Direct mail is back but are the skills still there?

direct mail creativeFew people would disagree that the rise of digital has pushed many traditional marketing disciplines into the shadows as client marketers become almost obsessed with ploughing more and more of their budgets online.
Of course, the premise is compelling. With smartphone penetration soaring and consumers increasingly spending so much of their time online, it is only natural that marketers want to get their brands where consumers interact, lured by the promise of instant gratification and results.
However, over the past few months, digital’s holy grail appears to be losing its shine. When no lesser luminary than WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell starts to question the effectiveness of any medium, we should all sit up and take notice. And issues over viewability, ad-blocking and online advertising fraud, to mention just a few, are beginning to force clients to question what they are getting for their budgets.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the tried and tested direct mail medium is benefitting from this reappraisal. After all, it didn’t suddenly stop working, and more and more brands are returning to the medium thanks in part to the fact mailings have a much longer shelf life and can be used to build closer relationships with consumers.
As Royal Mail MarketReach’s “Private Life of Mail” study has already shown, consumers are happy to engage with mailings and many even have a special place in their homes where they pin up mailshots for future reference, something digital marketers can only dream of.
And mail is also a welcome relief from the digital bombardment. One recent study revealed that almost half of consumers (48%) now think that direct mail is a good way for a business to connect with them; an increase of 7% since 2014.
It also found that 44% of consumers ranked direct mail and door-drops as their preferred form of direct marketing, overtaking email on 42%. Pop-ups on the other hand received the lowest seal of approval, being the preferred medium for only 2.7% of people.
But with so much focus being on digital techniques – most junior marketers know little else – the basic skills of creating a mailpack are in danger of being lost. So where do you start?
One man who undoubtedly knows a thing or two about direct mail is John Watson, the chairman and managing director of WPN Chameleon, and a self-confessed “direct-mail-aholic”.
headleyJohn, who has been crafting mailpacks for over three decades, has just detailed his 11 top tips – covering everything from envelope design and the tone of the letter to the best call to action and creative treatment – to make your campaigns more successful.
As an emerging discipline, digital is still facing a huge learning curve, the question is, can you afford to ignore a medium which has proved its worth, time and time again?

Patrick Headley is group chief executive of GI Solutions Group


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