The Master Report: Making a direct connection in the world of digital

This was a sponsored post by Singapore Post under the Master Report series.

Despite the role digital plays in our lives, having an added personal touch can make all the difference in the world. Direct mailers and physical catalogues are effective in offering brands direct contact with prospects, and a personal touch can potentially increase the possibility of influencing consumers’ buying decisions.

Direct mail has over the years been a staple part of marketing for industries such as financial services, FMCG and retail.

Companies such as Taco Bell, Turkish Airlines and American telecommunications company Verizon have blended online with offline by implementing QR codes into their direct mail to enhance interactivity and encourage social sharing. Additionally, the QR codes also help companies improve their campaign planning, as they can keep abreast of consumer experiences through post-campaign data.

Meanwhile, direct mail is also seen to have an impact on e-commerce. On average, about 51% of consumers who received advertising mail from e-retailers visited the e-retailer’s website as a result, said a recent study by International Post Corporation.

Furthermore, 44% of consumers are said to make online purchases as a result of direct mail. About 19% shared the mail with someone else, while 14% engaged with the e-retailer via social media after receiving the direct mail.

The cross-border survey report also surveyed 28,892 respondents from 31 countries, including Asia Pacific, and found direct mail to be most widely used by e-retailers in India (71%), China (67%) and Switzerland (65%), proving its place in the marketing mix still exists.

How to create the perfect DM

While there are merits to using direct mail as part of a company’s marketing strategy, marketers should still take note of certain rules that drive its efficiencies and effectiveness. Belinda Tan, vice-president of group lifestyle marketing, group marketing, at OCBC Bank, said that as a rule of thumb, the bank spends more on digital than on traditional media. However, that does not render traditional channels irrelevant. It always boils down to the context, purpose and objective of using traditional channels such as direct mail, she said.

“The advertising landscape is changing and the odds are against us as marketers to get our message across to the right target audience, especially with all the digital clutter to cut through,” she said. As such, marketers often use direct mailers together with other channels to utilise the strengths of each platform to achieve business goals.

With so many companies moving towards digital these days, a way for companies to cut through the clutter with direct mail is in its execution. If companies are merely reformatting a digital advertisement into a brochure, Tan said they were “better off” sticking with digital. Instead, companies should collaborate with their agencies to produce a tangible and meaningful direct mailer that captures consumers’ attention. This can help create a lasting impression with target audiences.

OCBC’s direct mails are targeted at high-touch consumers, who prefer a customer experience with a personal touch. This is in a bid to reward consumers for their loyalty. Also, Tan said the open rates are typically higher since the direct mails are “very targeted” at specific segments. Creativity also plays a part in improving the open rates as compared to electronic direct mails.

“There is a need for a [direct mail] concept to arrest attention amid the clutter and it must be relevant. When a direct mail is relevant and captivating, it makes your message enjoyable and often memorable,” she said.

OCBC Bank measures success based on open rates and the percentage of the consumers who actually take up the offer. Other factors used to measure success also include the percentage of spend associated with the offer in the direct mail, as well as registration rates.

Meanwhile, Diane Yap, head of marketing at AXA, said direct mail should serve a very specific purpose in the marketing strategy and campaign. If used correctly, it should nicely complement other communication channels, including digital marketing, as a customer acquisition and conversion vehicle.

“I do not think direct mail as a singular channel strategy will work well. It needs to complement other channels in the end-to-end customer journey,” she said. Additionally, whether it is a new acquisition or portfolio growth, ROI should be one of the measurements of success when using direct mail. If brands understand the customer’s journey in depth, and understand the decision-making process, said Yap, then direct mail can help deepen consumer engagement, trigger a stronger emotional response and increase conversion rates.

For more tips and insights from Singapore Post on direct mail marketing, check out:

Why direct mail marketing has never been more alive

While digital marketing is the focal point of most marketing campaigns today, direct mail marketing is still alive and well. So what can we expect from Singapore consumers and marketers? What has sparked the revival of direct mail and its use in marketing? The answer is simple – with the segmentation of consumers comes the segmentation of services that will better facilitate and motivate the use of direct mail.

Read more on the marriage of digital and direct mail marketing.

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