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As Seen On TV can’t get much better…or worse.

When I was at the gym the other day (just wait, the irony is coming), an infomercial came on a screen in front of me. A woman appeared in a fuzzy pink jumpsuit that was announced to be the “one-piece, lie-around, lounge-around, full-body lazy wear.” With an acrylic fingernailed hand, she demonstrated how soft the fabric was by making bizarre and entirely unnatural rubbing/sweeping motions on her leg. The ad was for the unfortunate stepchild of the Snuggie® — Forever Lazy® — and, yes, that is the product’s real name. In shock, and thinking this was a rerun of an SNL commercial sketch, I continued to watch (much to my horror).

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Christmas is almost a week away, which means holiday greetings are coming in at a steady pace. While I’ve been receiving traditional Christmas cards in the mail, I’ve also been getting digital messages from friends, colleagues and business associates.  One email I received contained an image of the entire company, another had the look of a traditional Christmas card, and another included a video message from a top executive.

Christmas has officially been digitalized, but I guess that’s ok, because it seems that everything else has too. But is a digital video as effective as a hand-written Christmas card? Or, if you think of it in BtoB terms, is an email campaign more effective than a direct mailer? It may or may not be as personal, but it can definitely offer you different benefits than a traditional card sent via the USPS.

In addition to being quick and inexpensive, sending a digital message through an email service can give you deep insight into your audience. You can immediately track who opened the email, and of those people, you can see the ones that clicked on various links. This shows you what your audience is or is not interested in. It also gives you insight on what you can bring up the next time you are meeting or speaking with that customer or prospect. With electronic mail, you can also include digital elements, such as video and downloadable images, not to mention the viral quality.

When it comes to direct mail, however, it’s much more difficult to track impact. The best thing to do when sending a promotional mailer is to include a customized link to a specific landing page. Doing so will allow you to track how many people went to that site based on the direct mail that was sent.

When it comes down to it, I wouldn’t count out direct mail, but I would consider weighing the benefits of digital mail. The most important thing to remember is that you must stay in front of your audience while staying relevant. If your goal is to communicate with your audience about a specific message, then mail—whether it is digital or traditional—is just a means to that end.

Merry Christmas!

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