The classic letterbox drop is one of the most popular traditional marketing methods in Australia. Leaflet and flyer distribution has been a staple way that local businesses attract new customers, as well as reconnecting with existing clients and building customer loyalty.
Often, digital advertising seems to have replaced good old-fashioned leaflet drops altogether. But can letterbox drops still work in Australia in 2021 and beyond?
Distributing flyers or leaflets by mailbox is a simple and traditional way of reaching out to customers. With well-designed flyers or leaflets, letterbox drops can certainly generate leads for local businesses. However, letterbox drops are less targeted, reducing their effectiveness, and it’s very difficult to evaluate their success rate. Despite being known as a cheap method of advertising, they can also be more expensive than many would assume.
In the increasingly digital world we live in, combining letterbox drops with digital marketing can also help businesses achieve the best results in terms of conversion rates.
Are you interested to know how letterbox drops are faring in the information age? This article is for you! Read on to learn more about the success rate of letterbox drops, the pros and cons of using them, the costs involved and how unaddressed mail campaigns compare to digital marketing strategies.
Are Letterbox Drops Still Effective In Australia?
Household letterbox distribution is a great Australian tradition, and though its popularity has declined, it’s not quite dead yet. On average, Australian households still receive under two unaddressed promotional items weekly.
It’s hard to say what the success rate of letterbox drops really is – there are far too many variables to consider. One of the biggest is actually the dollar value of each lead. Real estate letterbox drops are usually ‘successful’ because the value per lead is so high, and it may only take a few responses to make a worthwhile return on investment.
On the other hand, a local cleaning or lawn mowing business will need a much higher response rate to break even on a letterbox advertising campaign. A leaflet with a sizeable discount voucher – say, 50% off your next pizza – will generate more responses than a simple flyer advertising a service like carpet cleaning, particularly one that’s only needed once every few years.
So what can we say about the effectiveness of letterbox drops in Australia?
A 2016 study by the Australian Direct Marketing Association (ADMA) suggests that unaddressed mail, including flyers or leaflets, is the way 31% of customers prefer to receive marketing information from local brands and retailers.
However, there are a few big conditions that call the results into scrutiny. The study noted that 74% of consumers were pleased to receive direct marketing material when it meets the following criteria:
- when it’s relevant to them
- when it’s from a brand that they have an existing relationship with, or a brand they know and trust
- when they can control whether they receive the information or not.
Otherwise, in the absence of these three elements, the response is less than halved. And in the case of letterbox flyer delivery, it’s rare that all three of these conditions are met – which suggests the real-life success rate may be much smaller than these studies state overall.
Most research also looks at direct mail and letterbox advertising in the same category, when unaddressed mail (ie. general flyers and leaflets) performs very differently to addressed mail (ie. personalised letters to existing customers). According to Australia Post, consumers are four times as likely to throw away unaddressed mail without reading it.
And when it comes to return on investment – possibly the most important metric – letterbox advertising doesn’t emerge as a clear winner.
In terms of return on investment (ROI), a 2017 DMA study showed that direct mail has a median ROI of 29%, ranking third behind email (124%) and social media marketing (30%).
If you’re still unsure if letterbox drops really work in 2021, keep reading – we’ll cover some of the pros and cons of letterbox advertising.
Pros and Cons of Letterbox Drops
Letterbox drops help small to medium businesses target local customers at the right time. When done correctly, leaflets and flyers can be visually attractive and contain useful information about the business, products or services.
Here are the pros and cons of using letterbox drops in 2021.
Pros of Letterbox Drops
- Letterbox drops can reach a wider variety of people.
Everyone has at least one elderly family member who doesn’t know how to navigate email. Delivering flyers by letterbox is a way of reaching these ‘off the grid’ customers, in a more proactive way than just putting in a Yellow Pages ad year after year.
- Direct mail provides a tangible reminder for customers.
Unlike digital advertising, direct mail is a tangible object. If you deliver a flyer (or even a fridge magnet), they stick around and can be kept on-hand for the future. When distributing special offers – like pizza vouchers – customer are even more likely to save them for future use.
- Letterbox drops get your message straight into the hands of consumers.
As letterbox drops are a direct form of advertising, they bypass a lot of the other barriers that marketing communications face. Unlike TV advertising, direct mail doesn’t rely on consumers tuning in to a certain channel or show before they view it.
- Letterbox advertising connects with locals in the real-world environment.
Physically delivering flyers to neighbourhood letterboxes can establish you as part of the local community – a physical neighbour, so to speak, rather than one of many businesses in the digital landscape. This can help customers feel more familiar with your business than an exclusively digital presence.
