Google’s Dirty Secret: The Online Giant Relies on Direct Mail

/Google’s Dirty Secret: The Online Giant Relies on Direct Mail

As you probably know, Google AdWords is an online advertising network that lets you advertise to people when they search on or visit Google’s millions of website partners.

I’ve been using AdWords since 2006 and, based on my extensive experience, I believe it is one of the best advertising tools available to small businesses.

With that said, do you know how Google promotes AdWords?

The obvious answer would be that Google just uses AdWords to promote themselves. And that’s true – Google does advertise (heavily) via AdWords.

But what you may find surprising is that Google also uses direct mail advertising. Google sends out $100 coupons to businesses to entice them to try Google AdWords. Maybe you’ve received one of these in the mail?


Google's Dirty Little Secret


Isn’t kind of funny that Google, the online advertising giant, is relying on “The Pony Express” to get its message to prospective customers?  And keep in mind, Google doesn’t just dabble in direct mail either. Google is actually one of the largest direct mail advertisers in the country…


Why is Google using direct mail?

The short answer is because it works for them. Otherwise they wouldn’t be using it so heavily.

And here are 3 more specific reasons why I believe Google is using direct mail…


1. Laser Targeting

One of the best ways to improve your marketing results is to improve your targeting. And direct mail provides you with an unparalleled ability to target your ideal prospect.

In Google’s case, they can send a piece of mail specifically to a type of business that they know is highly likely to become a valuable Google AdWords customer. For example, if Google knows that dentists tend to be valuable AdWords customers, Google could send letters and postcards directly to dentists.

Google could mail all the dentists in the country. But better yet, Google could drill down and only send direct mail to specific segments of dentists most likely to use Google AdWords.

For example, Google could focus on cosmetic dentists. Or, Google could focus on dentists with brand new practices (with the assumption that they desperately need customers, and are likely to invest in advertising). Or, Google could mail to dentists who have been in business for 5 years and have more than $1 million in annual revenue (with the assumption that they would have the budget to sustain advertising).

With direct mail, you can advertise to highly targeted lists of prospects that are most likely to respond to your messages. The surprising thing is that, for all of the new online advertising tools we have today, sometimes the best way to get your message to your ideal prospect is to just send a letter in the mail.


2. Cutting Through the Clutter

These days, it can actually be easier to capture your prospect’s attention offline, rather than online.

Most of us see countless online ads and receive hundreds of emails every day. However, if you’re like me, you’re not receiving tons of direct mail on a daily basis. My email inbox is much more crowded than my physical mailbox.

Plus, direct mail can really capture your attention. Think about the process of going to your physical mailbox, getting your mail, and then sitting down to open it. At that specific moment, all of your attention is devoted to that piece of mail. That isn’t normally the case with Google AdWords or other types of online marketing. At any given moment, there are several different ads, emails, or other activities competing for your attention on your digital screen.

So, a major benefit of direct mail is that it gives you the opportunity to cut through the clutter and capture your prospect’s undivided attention.


3. Diversification

There’s no doubt that Google can attract a huge number of customers just by advertising on its own online advertising network.

But why should Google stop there? Google realized that it could expand its market share by diversifying its marketing channels, and even going offline with direct mail.  

As marketing expert Dan Kennedy says, “Diversity leads to stability.” The more channels you can profitably add to your marketing mix, the faster you’ll grow – and the more stable your business will become.


What Does This Mean For You?

I think the biggest take-away is the importance of diversifying your marketing channels. If you currently have 1 marketing channel delivering the majority of your customers, your business is at risk.

Here are a few suggestions for you.

If you’re currently investing in SEO, I recommend you consider using Google AdWords too.

And if you’re currently using Google AdWords, consider investing in SEO.

And if you’re currently just using search engine marketing, I recommend investing in other types of digital marketing channels, such as content marketing and display advertising.

And if you’re currently only using digital marketing techniques, you should consider diversifying and using offline marketing tactics (like direct mail) as well.

Want more ideas to diversify your marketing? Read this article: 31 Ways to Get New Customers


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By | June 26th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|

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  1. Bob McCarthy June 27, 2014 at 8:37 am - Reply

    Thanks Phil

    This article was music to my ears. As a direct mail copywriter and consultant myself, it’s great to see online marketers giving direct mail a shot.

    I know I have expanded my own business from traditional direct to an integration of direct and digital.

    I love online marketing. It has dramatically improved my direct response efforts. But you need to be open to all channels – online and offline – and let the response numbers dictate your next move.

    Thanks for writing this.

    • Phil June 27, 2014 at 1:19 pm - Reply

      You’re welcome, Bob! Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you liked the article.

  2. Damon Za July 2, 2014 at 2:00 am - Reply

    Thanks Phil for this very informative article.

  3. July 21, 2014 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    Thanks Phil for sharing this great article. Your article reminds me “The Gary Halbert Letter” where Gary teaches his son how to target offline prospects through Direct Mail Marketing. I think DMM will remain one of the best strategy for seasoned marketers for many years to come. It targets the and moms and pops type of audience who are reluctant to go online at any time soon. Infact, I have also received an offer through my web hosting company included a $100 coupon code for AdWords. However, I am surprised to see that Google hasn’t opted into Email Marketing yet. Probably, that’s because email marketing has transparency issues and more sensitive compare to DMM. What do you think?

  4. Catherine Marshall November 22, 2014 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    I definitely agree with what’s been said. Email and direct marketing can work together in order to achieve the desired conversion from the consumer. Direct mail does need good research before it’s sent because otherwise you’re not targeting the right people. Thanks for sharing!

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