Businesses (and consumers) have access to a wider range of communication channels than ever before, so what has been the impact on printed mail? While email, text messaging, QR messaging and social media platforms provide compelling and innovative ways to interact with customers, direct mail still has a significant role to play. The key to successful communications is choosing the right channels, the correct mix and ensuring that where direct mail is appropriate, it is clever, targeted, contains the right content and is beautifully printed.

For the love of mail

There can be no disputing the perceived value of mail across Australian businesses and consumers. In fact, 40% of consumers have made a purchase in the last 3 months because of a piece of direct mail they received either online or in-store. Clever direct mail commands recipients' attention. In Australia, 92% of all door drops delivered to a home are read, whilst letterbox media remains in the home for an average of 38 days.

Printed mail prevails

Direct Mail remains an important, leveraged channel for reaching current and potential customers. At 27%, direct mail has the third highest ROI, stronger than digital channels.  And while ever more digital channels to market are emerging, hard copy is maintaining its relevance. A massive 70% of marketers surveyed use three or more channels, up from 52% in 2016. In a multi-channel campaign, statistics show, there is a 12% increase in ROI when direct mail is included. These are compelling reasons to keep physical mail in the mix, and this holds true for customers of all ages. Despite being thought of as the digital generation, millennials are in fact the demographic most likely to engage often with a mailpiece, according to Keypoint Intelligence-InfoTrends.

Complementary communications channels

Ask yourself how your customers prefer to be contacted; better still, ask them! Analyse what channels to market have driven the highest purchase volume. Make sure your communications provide the right mix. And most importantly, ensure that you achieve the right balance of different media, in line with the consumer expectations.  Technology has made staying connected easier and more convenient, but the way people react and respond to mail suggests that companies shouldn't neglect physical communication. For the right strategy, offer customers choice over how they wish to be contacted and optimise your communications for each channel. To capitalise on the immediacy and autonomy of online purchasing, for instance, think about including a digital response mechanism in your direct mailings.

What does Direct Mail look like in 2018?

Direct mail has always been perceived as the ‘traditional channel’ but is now emerging as a high-value way of creating a meaningful connection. New print technology has lent itself to producing elaborate designs, embellishment and ingenious ideas around paper as well as innovations as personalisation of printed material. Marketers producing direct mail today are pushing the boundaries of normal to create communication that is striking, engaging and noticeable – all the attributes you would associate with a successful marketing program to generate end results for the brand.

All statistics referenced in this post have been reused with the permission of Two Sides Australia (TSA), an organization built to create a forum for Australian businesses in the print and paper industry to work together and share experiences, improve standards and practices and maximise customer confidence in their print and paper products.

[i] Royal Mail plc Annual Report and Financial Statements 2016-17

[ii] The Household Diary Study: Mail Use & Attitudes in FY 2016 USPS

[iii] Ibid

[iv] According to JICMAIL

[v] According to La Poste as reported by Asendia

[vi] The Annual State of Marketing Communications Survey, Jan 2018 surveyed 4,000 consumers in North America and Western Europe, as reported by IWCO Direct

[vii] Royal Mail MarketReach The Life Stages of Mail

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