- Direct mail is a less crowded communication channel.
Now that Australians receive less than two unaddressed mail items per week, letterbox drops may stand out to customers more than an email in a cluttered inbox. While many emails are deleted before they’re read, a flyer left in a mailbox may get more engagement from readers, even if it does end up in the recycling bin afterwards.
- Flyers and leaflets are easy to share with others.
Physical advertising material is more easily shared with friends and family – whether that’s a flyer stuck on the fridge or a local beautician’s special offer passed on to a friend.
Cons of Letterbox Drops
- Letterbox drops are generalised, not targeted marketing.
When delivering flyers by mailbox, you have limited access to demographic information (eg. gender, age, income level) and cannot effectively target your ideal customers. This means that a large proportion of your unaddressed mail budget is likely to be wasted communicating with people who are unlikely to purchase. This may include delivering flyers for renovation services to rental properties whose residents can’t make buying decisions, or beautician flyers to an all-male household unlikely to ever become customers.
- Printed advertising material generates large volumes of waste.
Most flyers and leaflets are discarded once read, and in many cases aren’t even recycled. For more environmentally-conscious consumers, leaflet advertising can actually have a negative effect on the perception of your business. Many people now see ‘snail mail’ advertising as unnecessary and wasteful, and even major retailers have moved away from mailbox catalogues.
- It’s difficult to track the performance of letterbox advertising.
Once your leaflets are delivered, how will you know how effective your campaign was, or whether it was financially worthwhile at all? You can’t directly measure the response rate to letterbox drops, or determine how far into the buying journey potential customers changed their minds. Industry experts all agree that measurable marketing campaigns with clear goals are the way to go, ensuring always know what the return on investment is and can spend your marketing dollars wisely.
- Delivering flyers is a limited and one-way form of communication.
First of all, there’s only so much creative thinking you can do when you’re printing a leaflet. There’s no opportunity to include additional media elements like videos, which customers absolutely love. Even emails and social media posts make it easy for customers to respond and engage, building a real relationship – not just a one-way broadcast. Customers also need to complete multiple steps to follow up on a flyer ad, like remembering to keep the flyer and getting around to making a phone call.
- Letterbox drops can be very expensive to carry out. Mailbox advertising may have previously been on the lower end of the scale, but times have changed, and the digital era has brought with it many new low-cost marketing channels. Flyer distribution includes the cost of designing, printing and physically delivering the leaflets, all of which have costs associated.
- Flyers need to be delivered repeatedly and consistently to be effective.
Experts generally agree that frequency is one of the key ingredients for a successful letterbox advertising campaign. When you’re aiming to reach your entire service area – perhaps three or four times before the customer finally contacts your business – costs can reach into the high five figures. Performing split testing to find the right formula – for instance, varying colours, flyer design, and special offers – will set you back a large chunk of cash with every round of advertising material. By the time you’ve found what works best with your audience, you may have already spent $100,000 on leaflet distribution.
Interested to find out how much it costs to do a letterbox drop in 2021? We’ve gathered some more information and a helpful case study below.
How Much Does It Cost to Do a Letterbox Drop?
The cost of doing a letterbox drop varies, depending on the size, area of delivery, how often you do it, who is doing it and many other factors.
To help you understand the costs involved in doing a letterbox drop, we’ll take a look at an example suburb: Glen Waverley in Melbourne. According to Australia Post’s coverage data, there are 14,569 private homes in the suburb that accept advertising material. For each expense, we’ll look at how much it would cost to reach all of these homes.
Considering that most businesses service a much wider area than just one suburb, this example illustrates how quickly the cost of leaflet advertising adds up. To cover the Monash council area – one of the smaller districts of Melbourne – you’d need to print and distribute a whopping 54,800 flyers.
Australia Post Letterbox Drop Cost
Australia Post’s Unaddressed Mail service lets you send flyers, catalogues and other promotional material to eligible addresses in your targeted suburbs or postcodes.
Prices vary according to the size and weight of the articles to be delivered, and whether you’re after standard or premium delivery (14 days versus 7 days).
For small letters and flyers (under 50g) delivered within the state, prices range from $0.205 per item for under 50g up to $0.410 for items between 50g and 100g. Delivering unaddressed mail interstate or choosing a premium service will cost more, up to $0.574 per letter in some circumstances.
It’s difficult to figure out what this means for the cost of a full letterbox distribution campaign. To give us a better understanding of the pricing, we can use our example suburb, Glen Waverley.
