With the benefits of email marketing software allied to all but instant returns, you might think that postal surveys have had their day. All one has to do is consider the disadvantages.
1/ They are, most assuredly slow. It will be at least weeks, maybe even months, before sufficient returns arrive. The results could not be classified as current.
2/ They take a considerable time to create and are quite technical. It is essential to test them.
3/ Response rates can vary quite dramatically. Further, they are often quite low. A big risk to take with a fair sized investment.
4/ The demographic that replies to the survey might well be limited.
5/ There is no way you can ask a correspondent to clarify an answer.
6/ If you make a mistake in the format of the questioning, it cannot be changed once underway.
7/ Especially in B2B, the person completing the questionnaire might not be the person it was sent to. You may have addressed it to the CEO but the respondent might be the intern.
8/ Short questionnaires tend to have a better respond rate than long ones so questions are limited.
9/ Costs are far higher than for an email marketing campaign.
That just about does it in for postal surveys you might think. But there are advantages.
1/ There is no need to keep it local or even national.
2/ There is no interviewer bias as long as the questions themselves are neutral.
3/ Despite them taking a considerable time to reply, they are less resource intensive than telephone surveys.
4/ You can question large numbers.
5/ It does not take up an email slot.
6/ You can question those who do not buy online or visit your website.
7/ The answers are exact and can be easily transferred to a database.
Postal surveys are just another tool available to us, one not to be dismissed just because it is old technology. It needs to be cost effective, so start out with clearly defined goals, keeping in mind that the intent is to statistically analyse the data. Postal surveys can be of benefit to email marketing despite the disadvantages.