Keeping direct mail in the 21st century

Keeping direct mail in the 21st century

Isla Munro, Managing Director of The Dragonfly Agency and SMP board member has taken an in depth look at the power of direct mail as a marketing tool in an increasingly digitised world and the importance of keeping it adaptable, to match the times.  

For a marketing channel that helps you maintain a consistent look and feel, profile an exact target audience and is measurable, then direct mail is the channel that ticks all the boxes.

This standout, tactile marketing channel has been around for years and with the introduction of digital marketing has often been overlooked as a trusted and effective communication tool. To some, sending mail is baffling – “Didn’t postcards go out in 1999?” “Why am I getting this junk mail?”, but, to savvy marketers, they know that mail still stands out in a digital world.

Whichever channel you use, building new customer relationships takes months of thoughtful marketing effort. And with direct mail, this hard work truly pays off in the long run, helping to create a deep and loyal connection with customers. It’s about putting brands in people’s hearts, hands and homes. Only direct mail has this kind of cut through and the last 24 months has been proof for everyone, that mail is the key to reaching out with important and timely messaging.

When the global pandemic forced everyone to stay at home the government used mail to speak to the public. Consumers became digitally fatigued and brands, not just food and drinks, needed to think about how they could now ‘deliver’ their message to people.

Doormats were flooded with genuine heartfelt and thoughtful communication from friends, families and brands alike. Were you tempted to try a new subscription during lockdown? Did you notice more mail in your kitchen than usual? JICMAIL insight from Q2 2020 showed us that the average DM piece lived in the home for 8.5 days on average, door drops 6.9 days onaverage, and a piece of direct mail was interacted with 4.58 times – record high stats since JICMAIL began tracking activity in Q2 2017. *

And as a result of this, brands are being seen as relevant, helpful and considerate and in turn they are seeing powerful results, with engagement from newer and younger audiences. The increased frequency of mail interaction driven by younger audiences has risen in the 25-34 and 45-54 age brackets:

Direct mail builds brand awareness

I often use the analogy that you can’t join the gym, go for your first work out and suddenly expect a six pack. Direct mail is exactly the same. A one-off mailing campaign won’t do you a lot of good – unless it’s a one-hit-wonder Superbowl style ad idea! You need to invest in the channel, be organised, prepared and patient. Direct mail is ideal for building brand awareness. It’s more a psychology lesson than anything else, but when people see the same brand, images, messages over and over they start to build connections to the brand.

Direct mail is highly targetable

GDPR was the best gift for direct mail – an opportunity to get your ducks in a row and make sure you are only communicating with people who want to hear from you. Using legitimate interest allows us to profile highly targeted look a like audiences and send them relevant marketing. Still worried about data? There are other fantastic solutions from door drops to partially addressed mail which removes personal information altogether and targets by household.

It’s easy to create a direct mail campaign, and it can be automated

You always have choices and options – do it the hard way or do it the easy way! A lot of the hard work in a direct mail campaign is in the planning. Getting a mail plan and schedule signed off early, setting creative within an agreed format and selecting your data is the time-consuming part. The rest is easy, especially when you link it up to an automation platform. One golden rule of direct mail is always to test. Keep a control pack and test with a new colour, creative image, offer, or copy to constantly learn what your audience responds to so you can home in on the perfect pack.

Direct mail offers a great return on investment

Hard cash isn’t the be all and end all to determine whether your DM campaign has been a success – remember we are using direct mail for the long game and the return on investment can come in many forms. Measuring ROI across lead generation as well as converted customers helps to provide a full 360 view. We always encourage our clients to measure results 30, 60 and 90 days from the drop of mailings, and to pick three (or more) KPI’s from:

  • Customer acquisition cost
    • Lifetime value of a customers
    • Return on investment
    • Return on ad spend
    • Marketing qualified leads
    • Sales qualified leads
    • Landing page conversion rate
    • Website visitors
    • Social media engagement
    • Organic traffic
    • QR code scans
    • Tracked number calls
    • PURL hits

In summary, if you want a predictable and measurable marketing channel that stands out from a digital world, direct mail is your friend. But remember, it is important to follow the golden rule of sticking with it in order to reap the long term benefits.

*JICMAIL source