• nat sharp

7 reasons to use direct mail

Updated: Dec 31, 2019

The 7 wonders of direct mail

I’ve always been a big direct mail (DM) advocate and get unusually excited about planning a new direct mail campaign.  DM can be such a powerful and emotive way to share information about your product or service and introduce a brand to customers. You can also get quite creative with it.

Did you know there are over 12 million letters sent every day in the UK? But, compared with digital marketing, DM is a relatively unsaturated market, thus it yields higher response rates. So let us look at how DM is still a viable and potentially strong tool for small businesses to use.

So why isn’t it more widely used?

GDPR has lead to a drop in mail volumes according to Royal Mail. However, DM has an important role to play and can easily be implemented into your marketing strategy. Furthermore, you can send DM to your customers without obtaining explicit consent. Unlike email marketing, with physical mail, you have greater freedom to connect and engage. Of course, GDPR does apply. While recipient opt-ins aren’t compulsory, gaining legitimate interest is.

DM is perceived to be expensive. As well as the creative costs, there is of course print, postage and packaging costs. It is also reliant on high-quality data.

These factors mean that businesses often rule it out as it is a time-consuming exercise. But there is no doubt that it can be an extremely sound investment.   Recent studies show the average return from a DM campaign is a whopping £7 for every £1 spent. 

Here are 7 reasons why you should start using DM:

1.    It gets results

Direct mail is more effective for customer acquisition than email marketing. The average direct mail household response rate is 4.4%, compared to just 0.12% for online. It is also highly measurable and easy to track. 

2. DM gives an opportunity to create a tangible relationship with customers

Holding a physical piece of content can have a far more profound impact on a customer than email or other types of marketing.

3. It also has longevity

According to Royal Mail addressed advertising mail stays in the average household for 17 days. To put this in perspective, 51% of emails are deleted within two seconds.

4. DM drives people online

92% of people have visited a website as a result. It is so easy to include a unique URL with a tailored landing page and offer into your DM campaign. This allows you to get really specific with your marketing and you can test different offers. It is no surprise then, that 87% of people are influenced to make online purchases as a result of receiving DM.

5. DM carries greater weight than email marketing

55% of people advise DM gives a better impression of a company compared with just 25% for email. Your message has a far greater chance of standing out compared with other channels and this increases even more if you personalise your message.

6. It can boost your social media efforts

You can easily incorporate social media into your campaign plans and use it as a means to boost your followers and increase engagement. 54% of people have engaged with social media as a result of receiving DM. 

7. DM is easier to understand compared with other channels

One study found it takes 21% less cognitive effort to process, meaning your audience doesn't have to invest time (and brainpower) into your mail.

Personalisation, packaging, promotions…take your pick

DM opens up so many opportunities. I’d recommend you spend some time exploring how it can help your brand and ensure you make the most of all the options available. This will ensure you get the best response.

Here are my 7 top tips:

1.Segment your data

Profile your data and segment by different audiences. You can change the copy and create different variants of the DM so it is tailored to these groups.

2. Think about the packaging

This is an opportunity to make that all important first impression. Ensure your packaging stands out from the crowd. Use of an actual stamp as opposed to franking will improve open rates. Plus did you know that coloured envelopes are 9 times more likely to be opened than white envelopes. 

3. Use of personalisation

Be as clever as you can. Direct mail lends it itself to personalisation. This can be done at its simplest through adding the recipient's name, or on a more in-depth level through behavioural segmentation or demographic segmentation. DM campaigns with good use of personalisation can increase your return on investment by 300 – 1000%.

4. Make it multi-sensory

You can now incorporate interactivity into your mailings. I’ve just created a DM campaign for a publishing client which included a sound and video chip. This was was embedded into the packaging. A video was displayed in a small window when you opened the mailing. I also worked on a business-to-business mailing for O2 where we created the illusion of a countdown clock using a lenticular postcard. You can also experiment with different textures.

5. Incorporate a follow-up mechanism

Don’t wait for people to email you. It just doesn’t work like that. You have warmed up prospects, so think about the next stage. Interestingly DM is more effective when incorporating email into your campaign. This is the perfect opportunity to reinforce your message.

6. Use a strong call to action

You need to build each section/page of the mailer so it reaches a climax at the end. The closing paragraph needs to convince the recipient that they should get in contact/go online. Create that extra sense of immediacy by incorporating a promotion into your campaign. Put a time limit on it to get people to act now.

7. Use of a giveaway

Think outside the box. DM doesn’t have to be a straight forward paper-based mailer. For my wedding, we sent out a box of chocolates to coincide with our Valentines Day-themed wedding. Sometimes, it also pays off to give a product away. Bam, a clothing company recently sent out a free pair of socks to their target audience.

How to make savings

As many of us know DM is not the cheapest form of marketing so let's look at some ways you can make it more economical.

If you’re using simple production methods, the postage costs may be the largest part of the DM campaign. The cheapest way to send mail in the UK is by 2nd Class Letter Post by Royal Mail. A 2nd class standard letter stamp costs 61p. 

C5 envelopes are the largest standard envelope size that can be used for Royal Mail standard letter post. If you want to get the most for your money, this is an ideal envelope choice. Don’t forget you’ll need to ensure that the total weight is less than 100g and the thickness of the envelope less than 5mm.

Print costs can also be reduced by having optimum print runs or using fewer colours. Try to balance savings against loss of quality – you don't want it to look like you are doing the mailing on a shoestring budget.

Tap into all the opportunities available

So direct mail presents many opportunities for us to tap into. It can so easily be built into a marketing strategy. Don’t automatically rule it out due to the perceived cost and data restrictions. From my experience, direct mail has always generated surprising results and feedback from customers is positive. DM remains a legitimate part of the marketing mix with high potential return on investment. Get it right and you could reap the rewards.

Feel free to visit my blog the sharp end for more tips on marketing.

For a 30 minute free consultation to discuss any element of your brand and marketing, please get in contact with me.

Sources: Royal Mail MarketReach, DMA 2018, GDPR Report 2018

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