Year Ahead: Judith Donovan on the opportunity for mail

judith-donovan-2Debate has been raging for years over whether direct mail can really stand the test of time, especially in an age where digital and technology appear to be dominating virtually every area of our lives.
But I believe that if anything, mailings can drive forward how communication is best utilised. The medium is personable and engaging – just ask Google which uses direct mail to promote its services to thousands of UK businesses – although there are still markets which both over-look and underestimate the power of the medium.
Of course, there are some industry sectors which may still not see the value of direct mail but, for me, it’s something I will continue to champion because of its multi-faceted qualities.
Next year, I believe, it will be an interesting to see how the medium is used throughout industries and organisations, especially with GDPR coming into force.
Under GDPR, there’s the scope to use direct mail to react to updated information and simplify the complex – which are qualities that are, and will continue to be, crucial to operational industries next year and beyond.
There’s also the chance for unaddressed mailpacks to be used as an alternative solution for acquisition, thus avoiding GDPR issues completely.
I really hope that direct mail will become the medium of choice if the Information Commissioner’s Office ruling on legitimate interests goes the right way. There’s so much benefit to mailings being utilised well.
Away from GDPR, I’ve said before that I believe direct mail and direct marketing persuade consumers more than any advertisement on a website can.
Mailings are much more personable and tactile and tap into consumers’ emotional side – which can be the difference from someone discarding the communications altogether or becoming a regular customer.
We place a huge importance on direct mail at the Strategic Mailing Partnership, not least because it is our members’ livelihoods, but also because we have many mailing houses with which to communicate. We know that each pack of information is full of quality material that is relevant, personal and informative to each of our members.
The continued challenge for the direct mail industry is getting mail automatically on media schedules, and getting clients to recognise that it is complex for a reason – because it works…

Judith Donovan is chair of The Strategic Mailing Partnership

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