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8 Tips for more Effective Direct Mail

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Let me be upfront about this. I love Direct Mail. I love its tactile nature and the opportunity it presents for making a meaningful, personal connection. I was excited to read the details of a recent study out of the UK, which revealed some interesting insights on the powerful influence of Direct Mail. Yes, the study was conducted by the Royal Mail and you’d expect that they publish a report expelling the virtues of DM. Nevertheless it made for happy reading for this DM tragic.  You can read “The Private Life of Mail” report in full here: http://www.mailmen.co.uk/

Here are some of the study’s key findings:

  • 39% of households have a dedicated display area for mail, most commonly in the kitchen
  • advertising mail is kept in a household for an average of 17 days
  • door drops are kept in a household for 38 days
  • bills and statements are kept in households for 45 days
  • people value something they can see and touch 24% more highly than something they can only see
  • 57% of people claim that receiving mail makes them feel more valued
  • 38% of people say the physical properties of mail influence how they feel about the sender
  • 60% of people say the best mail advertising helps keep the sender’s brand top of mind
  • 75% of 18 to 24 year-olds look forward to finding out what’s in their daily post (65% for the general population).

All very interesting but how do I take these findings and practically apply them to my next DM campaign to achieve better results (I hear you ask)? Here’s how:

1. Recognise the opportunity
Mail by nature is the most personal marketing channel bar none. For centuries, we’ve been utilising mail to (for example) send messages of love, congratulate, thank, commiserate and let friends know we care. It’s the method of communication we use when we want to say something that really matters to the people we really care about; it’s an invitation to a special event or the announcement of the birth of a baby. Mail is reminiscent of a simpler time, it smacks of nostalgia and it makes us feel special. No email or SMS is going to elicit the same sense of connection. It’s no wonder that 57% of people claim that receiving mail makes them feel more valued.

2. Demonstrate understanding
You’re already communicating via THE most personal channel available. Use your customer data intelligently to demonstrate real understanding of their needs and you will have struck marketing gold. Personalise offers using the data you have on past purchases, location and anything else you know about your customer (age, gender, birthday, hair colour, whether they’re a dog person or a cat person, a music lover or a movie-goer). Use what you know and be smart.

3. Take your time
When it comes to DM, time is on your side. “The Private Life of Mail” report revealed that advertising mail is kept in households for an average of 17 days and statements and bills for an average of 42 days. Compare this to an email. At best, the email is opened and the recipient will spend a couple of minutes checking out the content. They may flag it for follow-up if they want to (for example) make a purchase. This likely happens within a few days and then the email is either deleted or forgotten amongst the hundreds of other emails they receive that week. So the time the recipient spends with your marketing message is limited. DM is kept in households for days, on fridges, coffee tables, pin boards. It becomes a permanent part of the daily landscape for everyone in that home, for an amount of time. That’s pretty powerful. So use this to your advantage and create a piece that has a corresponding shelf-life. Using flimsy stock to keep costs down is counterproductive. Make your DM of reasonable quality because it’s not a two-minute interaction.

4. Integrate with digital
We live in a digital world. We spend our days phone in hand checking emails, social media feeds and looking up information to make our hectic lives run more smoothly. The beauty of DM in 2015 is that it has emerged as the channel that takes us away from all of this and as a result provides a unique opportunity for marketers to cut-through. That said, DM needs to be able to provide a pathway to the real world we live in, the digital world. This can be as simple as pointing to a landing page or as creative as the Nivea Sun Kid’s campaign which integrated print and Bluetooth location technology.

5. Appeal to the senses
DM is the channel that engages more senses than any other and as the Royal Mail study demonstrates 38% of people say the physical properties of mail influence how they feel about the sender. So make your piece stand-out. Make it not only visually memorable but by using unusual stock that is textured you’ll immediately appeal to the more kinaesthetic consumer for whom touch is the primary sense.

6. Make an impact
An extension of the above point and budget dependent, if you can use impact mail it’s a great way to cut-through and get noticed. Impact mail can be virtually any shape at all so the creative opportunities are countless. Australia Post stipulate that impact mailing must comprise at least 300 items per lodgement but outside of that your creative team have a pretty free reign. For further information see: http://auspost.com.au/business-solutions/impact-mail.html

7. Make a statement
If budgets don’t allow for purely marketing DMs make sure you’re making the most of your statement (or equivalent) by including targeted marketing messaging. The “The Private Life of Mail” found that bills and statements are retained in households for 45 days, longer than advertising mail and door drops. This is because they provide essential information that needs to be referred back to. If you’re not using your statements as part of your regular customer marketing you’re missing an opportunity.

8. Create novelty value
Got a generous cost per pack budget for a high value customer segment? Creating a piece with novelty value will increase engagement with your brand and likely increase the lifespan of the DM too. There are some novelty ideas that are just a no-go. The gold fish stunt executed by Advantage SA, an organisation tasked to promote Adelaide and South Australia springs to mind. They sent out live goldfish in bowls to media agencies with the message “Be the big fish in a small pond and come test the water”. The problem being that the fish were dead by the time they arrived – not a great look! Many moons ago, I worked on a campaign for subscription TV. We mailed out a pack of peanuts to hotels with the message that they could provide pay TV to their guests for (you guessed it) “peanuts”. How we didn’t wind up with complaints relating to nut allergies I’ll never know but it’s certainly not a concept I’d repeat ten years on. That said there are some ingenious (and law-suit proof) ways to create an interactive, novelty pack. Check out these brilliant DM pieces for some inspiration.  http://designshack.net/articles/business-articles/12-brilliant-direct-marketing-pieces-you-have-to-see/

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