Direct Mail in a Digital World

    Sarah Deacon | Senior Insights Analyst

    How do you feel when a piece of mail lands on your door mat? Is it an inconvenience? Another item for the overflowing recycling bin? Or, in today’s digital age, is it actually quite exciting? 

    It’s certainly a novelty in my house, where the rattle of the letter box results in a race to retrieve the mail before the pre-schoolers. I can safely say that Mummy checking her emails is not met with the same enthusiasm and usually leads to the smartphone being hi-jacked for far more interesting activities (how much Peppa Pig can a child watch?).

    Now don’t get me wrong, I’m undeniably a fan of digital and as someone who remembers a time before smartphones, I often wonder how we ever survived without them. But maybe that’s the problem, we’ve become accustomed to accessing anything and everything, whenever we want.  It has fallen to direct mail to provide the freshness and element of surprise that we crave. An actual physical object to touch and hold, maybe a brochure to browse through with your afternoon cuppa. I’m certainly not recommending abandoning digital channels, but what could be better to sit alongside your digital marketing than a piece of physical mail, to re-engage and re-ignite interest from your customer base.

    And there is no better way to drive your Direct Mail than a Single Customer View supported by a Customer Data Platform. The tools you use to create exciting and dynamic digital communications are the key to creating DM that is personalised and relevant to your customers.

    Don’t take my word for it…


    Research from Royal Mail indicates that over 60% of the population look forward to finding out what’s in today’s post, with similar numbers opening every single piece of mail addressed to them (Royal Mail MarketReach, Mail and Digital Part 2, Quadrangle 2014). Research from TGI (2015) shows that three factors, across all age groups, are key in persuading people to look at or open mail addressed to them. 

    1. It must be from a company I know – This consistently topped the list. You should only be contacting customers who have requested information or who have given marketing permission. 

    2. Contents and offers relevant to me – In this data driven age, personalisation and relevance are vital. Use your data to gain insights into your customers; Who are they? What do they purchase? What do they browse on your website? The more knowledge of your customer you can demonstrate, the more likely you are to receive a response. After all, who wouldn’t want a piece of mail tailored personally to them?

    3. Correctly spelt name and address – Accuracy is king!  What a waste of time and money to design and produce a direct marketing campaign only to spell names and addresses incorrectly and annoy the customer. Or worse still, have the customer never receive it.

    How do we give consumers what they want?


    Firstly, as consumers we can all play a part in ensuring that any marketing material we receive is accurate and appropriate. We can update our marketing preferences so we are only receiving communications from brands and subjects we are interested in. We can also check our name and address details are up to date and spelt correctly, so that any direct mail gets sent to the correct address and is appropriately personalised.

    From a business perspective, a Single Customer View database will ensure that all data relating to a customer is collated into a single record, giving the most complete view of the customer.  This data can then be used to identify appropriate customers to target, with a relevant and personalised message. How about reminding them of the top they have been browsing recently, or the shoes they left in their basket?

    By collecting and maintaining the latest marketing permissions for a customer, whether digital or offline, you can ensure that you are contacting customers by their preferred channel. You should also run your marketing list against the Mail Preference Service to flag any customers that are actively against receiving direct marketing. A sure way to avoid negative feedback from customers.

    Whilst nothing can correct spelling mistakes in names, or indeed account for variations in spelling, there is plenty you can do to ensure your direct mail reaches the correct address.  Postcode Address File matching will ensure that you are only mailing to valid UK addresses. As many as 25% of addresses within your mailing selection can be removed via this process.  You should also supress customers listed on the deceased and gone-away registers, resulting in further cost savings and increased data accuracy.

    So, what are you waiting for?


    The DMA Response Rate Report 2016 shows a 5.3% response rate to direct marketing, higher than any digital marketing channel.  So, why not engage your customers with an accurate and personalised piece of mail that not only has them racing to the letterbox, but racing to make their next purchase from you.  Why not make direct mail a part of your multi-channel strategy today?