Following the digital explosion, direct mail suddenly seemed a bit ‘old school’ and marketers jumped ship to explore a whole new world of social media, email, clicks and impressions. Digital is exciting, and changing all the time, but it's also got a tough job to grab your customer’s attention in a hectic online world.
Email is a great medium for many reasons – cheap, quick to design and deploy, measurable, perfect for personalisation but it can be too easy to create and send a meaningless email campaign for these very reasons. There are thousands of emails landing in inboxes every day and it’s not unusual for someone to have piles of unread emails that they plan to revisit one day – but they never will. Even the more engaging campaigns are quickly swiped away if another notification comes in which is more interesting. We are hounded day and night by updates from apps and platforms, resulting in short attention spans.
It's what’s inside that counts. So when an envelope lands on the doormat, it’s light relief from a screen and somewhat a mystery to what is within. A mailpiece evokes emotions – whether that’s curiosity, excitement, fear (why are they writing to me?) which leads to it being opened. Let’s be honest, a Christmas or birthday e-card is really no substitute for an actual card – perhaps this reminds us of our childhood (cards with cheques or vouchers were always the best ones). Would you send a sympathy e-card? Probably not, because it doesn’t convey enough sentiment. It’s a bit quick and dirty.
Remember that your audience might not even be on email frequently, might not find it engaging or might not even trust it. The tangibility of mail (whether that’s an envelope, self-mailer or postcard) gives the impression it is worth reading, sharing or holding onto. As a marketer, you also have more ‘real estate’ to play with. Whereas email has just seconds to catch attention and works best with shorter copy, longer copy can be very effective for a letter – you have time and space to tell a story and include testimonials or extra inserts, glossy images and a choice of stock to match your brand and messaging. You can even include scented stock like suntan lotion for a holiday brochure – smells also induce emotions, nostalgia and action. Within the envelope itself you can include coupons, vouchers, a free sample or gift or quirky insert that’s relevant to the messaging. An invitation or event ticket, for example, feels much more special than a barcode you can print off at home. That’s the power of direct mail.
It’s been proven that direct mail is effective and well-received. An in-depth study by Royal Mail revealed that print pieces stay in the house for an average of 17 days, are passed around the house, displayed and re-read up to seven times. 66% of respondents revealed that they keep mail that they considered ‘useful’. This figure rises for sectors like finance and tourism. Conversely, 51% of emails are deleted within two seconds. The DMA has found that direct mail response rates can be 10 to 30 times higher than response rates for digital.
Part of the marketing mix
Direct mail can and should be part of the whole marketing mix, as it doesn’t have to work alone to get a desired action. The mailpiece is the gateway to further engagement and gaining interest. It could achieve part or all of AIDCA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Conviction, Action) by encouraging recipients to go online, scan a QR code or engage with social media (uploading a selfie or taking part in a competition for example). Or, it can be sent out after your digital marketing campaigns have identified your warmer prospects. Of course, it can work well on its own too, so testing is the best way to find out what works for your audiences and yields results.
At Everything DM we can design and fulfil your next direct mail campaign from concept to doormat – everything from sourcing data to saving on postage using OCR design and working within postal size regulations. Get in touch with us today.