Mail ‘one of the most powerful forces’ in post-Covid era

mail_range roverThe impact of the pandemic, combined with the acceleration of digital transformation and unprecedented changes in consumer media consumption habits, have seen a major reinvention of the role of direct mail, making mailshots one of the most powerful forces in marketing.

That is according to “Driving Effectiveness with Direct Mail”, a new study from WARC and Royal Mail MarketReach, which offers further evidence that direct mail is undergoing a renaissance as the country emerges from Covid-19.

The study is based on an analysis of 218 UK award-winning campaigns for effectiveness that used direct mail as the lead media or in the media mix, published between 2016 and 2020 on WARC’s case study database, as well as a review of WARC’s global data, industry knowledge and data from Jicmail, IPA TouchPoints and YouGov.

Despite the rise of numerous digital channels, direct mail continues to be the third largest advertising medium in the UK behind online and TV.

Moreover nearly three quarters (70%) of consumers have been driven to an online activity by direct mail, while more than a third (35%) of campaigns that use direct mail in the media mix recorded an ROI benefit, compared to just 23% for the UK average.

The report also outlines how mail should be reconsidered to drive ROI and sustained growth.

Mail makes the difference
Direct mail can act as a real differentiator in marketing campaigns, driving clear growth for brands that invest. Although viewed as a “background channel” in the peak of digital revolution, mailshots are now being reappraised by marketers. Their physical presence in consumers’ homes, combined with digital integration, is driving share of voice and return on investment for brands across all categories.

Longer attention span
Direct mail can be highly personalised and targeted, capturing attention for longer than digital channels. The physical nature of direct mail means it captures both sensory and mental attention, with an average engagement rate of 95%. Attention and interaction are driven further the more mail is personalised, particularly resonating with Generation Z consumers, who have grown up with digital messaging and for whom mail presents something unique.

Higher acquisition and retention
Direct mail delivers on both brand and performance goals and the inclusion of mail in a campaign drives higher acquisition rates, particularly when highly targeted, making it suited to delivering on performance objectives. But the medium also plays a powerful role in retention; 70% of customers feel valued when receiving mail. As brands look at strategies to retain customers acquired during the pandemic, mail can be an effective tool in driving up their customer lifetime value.

One of the most measurable channels
With the right mechanics for tracking in place, the impact of mail on the customer journey can be clearly measured. With the demise of the cookie, mail is presenting marketers with new ways to track performance, particularly with innovations in technology driving engagement and participation.

WARC managing editor of research Amy Rodgers said: “The digital disruption of the past decade has pushed direct mail into the shadow of emerging platforms. But the time has come for a re-evaluation of direct mail amid increasing demands on consumer attention and the acceleration of underlying trends in business and society driven by the pandemic.

“With this research showing that campaigns using direct mail drive a notable impact on effectiveness metrics like ROI and revenue, the events of the past 18 months have shone a light on the potential for the channel.”

Royal Mail MarketReach senior media planner Dan Jury added: “From building brands, cutting through the clutter and eliciting a direct response, to nurturing powerful connections with customers and amplifying digital channels in the mix – it’s clear mail delivers effective business outcomes in a variety of ways, across a variety of categories to engage all audiences.

“Direct mail is alive and well. It has undergone significant digital transformation of its own, remains the third largest media channel in the UK, integrates powerfully with other channels to support full-funnel strategies, is a proven driver of business growth and ROI, and is highly trusted – particularly with Gen Z.”

A complimentary copy of the report, which includes chapter analysis on using direct mail in the media mix, ROI, attention, personalisation, gaining and retaining customers, metrics, and what all this means for advertisers and agencies, is available to download from the WARC website> 

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