A marketing tactic that’s as old as the yellow pages, direct mail marketing is one of the first places an HVAC company turns to when it comes to ramping up sales. Hundreds of thousands of companies have sent direct mail marketing (Blue Corona is one of them!) and seen varied results. The question I’ll attempt to answer is whether it’s a good marketing investment for an HVAC company.
First, let’s go through the pros and cons of sending a direct mail message. Perhaps the most advantageous aspect of sending direct mail is that you know exactly where it’s being sent. Unlike a lot of digital marketing, you can be sure that you’re sending direct mail only to those in your service area, and, if your list is built right, only those that your service makes sense to send to (for example: homeowners, not renters).
Another pro is that direct mail is less likely to be thrown away. Of course a good chunk of your mail might go straight into the garbage, but there’s also a good chance it gets stuck to the side of the fridge—especially if there’s a compelling offer or coupon attached. It might be the best way to stay in front of your target audience.
Think about this: have you ever heard a radio ad, seen a commercial on TV, or seen a billboard and written down the phone number? I know I haven’t.
Those methods are great for brand awareness, but as far as directly converting sales, I’m guessing the numbers are low. That doesn’t necessarily mean that those traditional marketing channels don’t ever work – it depends on a number of different factors. Read more about traditional marketing here.
This sounds great so far, but there are some major drawbacks to sending direct mail pieces. One of the biggest issues is, of course, cost. While direct mail marketing isn’t expensive, per se, it certainly is more expensive than sending a mass email. There’s printing and postage to worry about, and that’s only if you have a good designer to create your piece – if not, that’s extra.
That leads me to another issue with direct mail – tracking. It can be difficult to track who receives your direct mail, and what leads and sales converted as a result.
Now, notice I said difficult, not impossible – using tracked phone lines, unique URLs/landing pages, or promo codes and coupons can help track the results of direct mail, but it’s certainly not as easy as tracking website traffic.
You’ll need to keep track of who the direct mail was sent to – as mentioned, it could be that your direct mail serves as brand awareness, so customers may not go directly to that phone line or URL. They could simply see your mail piece and Google your company name.
All in all, is direct mail marketing worth it for an HVAC company? I’m of the mindset that anything is worth trying, but it should be done with careful planning. Before sending direct mail, decide exactly who your best customers have been. Do they live in the same area? Is it typically families? Do you have any idea what the income level of those customers is?
You should also consider testing a few different pieces of mail. Split-testing at least two different mailers to see what converts more will give you a better idea of where to spend your money. One idea there would be to provide a URL on one mailer, and a coupon with phone number for another. You could also consider promoting different services on each mailer. Just remember to only test one variable at a time to know for sure what works best.
Once you figure that out, you should consider planning your campaign in a statistically significant way. If you’re expecting results by sending 50 postcards one time, your direct mail campaign is doomed for failure. Sending to a large list, multiple times, mixed with other marketing channels is going to be more effective than poorly conceived, one-off, insignificant attempt. Potential customers need to have trust in a company before buying, and that won’t happen with a single postcard.
Make sure that you track every piece of the direct mail campaign.
How much does the list cost?
How much was printing?
Is there a cost associated with setting up tracked phone lines or landing pages?
What is the postage required?
It’s only after adding up all of these costs, and tracking the successes, that you get a true answer to whether your direct mail was worth it.
Whatever you do, make sure it aligns with your overall marketing strategy. Don’t have a marketing strategy? We should talk! We can analyze your digital assets—including your website—and create a strategy to better utilize your presence online to achieve your business objectives.
About The Author: Ethan is a Business Development Representative at Blue Corona. Outside of the office, you’ll find him at concerts or a baseball game - if he’s not parked on the couch watching TV and movies.
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