Postal Power

Kevin Steele, MD of FOX, printers of this publication along with many others including those for Trailfinders, Mercedez-Benz and IKEA explains the myriad benefits of including traditional direct marketing in your media mix

Mail has seen a renaissance in the last couple of years. Brands new to using mail include aggregators and home delivery as well as online retailers. All of them have been testing it as part of their media mix and claiming to have seen very positive results. Open rates for mail went up 17% in a year to 2020.*

So why has there been a renewed interest in mail? Why is a supposedly non-digital channel now being added to so many brands’ marketing plans? And more importantly, how can your brand take advantage of the new benefits mail now brings?

Mail is trusted more than other channels

When many sources of electronic information and news are having their credibility questioned, mail offers a highly trusted option for brands with consumer trust in the channel growing. Following several high-profile data leaks and hacking stories, when it comes to sensitive or confidential information, over half of all customers say they feel more comfortable with that arriving by mail. In short: mail is seen as more credible.

And when it comes to credibility, 87% of consumers opposed to 48% said the same thing about email. Trust is growing too, especially among young people (15-24) as you can see from the chart comparing other information sources. Mail is trusted more than other channels.

Much of that trust comes from the fact that mail is physical and real. And print in itself has a more permanent quality than pixels on a screen. It also demonstrates that, as a brand you’ve taken time and trouble with your communication which translates into 70% of customers feeling brands value them more when they receive mail compared to an email.

Better quality data improves performance 

Gone are the days of mass mailings to millions of people chosen with few selections from the electoral register. Today’s mail is well-timed, highly targeted and tailored to the needs of an individual customer. 

GDPR led to improvements in data handling and that’s driven by recent enchancements in the quality and accuracy of data. The introduction of GDPR heralded a new era of robust data and reliable permissions. Above all GDPR helped customers understand how and why data was being collected, which led to an increase in trust in brands. It also meant companies had to take more care in how they collected, stored and managed data, so it became far more reliable and accurate.

So when it comes to mailing existing customers or prospects many brands are working with far better data to drive their customer propositions and communications.

More sophisticated lifestyle segmentations 

In terms of targeting and segmentation, an increase in high-quality lifestyle data sources through mass customer surveys resulted in a number of sophisticated targeting tools such as PDV’s Consumer Lifestyles™ Database with over 400 variables to select from.**

The new wave of digital mail is made possible because it’s based on far higher quality and individualised data than ever before. It’s a true dialogue on a one-to-one basis, rather than a scatter gun approach involving mass messaging.

Lockdown was a catalyst for lifestyle changes 

Lockdown was a difficult time for so many of us. People were living and working from home rather than commuting or going on holiday. If you were contacting someone at home, you could pretty much guarantee they would be in. Unsurprisingly, this had a major impact on the way brands marketed with many testing mail as they could guarantee they’d be reaching their audience. 

Mail demonstrated its value during lockdown and became a valued source of information and an even more effective sales tool. Around 40% of consumers said they looked forward to receiving mail during lockdown and that the whole period reaffirmed the importance of mail to them. 

New digital technology is driving results

With better quality data, brands have greater confidence in personalising mail. And the latest innovations in technology allow for tailoring of text and imagery on an individual basis. For example, the latest digital presses run by FOX offer major innovations in print quality, productivity and colourmatching capabilities, allowing personalisation up to six colours. The mailing of personalised tip-on cards with unique numbers have played a major part in the expansion of grocery delivery brands such as ‘HelloFresh’ and other subscription-based services. 

Retailers driving customers online 

Major retailers and smaller online retailers are now sending fully personalised mailings with content driven by an individual customer’s order history. The ‘minilogue’ (small catalogue) has become an important tool for online retailers looking to stimulate online sales. Programmatic mail brands have also been testing ‘programmatic mail’ where, in the case of basket abandonment, a trigger pack is sent within 24-48 hours.

Through technical innovation, global events and even new legislation, mail is now one of the most trusted channels for customer communications. Increasingly brands new to mail are testing it and seeing great results. Can you afford not to be part of the new wave of digital mail?