Consumers ‘are shunning digital DM’

Most consumers have little appetite for new forms of direct marketing, such as mobile and social media, and would rather communicate with brands through established email and direct mail channels, a new study claims.
The latest Marketing-GAP report by Fast.MAP compares marketers’ perceptions with consumer reality and shows just how many brand owners are barking up the wrong tree.
While it will no doubt be welcomed by one of its sponsors, Royal Mail’s MarketReach, it paints a rather worrying picture for most businesses which are rushing headlong into new channels.
And there is little room for complacency in the mail and email markets; only 30% are ‘happy’ to receive marketing messages via these channels and acceptance of both is slipping, leading to overall decline in enthusiasm for marketing information.
The report appears to endorse a recent Experian study which showed that email remains the most popular method of contact, followed by direct mail. Facebook and Twitter were the preferred channel for just 8% and 4% respectively and phone or text was highlighted as a preference by just 6% of consumers.
According to Marketing-GAP, fewer than 2% of people are “happy” to get marketing messages via SMS and social media, although this has actually doubled since last year. It claims marketers continue to “massively overestimate” the popularity of these channels.
In terms of direct mail, the percentage of people who open mailshots has fallen to 80% only just above the 2010 level, after rising to 87% last year – the highest since Marketing-GAP was launched in 2005 (when 26% did not open marketing mail).
A third of these open all direct mail, while 45% only open messages from companies they use. Both groups have fallen by 4% year-on-year.
Marketers have always underestimated the number of people who open mail. This year they thought 8% fewer than actually do would open all mail. Although they were only 2% adrift in assessing the number who open only mail from known companies.
The report said: “The challenge for marketers is to target the digitally-acquiescent minority accurately enough to generate a satisfactory return on investment; yet be prepared to stick to traditional contact routes, if the newer media do not offer a close match with prospects.
“Marketers again and again prove themselves to be deaf to consumer demands and preferences by overestimating, frequently by hundreds of per cent, people’s desire to be contacted via mobile call, social media and Twitter.
“In fact, a sure way to alienate customers and prospects is to only provide information and offers via these routes. Only a minority can imagine a purely virtual retail world where real shops no longer exist and most think such a world would be a worse place.”
A full copy of the report is available from the Fast.MAP website

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