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Direct Mail is Enjoying a Resurgence – Discover the Three Trends Shaping Its Future

Direct Mail is Enjoying a Resurgence – Discover the Three Trends Shaping Its Future

By Erwin Busselot, Director, Business Innovation & Solutions, Ricoh Graphic Communications, Ricoh Europe

A huge spike in effectiveness as part of omnichannel activity was experienced during Covid lockdowns. At Great Britain’s JICMAIL’s, Joint Industry Committee for Mail, Measurement Matters Conference it reported that, during the winter lockdown peak, 41% more recipients went online for information after receiving a piece of direct mail (and other mail types), and 32% more then went on to visit the sender’s website.

Direct Mail outperformed expectations according to The Advertising Association/WARC expenditure report. It shared the forecasted versus actual changes for spend on various media platforms between 2021 and 2022 and offered an initial forecast for expectations into 2023. Mail exceeded the projected 2.8% year on year change reaching 3.8% for Q2 2022.

It’s resurgence was also confirmed by Marketreach, also in Great Britain, which reported volume growth of 30% in the 12 months to March 2022. This, it said, demonstrated post-pandemic advertiser confidence in direct mail.

Here are three trends expected to help continue the momentum and shape future growth for direct mail.

1 Younger audience attraction

Young people favour direct mail. 7% of those aged between 17 and 24 in Q3 2021 reported going on to contact the sender compared to 3% of those aged 25-54. In 2018 those under 35 years were least likely to interact with direct mail. By Q1 2022, they are most likely.

The Austrian Post recently studied the preferences of “Generation Z” for different marketing and advertising channels. The results published in their Dialogue Marketing Report 2022 confirms the British picture: young consumers in Central European country also love print. While the main channel of consuming ads is social media (Instagram ranks number one in Austria among this target group), 30% engage with door drops and 26% open and read personalised direct mail.

An increase in attention across all ages has been reported, driven by a more modern, engaging approach to mail. Greater creativity, segmentation and targeting is getting results.

2 Supporting Net Zero goals

The mail industry is committed to reducing the carbon impact of the channel as part of Net Zero and is helping its clients to do so too. To help achieve this Marketreach developed a guide in partnership with the mail industry, helping businesses embed sustainability end-to-end during the development of a mail campaign. It gives tips on issues such as balancing strategic objectives with potential areas to cut carbon via paper and ink choice; using clean data to reduce waste through poor targeting and optimising the customer experience to drive the best possible results from every campaign.

Norris Media used mail to bring home to prospects the carbon cost of digital ad campaigns. Following analysis of the carbon footprint of 500 impressions on a target brand’s active Facebook advert, the company posted a package of charcoal of the equivalent amount to a targeted list of CEOs, along with a handwritten letter with a printed version of the advert. The response rate was over 30%.

The People’s Postcode Lottery was going to replicate the success of its Netherlands gold foil polywrapped mail campaign but realised this did not fit with the business’s own CSR values and those of the charities the lottery supported. It then sourced everything, from the address window material to the ink, to the highest sustainability standards. The carbon balanced piece of direct mail was created using 75% renewable energy and fully recyclable. The project also delivered a 57.2% increase in response rate compared to the previous non-sustainable pack.

3 Improving measurement metrics

A much more robust set of ‘attention metrics’ is continuing to be developed by JICMAIL aimed at affirming the effectiveness of direct mail. In Q3 2022, it launched a pilot study involving the diary-based collection of time spent data from half of the existing JICMAIL panel. Early results show direct mail generates a significantly high 120.6 seconds of attention across 28 days vs 13.6 for a 30 second TV ad and 1.6 seconds for a Facebook ad. The pilot also revealed that direct mail’s cost efficiency was the same as TV efficiency with a cost per minute of 0.16p and more efficient than social which was reported as 0.19p per minute.

In fact, all mail formats performed well. Direct mail generates almost twice the amount of attention spent with partially addressed mail, 120.6 seconds vs 68 seconds while door drops get nearly 40 seconds of focused attention. The most attention is captured by government and medical communications.

The key to attention capture and retention, and encouraging action, is dynamic and stimulating print.

From creative imagery and Digital Print Enhancement to personalised content that reaches the recipient at the most effective time, print that engages can be created with intelligent software solutions such as FusionPro and brought to life with responsive high speed inkjet and toner technologies.

Also helping prompt action by blending the on and offline worlds are printed QR codes. Following their wide use during the pandemic QR codes and Augmented Reality (AR) capabilities are increasingly being employed to navigate between physical and online channels for a more seamless customer journey.

The right combination can help support direct mail creation that continues to adapt and evolve shaped by these and other future defining trends.

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