With 14,569 eligible homes in the suburb, the cost of standard Australia post flyer delivery to each address in Glen Waverley would be $2986.65 for a small letter under 50g, up to $5973.29 for a large letter between 50g and 100g.
Having flyers delivered to every eligible home in the Monash council area would come at at a cost of $11,234 for the smallest flyer size.
Letterbox Distribution Company Cost
There are many established letterbox distribution companies delivering locally or nationwide. With letterbox distribution companies, their prices vary according to the quantity to be delivered, flyer size, area of delivery and services requested. Some service providers will also design and print the flyers themselves at an additional cost.
Many companies which deliver flyers only provide quotes on request, taking into consideration the number of homes to be leafleted and the location.
However, to give you an example, we’ve taken a look at one of the most prominent flyer delivery companies in Australia to see how much their services cost. We’ll also use these figures as part of our Glen Waverley case study to give you a better idea of what the costs look like at scale.
Bell Print is a national flyer distribution company offering a sliding scale of flyer delivery costs, with a lower cost per thousand flyers as quantities increase.
The rate for metro A6 or DL flyer delivery at between 5000 and 20,000 flyers is $38 per thousand ex GST. Bell Print also offers a ‘print and distribute’ package starting at $550 per 5,000 copies ex GST (with higher quality, double-sided printing, larger flyers or gloss finish paper coming at an additional cost).
For our Glen Waverley example, it would cost $553.62 + GST to leaflet 14,569 homes, or $1602.59 + GST for flyer printing and delivery.
This price is for the most basic printing package and the lowest quality paper, so anything extra – like a double-sided leaflet – would be more expensive.
Delivering advertising material to all eligible homes in the Monash council area would cost $2027.60 + GST. For both flyer printing and delivery, the cost would begin at $6028 + GST.
Freelance Flyer Delivery Cost (eg. Airtasker)
One alternative strategy for getting flyers delivered in Australia is using freelancer platforms like Airtasker. You only need to share the task – that is, flyer distribution – as well as where and when you need it done. You also suggest your budget for the task, receive offers and choose the best person for the job.
With no set prices for Airtasker work, the exact cost will vary depending on the offer the tasker places. However, it’s logical that the cost of freelance flyer delivery varies depending on the number of flyers and the location.
A snapshot of recent flyer delivery jobs on Airtasker shows prices ranging from $85 to $140 per 1000 flyers. When using Airtasker for letterbox marketing, you may also have trouble finding just one worker to complete the delivery route if you’re targeting a whole suburb or region.
To give you a ballpark estimate, though, our case study of 14,569 leaflets in Glen Waverley would probably cost somewhere in the realm of $1200 to $2000 to deliver through Airtasker.
If you’re looking at completing the whole Monash council area, you’d almost certainly need to hire multiple walkers, at a cost of up to $8000.
Cost of Letterbox Flyer Template & Design
Many free tools for template and design are now available online. A good example of this is Canva, an online design and publishing tool. This graphic design platform allows you to use templates and easily create finished pieces even if you have no experience with photo editing.
The app also offers paid subscriptions like Canva Pro and Canva for Enterprise which include more features, but the basic version is free to use.
If you don’t have the time to make your own flyer design, many letterbox distribution companies also offer in-house flyer design services. You can also engage a freelancer to create a flyer or leaflet design for you via platforms like Airtasker or Fiverr. The cost varies from $5 to $500 through these platforms but be warned – the quality also differs between individual taskers.
Cost of Printing Flyers
The price of printing advertising flyers will vary depending on your printing company of choice, as well as the size and quantity of materials to be printed.
For example, with Bell Print, the cost of printing 10,000 fully coloured DL brochures (110gsm) is $327 + GST for single-side printing and $425 + GST for double-side printing.
For our Glen Waverley example, the cost of printing 15,000 flyers starts at $417 + GST. For 50,000 flyers – below the number needed to cover the Monash council area – the cost starts at $952 + GST.
Digital Marketing vs. Letterbox Drops
Marketing is essential to profitability when it comes to the success of any business. As a business owner, you need to have effective ways of attracting customers to your business.
Although delivering flyers can still be effective in 2021, a business should also consider what digital marketing strategies have to offer.
When compared with letterbox drops, digital marketing can offer several advantages over traditional advertising methods.
- Your marketing messages appear directly in front of the customer’s gaze.
A ‘no junk mail’ sign is no barrier when it comes to online marketing, nor is your promotional material abandoned in the mailbox or recycling bin. Digital strategies bypass these barriers, ensuring you reach more homes & even multiple decision-makers within the household.
