Why direct mail marketing has never been more alive

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

While digital marketing is the focal point of most marketing campaigns today, direct mail marketing is still alive and well. According to the Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report published earlier this year, direct mail ad spend accounted for 1,739 million pounds, 8% of 2016’s total UK advertising expenditure, making direct mail the third largest marketing channel in the UK after online and TV. With an ad spend growth of 5.9% YOY in 2017, which marked the strongest rise for the channel since 2011, direct mail marketing has never been more alive.

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. Not just in terms of services, but marketers can get creative with collaterals, engaging consumers and affecting consumers with a different form of impact compared with the “in-your-face” kind of marketing. More importantly, traditional direct mail marketing can bring new possibilities when married with digital marketing.

Relevance of direct mail marketing

In many ways, physical mail is still relevant in marketing. Its non-intrusive nature means there will be less disruption imposed on consumers. Instead of being pushed with ads which disrupt you when you are browsing through your newsfeed or forced to watch ads that you don’t want to, recipients can read the mailer in the comfort of their home. Furthermore, it allows recipients to “experience” the product.

Depending on the design, it can be interactive and engaging. Some advertisers can include scent or textures and create a lasting impression on the recipient.

An untapped potential in omni-channel marketing

Instead of comparing online or offline – which is better – we want to get across the message that “online can be better when done together with offline, and vice versa”. The potential of direct mail marketing, combined with digital marketing channels, can unleash new possibilities for marketers. From branding and product marketing, to relationship and loyalty engagement, direct mail marketing tends to be forgotten and gets pushed to the background.

The rise of social media influencers and their unboxing of Insta-stories is a possible area marketers can leverage on. Why not make use of direct mail to make your most loyal customers feel special, which will deepen your relationship with your customers and reward their loyalty. Moreover, this experience will increase the awareness of your products and brands when your customers become the best spokespeople on their social media.

Another possibility is how F&B brands and household products can give a sneak peek or a soft launch of their product by including a beauty sample or a sachet of their new flavour of coffee powder or tea bags within the direct mail. Combine this with a QR code, which could link to a digital campaign, and it could actively help new products garner interest among consumers. Moreover, this could possibly be a form of market research to better understand your consumers on new products before actually launching them.

Manage your cost by using the right services for the right target

Understanding the purpose of your direct mail marketing helps you to choose the right service, which in turn, increases the effectiveness and efficiency of your direct mail marketing.

Advertisers make use of Admail for campaigns that are location-based, targeting a certain location to drive footfall to brick and mortar shops or to raise awareness in certain geographic areas. Higher recall is achievable by sending relatable and useful coupons and product catalogues to recipients of the specified location. To allow advertisers to segment their targeting further from a certain geographical area, HomeDirect service allows the advertiser to segment their targeting so they can reach specific individuals, even without knowing the identity of the recipient, through various ways.

For example, an interior design firm could reach out to newly-weds and new home owners by targeting new residential units; while an education centre owner could send a flyer to residents staying within 2km of a school.

To build a long-term relationship with their customers through loyalty programmes, or for companies that can tap into their own customer database and gather insights for marketing, the use of direct mail allows advertisers to “surprise” and maintain good relationships with clients and partners. For example, a fashion retailer can use direct mail to send vouchers to members to inform them of their year-end sale or a bank can send promotions to customers based on their spending behaviour. Typically, companies own the customer data and send personalised mail to them.

One of Singapore’s best examples of marrying direct marketing and digital marketing is IKEA. The furniture giant has always been a strong believer of print, and it has even previously run online campaigns to drive excitement about its physical catalogues.

IKEA cultivated the importance of its catalogue beyond the value of a marketing collateral to a lifestyle product awaited for by consumers.

From what we understand, many recipients look forward to receiving their catalogues and it may even receive requests from the public on why they didn’t get a book! This case study beautifully weaved digital marketing and traditional marketing by creating a hype online, changing the perspectives and providing a new touch of experience when people receive the IKEA catalogue.

It is not the death of traditional mail marketing. It is all about revamping it and getting the right formula of knowing what ticks the boxes of the consumers when it comes to receiving a piece of marketing collateral through direct mail. Here are some tips that will help you rethink mail campaigns:

  • Create a (digital) hype: Remember Willy Wonka and the Golden Ticket to visit the Chocolate Factory? Start a hype that creates and could go viral, pique interest, alerting your target that something important, time-sensitive or specially selected for them, is on its way via the mail.
  • Create an experience with your mail: Bring your campaign to life with a tangible element that shows the effort put into the direct mail piece. A personalised element ups the game, showing that you are engaging your consumer on a whole new level of relevance that would otherwise seem creepy via digital media. Even better, include something the recipient can’t resist showing around or sharing (food is often a hit at the office). Don’t forget to leverage on social media, or even influencers to bring your hype to the next level.
  • Create a memory: Leave a lasting impression with your mail that can be kept on the desk and serve as a reminder of your message, which can be particularly useful for the longer sales cycles, once emails drop below the fold and direct mail has reached the target audience.