The days of the mass mailshot may be long gone as brands adopt a more strategic approach but amid the online advertising bombardment the channel has become highly effective at delivering quality marketing, with the vast majority (63%) of recipients saying mail attracts their undivided attention.
That is one of the key findings of a new Royal Mail MarketReach study, entitled “The Attention Advantage: Exploring the impact of mail in an attention-scarce world”.
Based on research by MarketReach and Blue Yonder involving 1,475 pieces of mail, the findings, as well as Jicmail data, were rigorously analysed by WARC to offer valuable insights that it is claimed have the potential to reshape the strategies and practices of advertisers, marketers, media and communication professionals alike.
In what is claimed to be “ground-breaking research”, the report reveals how much attention people are giving their mail across different mail types, the value of this attention, and the role of mail in comparison to other media and within the media mix.
It maintains that mail is one of the most effective and efficient channels for capturing consumer attention. It commands very high dwell-times as consumer needs and behaviours evolve: people’s lives are more centred on the home; there is a demand for more personally relevant messaging; and there’s a shift towards well-trusted brands that communicate in ways that feel honest and authentic.
Mail also stimulates a physical as well as a mental interaction, creating higher levels of engagement. Over 80% of items that have an envelope are opened. The average piece of mail is viewed just over twice in the week of receipt, and 58% is retained for future reference.
Mail’s high level of personalisation, its extended dwell times, and the fact that “the ad is the medium” mean that added to the media mix, mail is also highly complementary to other marketing channels and can act as an amplifier.
Meanwhile, Jicmail’s recent “Attention Study” showed that, over four weeks, the highest levels of attention recorded by a 1,000-strong panel was for business mail (150 seconds), followed by direct mail (108 seconds), and partially addressed mail (65 seconds).
Havas CX Helia executive head of strategy Lucy Halley said: “Mail’s power to feel valuable physically in our hands is not something to underestimate. It’s interesting that this perspective is true even for younger audiences… They live more of their lives online than older people do, so physical experiences become super important to them.
“By deploying mail strategically at key moments, we can witness moments of magic throughout the customer experience. Considering mail in these moments can be really powerful.”
As customer journeys become increasingly less linear, stimulating intent and providing a drive-to-purchase enables brands to increase their share of current demand.
The research revealed that the average piece of mail persuaded 16% of recipients to consider the brand, with 9% saying it stimulated an intent-rich action such as visiting a website or shop. Mail can also ‘seal the deal’. On average, 5% of items led to a transaction.
WARC managing editor for research and advisory Paul Stringer said: “In a world where the battle for attention is becoming ever harder to win, we’ve found that not only is mail highly effective at generating attention, it’s also one of the most cost-efficient channels at delivering against this objective. This is a good time for marketers to reconsider the role of mail in the media mix.”
MarketReach senior media planner Patrick Malone concluded: “As we stand on the cusp of a new era in advertising, one marked by evolving technologies, shifting consumer behaviours and heightened privacy concerns, this research paper offers strategic guidance and actionable recommendations to navigate the intricate terrain of advertising in the context of attention and mail.”
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