Why “Snail Mail” Is Still so Relevant in Book Marketing

by Dan Smith

Email rules. It’s replaced the old fashioned letter, and made snail mail obsolete for most written personal communications. Right? If you think so … you are wrong! And when it comes to book marketing, it’s important to understand that over-reliance on email may be hurting your chances for promotion.

Ask yourself this question: Are you more likely to open a hand-addressed letter or one email of the likely hundreds you receive a day?

Then consider some facts about email versus snail mail that may surprise you:

·      According to a study by www.smartinsights.com, the open rate for “media and publishing” emails was 22.26% (http://www.smartinsights.com/email-marketing/email-communications-strategy/statistics-sources-for-email-marketing/)

·      According to a USPS study, over 60% of direct mail recipients were influenced to visit promoted website.

·      And, from Thomson Reuters:

“When surveyed, 56 percent of Americans said receiving mail is a pleasure. Seventy-nine percent act on direct mail immediately, compared to 45 percent for email. Over 70 percent of people open most of their mail, including ads, and more than 60 percent will visit a website because of a mailer.” (http://stateofinnovation.thomsonreuters.com/is-snail-mail-marketing-dead)

While the mail statistics refer primarily to consumers, remember that media are consumers as well, and in most cases follow the same call-to-action principles.

So what does all this mean for an author or publisher trying to get media attention for a book? Email is certainly efficient, easy, essentially free to use, and still remains the most common form of communication with media. However, old-fashioned “regular” mail can and should be part of your outreach.

Obviously, sending all of your press materials and pitches via regular mail is likely cost-prohibitive. But consider sending (mailing!) some pitches and press releases in hand-addressed envelopes, and keep track of your response rates. In your cover letter, provide your email address for easy response.

Blasting out hundreds of non-personalized emails can work sometimes, especially when pitching for radio interviews to many shows, but bulk emails can and often do alienate and even anger media recipients. Taking the time to hand-address an envelope, and including a personalized cover letter can dramatically increase response rate.

Another tip: Very selectively use FedEx to send a book to a reviewer, editor or producer, again including a personalized cover letter. Why? Very simply, industry estimates indicate that over 90% of recipients of a FedEx or UPS open the package as compared to regular USPS mail.