Direct and digital the winning formula

Direct and digital the winning formulaThis week’s DMA Awards have once again proved that digital and direct marketing campaigns continue to be at the forefront of strategic and creative solutions that make a significant impact on brand owners’ bottom line.
Nowhere was this more pronounced than in the direct mail category, where the likes of Volkswagen and The Times proved their mettle, while “Second Chance”, the Business in the Community campaign by Leo Burnett Change, showed how the medium can be used to great effect by charities.
But these major brands are not alone in embracing the medium, which is increasingly being used alongside the burgeoning digital channels to great effect.
Next’s chief executive Lord Wolfson recently revealed the retail company has returned to mailings after a seven year gap, while Royal Mail’s latest results show that direct mail revenue, which accounts for around a quarter of all letters revenue, grew by 5% to £571m over the past six months.
And it’s easy to see why. Despite the doomsday predictions of a few years ago, one recent study showed consumers see mailings as over ten times more engaging than advertising on a mobile phone. And, while marketers plough millions into smartphone campaigns, the City Numbers research showed direct mail is second only to television advertising in the popularity stakes.
The market could also benefit from a major investment in Royal Mail’s Mailmark system, which provides detailed reports on where individual pieces of mail are at up to five different points in the mailing process.
To date, take-up of Mailmark has been slower than anticipated but the postal operator has now introduced a raft of incentives, including grants for mailing houses to update their systems as well as price differentials. As a result, Royal Mail claims that up to 30 household names will be signed up to the scheme within weeks, making its aim of getting 80-90% of machineable mail part of the Mailmark system by the end of 2016 looking more likely.
But there are other advantages to Mailmark; companies can also cut back on so-called reversion charges if mailshots fail to go through the Royal Mail’s new sorting machinery. It also makes it far easier for brand owners to link their campaigns with digital activity by ensuring accurate timings.
Our own Cygnus and SwiftSort products, coupled with our latest product – GeMMA (Generic e-manifest Management Application) – are already fully enabled for Mailmark while data processing software houses and mailing houses alike are embracing the new style of integration of mailing into other media formats.
And with one Brand Science study showing direct mail can drive return on investment by up to 20% when part of an integrated marketing campaign, the question is, what’s not to like?

David Murray is sales director of The Software Bureau

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