- Digital channels offer targeted and measurable marketing strategies.
With digital campaigns, you can choose to target your most valuable customers precisely according to demographics. You can even track conversions and measure the return on investment based on enquiries, responses and clicks on your campaign. Digital marketing gives you access to in-depth data about the sales process, so you can troubleshoot the points where customers disengage and ultimately improve your marketing efforts.
- Online marketing is cheap, cost-effective and adaptable for every budget.
Digital marketing is cheaper than letterbox advertising and allows you to spend the amount that suits your budget. Leaflet distribution is traditionally seen as a low-cost advertising method, but when you do the math, digital channels are better value, especially for small businesses. With the latest online marketing options, like pay-per-click advertising and lead generation sites, you can even decide how much you’re willing to pay per leads or choose the most profitable jobs to take on.
- Digital marketing gives businesses and customers more options.
With digital marketing, your audience can choose how they want to receive your content. Some people may prefer blog content while others like watching videos or scrolling their social media feed. Digital channels give you the flexibility to reach customers in ways that engage them most. One of the biggest new ideas in the industry is permission-based marketing – if customers have the chance to opt in, they’ll perceive any communications much more positively.
- Digital marketing works for you 24/7, whenever your customers are looking.
A digital marketing campaign is available 24/7, at the right time for customers to take action. If you’re delivering flyers for a carpet cleaning company, how many customers will really need their carpets cleaned in the next few weeks? How many people will keep the flyer on hand until they actually need the service? Digital content is available all day long, all year round, and can often be automated so it’s hands-off and cost-effective for businesses.
- Digital marketing creates better quality leads for a higher conversion rate.
Online channels allow you to target better quality leads – including those who are already interested and searching for a service provider. The reality is that many people are actively searching for your service – and digital marketing ensures they find your business to solve their problem. Connecting with people who are already looking for your service is more financially rewarding than pitching what you do from scratch.
When weighing up the benefits and the costs of letterbox drops vs digital marketing, online channels can offer much more bang for your buck.
In one US study, 900 consumers were asked whether they’re more likely to read direct mail or promotional emails. The results stated that:
- 33.3% were more likely to read direct mail
- 22.9% were more likely to read emails
- 34.1% would read both equally
Now comes the more important question: which of those advertising campaigns would be more expensive to put into action?
For the cost of a single leafleting campaign, how many leads could you generate using digital channels?
Which gives you the better opportunity to track, evaluate, and improve your marketing communications at the lowest cost?
While letterbox drops clearly still generate bookings and sales, the bigger question is whether letterbox advertising is the best use of a small firm’s limited marketing budget. When looking at the bigger picture, the data suggest that the ROI of flyer distribution just doesn’t compare to what low-cost digital marketing strategies have to offer.
Of course, digital and traditional marketing strategies aren’t mutually exclusive. The most effective use of your marketing budget could be a combination of both tactics – for instance, an annual flyer delivery campaign at a peak time of year (eg. the beginning of summer for an air conditioning maintenance company) combined with digital marketing strategies throughout the year.
This allows a business to cast a wider net at times when general interest is higher, then use targeting strategies and lead generation platforms to receive a steady stream of work in the off-season.
Whatever combination of marketing strategies you choose, the key is to closely monitor your spending versus your return on investment. If traditional methods aren’t generating enough leads to be worthwhile, why not try something new?
Can I Legally Put Flyers in Mailboxes in Australia?
It’s legal to deliver advertising flyers and leaflets to mailboxes in Australia. However, if homeowners have a “no junk mail” or similar sign on their letterbox, delivering flyers to that address can be considered an unlawful delivery, and fines can apply.
Anti-litter laws also specify that mailboxes are the only place flyers should be left. It’s illegal to leave flyers on people’s doors, on the front step or on a vehicle.
If a mailbox is full, then flyers can be placed in newspaper receptacles or under doors. When the materials are too big or bulky – unlikely for a simple leaflet – they can be placed in a practical location, somewhere where they’re not likely to blow away.
Can I Legally Put Flyers on People’s Cars in Australia?
In Australia, it’s illegal to leave flyers under a vehicle’s windscreen wipers or wedged into car doors where they can potentially become litter. If you’re caught putting flyers on people’s cars in a car park or garage, you could be prosecuted and fined, even if you hire someone else to do it for you.
The exception is if the vehicle owner gives consent, or when leaving specific kinds of documents on a vehicle: like a parking fine, newspaper, or contact details after an accident.