery costs of marketing solely through digital channels, and focusing on the great roi percentage, you can easily see why. So why should you stop emailing prospects to death and start building real relationships to grow your business?

Getting a 3000 per cent return on an email campaign sounds like a dream result. But forgetting to mention that the emails cost just five bucks to send, this means that is only $150 gross return! Not so exciting now, especially when you factor in the time you spent to write the emails and set it all up in the first place.

For many businesses this is a typical result; less than inspiring but for $5 they just keep it going every month. Others I speak to have had varying results from Facebook ads, some are outstanding, and others quite dismal.

Regardless of the marketing platform, I know I always get the highest email open rates and social media engagement from people I have either seen in person recently, spoken to on the phone, sent a personal letter to, or who receive direct mail from me regularly.

I have had several digital marketing agencies call recently to start including physical mail pieces in their clients’ email follow up campaigns, and here’s why: across the board, contacts that receive a physical posted item spend more.

That’s what we are talking about here – turning new prospects and contacts from strangers with a problem you can solve, into trusting acquaintances, then happy clients and finally, raving fans that share, comment and recommend you to their networks.

Throughout this journey there are numerous touch points across multiple channels and platforms. I am a huge fan of automation and the cost reducing benefits, but the thing to focus on in business is not how much money we can save on our marketing costs – it’s actually how to get the highest return on our time and money invested.

If it costs $15 in Facebook ads to get a new contact on your email list and then you spend nothing to email them an automated series of responses, you will get some people becoming new clients, some people that are happy to be kept up to date with any promotions or special deals available and, if your emails contain valuable, well written content, some people that will also appreciate the information you share. But you will also get some people that feel unappreciated, knowing that you have given them no personal attention – that you have spent no genuine effort valuing them or investing a single second of your time or money in contacting them.

These days your marketplace know when they are receiving automated spam emails that do nothing to show you value or appreciate them or their business.

There are two proven reasons psychologists have studied as to why a more personal touch works.

These days your marketplace know when they are receiving automated spam emails that do nothing to show you value or appreciate them or their business.

Reason 1: The law of reciprocity

In Robert Childani’s book on influence and persuasion, he goes through many of the human triggers that compel us to take action in a predictable way. The fi rst chapter is about the law of reciprocity. This law states that in human interactions, when someone receives something of value from another person, a primal instinct takes over and they are driven to ‘repay’ the ‘gift’.

A great example most of us are familiar with is when we are out with friends and someone either picks up the bill or buys you a drink – you will quickly say, ‘I will get the next one’ and you may even find yourself going out of your way to arrange another social encounter to ensure that you follow through. Childani goes on to say that this is a necessary part of our social fabric and that without this behaviour, human society could fall apart.

I mention it here because it is very relevant to increasing your client’s likelihood of giving you referrals, repeat business and becoming a raving fan. The law only works when the recipient feels that the item is of significant value to them or has cost the giver in either time or money.

So you see how contacts repeatedly receiving auto emails and retargeted ads does nothing to trigger a response. On the contrary, you could be seen as an annoying spam business and off end people that are not engaging with your message.

By sending a direct or personal message or gift to your clients, it will not only show them how much you appreciate them, but it will also leave them compelled to mention your services to their friends, buy off you more frequently, and engage with your social media posts when they see them.

Reason 2: The mereexposure effect

The mere-exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon where people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them. In social psychology, this effect is sometimes called the familiarity principle.

Put simply, by being seen more frequently by your clients, you will become the preferred option for them. Having direct mail, phone calls and other offline mediums included in your follow up or nurture process will not only add value to the relationship, it will also off er extra reasons to make contact – for example, emailing them for address details, sending the physical letter, and calling them up to confirm they received your message adds three additional exposures and gets the mere-exposure effect working for you even sooner.

Apart from these two powerful reasons to send real mail to your clients, the last and perhaps most important reason is best summarised by Maya Angelou’s quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

By sending people personal gifts, thank you cards and letters that are well designed and produced on quality paper, it shows that you value them and their time, which will leave them feeling special, perhaps putting a smile on their face they will remember.

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