Why online giants are missing a trick

Mark-Davies_smallMedia Native founder David Brennan recently claimed that many marketers have been “dazzled by digital” and it’s easy to see the results. Digital has grown rapidly to become the biggest single area of media investment, surpassing TV way back in 2012.
This rise is confirmed each quarter by the IPA Bellwether Report, which has shown that while most other media continue to be volatile – sometimes up, sometimes down – brand owners continue to plough more and more cash into online channels.
However, a study into UK media spend published in November last year by GroupM – “This Year, Next Year UK” – showed the classic DM disciplines are more than alive and kicking, with budgets for direct mail, door-drops and leaflets topping £4.5bn in 2013, second only to online.
And while a lot of online campaigns are undoubtedly excellent work, done well and to great effect, as you’d expect a lot of it is not and it is in those areas of ‘not’ that I sense an opportunity for door-drops to grow again. In fact, I believe that door-drops have the potential to double in size as an industry, and overtake radio.
Sounds ambitious, but I’ve got some solid support. Firstly let’s consider what the humble door-drop’s position is in the strategic marketing mix is. Where does it excel? And what are we called upon to do week in week out for Virgin, Sky, BT, Tesco, RBS, John Lewis, Specsavers and many other clients:
* Drive traffic (deliberately generic, this statement is in addition to door-drops’ proven track record of driving to store, it is now proven beyond all reasonable doubt that they drive online traffic too)
* Drive sales (door-drops are a well-established means of harnessing the awareness created by other broadcast media and nudging the customer over the line to conversion)
* Low cost new customer acquisition
Now call me old-fashioned, but when did any of the above fall out of favour? Indeed they are as relevant to Amazon, ebay, Asos, Play.com, Apple and Google as to anyone. So why aren’t they looking to door-to-door marketing? Because in the majority of cases they probably don’t know we exist, which brings me neatly back to my first paragraph.
Let’s face it, the type of person seeking a career in marketing with any of those online brands are highly unlikely to have had a good grounding in solid direct marketing principles, so there’s a sense of the self-fulfilling prophecy about their marketing choices.
So, why do I think these enormously successful businesses are missing a trick? Because like so many, they are marketing for the future yet to come, not for the real world of today.
In the real world of today there are 20% of the population who have never been online. There are another 20% to 30% of the population who have online access but have yet to make the leap of faith to engage with it commercially.
So they’ve done well, those businesses, given they are fishing in a pool of a maximum of 50% of the population but they are doing precious little to open up the opportunities in the other 50% and that’s where I believe door-drops can help.
Because not only can they reach and engage that 50%, through the use of new sources of targeting data that offer revealing insights into online behaviour, we know where these people live, how likely they are to go online, what they are likely to do when they get there and what sort of products and services available online they are most likely to engage with.
A recent example is Morrisons, which has used mobile data to target households in store catchment areas and saw a 150% increase in new and reactivated customers in trials.
And people’s experience and engagement with the Internet is dictated by a number of factors, including infrastructure (eg broadband speeds) which is a factor of geography; demographics; time of day; availability of time; types of platform etc.
The door-drop can understand all of this and can target accordingly, meaning we can predict of what happens online, and so there you have it, we’ve staked a place for us in the digital mix…

Mark Davies is managing director of TNT Post DoorDrop Media UK

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