Businesses now have a range of electronic communications channels, so has digital superseded printed mail? While email, text messaging and social media platforms provide compelling ways to interact with customers, direct mail still has a significant role to play. The key to successful communications is getting the right channel mix.

For the love of mail

There can be no doubt that people still value mail. In the UK, the Royal Mail handles nearly 15 billion letters every year[i] while the United States Postal Service delivered over 154 billion pieces of mail in FY 2016[ii].

Direct mail, it seems, commands recipients’ attention. In the US, 73% of households either read or scan advertising mail[iii] while in the UK, 65% of all addressed mail is opened[iv] and 29% of consumers in France prefer advertising sent by mail compared to the Internet (21%)[v].

Printed mail endures

Direct mail therefore, remains an important channel for reaching current and potential customers. Of course, digital communications provide many benefits – not least speed – but printed communications still carry weight. So much so, that according to the UK’s Royal Mail MarketReach 87% rate mail believable while 70% feel valued and appreciated to receive it. What’s more, 65% say they’re likely to give it their full attention and 70% think better of the company that sends it.

These are compelling reasons to keep physical mail in the mix, and for customers of all ages too because, 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.[vi]

Complementary communications channels

Ask yourself how your customers prefer to be contacted; better still, ask them! Think about how they respond and purchase and make sure your communications provide the right mix. In a 12-month period, over 26% of people in the UK bought or ordered something as a direct result of an item of received mail[vii] so think about including a digital response mechanism in direct mail.

Technology has made staying connected easier and more convenient, but the way people react and respond to mail suggests that companies shouldn’t neglect traditional communications. For the right strategy, offer customers choice over how they wish to be contacted and optimise communications for each channel.

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