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Online, offline - mail matters


Mail has emerged as something that not only cuts through digital clutter, but also acts as a bridge between the physical and digital worlds according to DMA and Ricoh research Mail Matters

The DMA hosted the reveal of our new research, Mail Matters, looking at the impact of mail in modern campaigns.

According to host and report writer David Reed, "It’s an almost invisible channel – there is not much coverage. But there is £1.5bn in ad spend. It is in use and does have value. What do marketers find value in? That’s what informed the research."

He said ad mail had shed its old image. "Not that long ago, ad mail had not that good a reputation. It was referred to as ‘junk’ mail, but only 14% said this was an issue today," he said.

However, there seemed to be a skills gap opening up. "10-15 years ago, you would all be assumed to know direct mail and know how to buy into that channel. Now it’s quite rare to find a direct marketing specialist in-house."

The DMA's head of media channels, Emma-Jayne McEwan, presented the research. "We tried to get away from economic modelling and into skillsets and what you do day-to-day," she said.

"We are not saying it’s mail over other channels or just mail matters, but it’s worth considering as part of your overall marketing. Look at where your customers go," she said.

According to the recent Private Life of Mail research, mail triggers an emotional response. "There is something emotional about getting something through the door. Getting mail is a joy, quite frankly," she said.

In addition, mail can cut through much of the digital clutter. "There is a digital marketing bandwagon. You may not need a Facebook page and you may not need mail. Just because it’s digital doesn’t mean it’s any good."

56% of respondents carried out at least three campaigns in the past year.

Five types of mail user emerged:

  • Integrated marketers (36%) - this group focuses on the role of advertising mail as an effective channel within the overall marketing mix.
  • Direct marketers (19%) - return on investment is the primary reason for adopting the channel for this group.
  • Advertising mailers (15%) - very specific understanding of the channel’s qualities of being trustworthy, having good customer reach and being a premium channel.
  • Contextual mailers (14%) - the primary reason for using the channel was when it was appropriate for the product or service.
  • Digital mailers (14%) - use advertising mail to cut through digital clutter or to enhance response to other digital activities is the primary driver.

But why use ad mail, "The top responses are – effective, good ROI and appropriate. You can justify mail," she said.

Barriers to using mail were varied, and included cost, use of data, perception as 'junk', and appropriateness to the product or service.

"There is no golden chalice that 'this is what you have got to do'. I say test, test, test," she said.

When looking at what innovations marketers want, "78% said data driven mail was the next innovation, but it’s already here," she said.

To sum-up, she said:

"Use the technology that’s available - there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Is your customer at the heart of your campaign? Take your customers on a journey that’s relevant."

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