Over the past year, with the country in and out of lockdown, many marketers have experienced the power, performance, and persuasion of direct mail. For many people stuck at home, direct mail has been a welcome distraction to unrelenting screen time and a constant feeling of being bombarded by digital communications.
Well-produced mail can not only communicate brand values but also boost engagement and activation. The Data & Marketing Association found that direct mail marketing achieved a household response rate of 9% – nine times higher than the email response rate (1%).
Consumers crave personal interaction and tangible communication, and, when executed thoughtfully, responsibly, and compliantly, direct mail can deliver compelling results. More people are looking at their mail every day, which is great news for open rates, cut through and conversion. Since we first entered lockdown in March 2020, research by Royal Mail MarketReach found that 40% of people either agreed or strongly agreed that direct mail has become an important part of their new routine, while only 20% disagreed.
Direct mail is proven to increase sales when relevant and effective communications are used to engage, acquire, and retain the best customers. So how do you go about planning and executing a successful direct mail campaign? Here are four pieces of advice to get you started.
1. Clean your data
At the heart of any communications campaign is your customer data. But it's not enough simply to hold data on your customer: you need to ensure that your data is regularly cleaned. This is the key to personal, relevant, and engaging communications. Cleaning your data enables you to: easily and efficiently maintain the accuracy, completeness and usability of your customer and prospect data; reduce the costs and reputational risk caused by incorrect data; maximise data quality to enhance targeting and results; and effectively standardise your data to improve matching.
A trusted data provider will help you manage this task. Managed via an online platform, you can efficiently and effectively manage and maximise the value of your customer and prospect data by validating, cleaning, updating, and enhancing your data.
A data screening service will also help you to clean up addresses and add new address services for customer and business movers, as well as checking and deduplicating consumer addresses; suppressing goneaways and deceased customers; ensuring alignment with customer preferences; updating or appending contact numbers and screening for Telephone Preference Service numbers; and collating data including geodemographic, wealth, age and dates of birth, council tax, email, name checks and more.
Maintaining your customer data to a very high standard is the key to powering a well-executed direct mail campaign that will continue to deliver ongoing value.
2. Tailor your campaign
A brand's direct mail campaign, however, should not adopt a 'one size fits all' approach. Brand communications should be tailored to allow for vulnerable audiences, the recently unemployed, the furloughed and the self-employed. Each of these audiences has very different needs, and you must be aware of these. Identifying which of these is which is easy, as long as the right data is put to use.
3. Combine your offline and online
2020 highlighted the need for marketers to be reactive, responsive and above all to keep a level head. Using both online and offline strategies to engage customers works effectively and with great success.
Direct mail offers a lasting, trusted, and tactile form of engagement. Additional research from Royal Mail MarketReach in late 2020 shows that 88% of consumers engaged more with direct mail in 2020 than ever before. However, direct mail can never reach its full potential without the addition of digital communication. Email has a much shorter life span but delivers the immediate and up-to-date content to keep your brand present, and it's been shown that direct mail triggers online engagement too, driving online traffic with a 70% year-on-year increase.
When primed with direct mail, customers spend 30% longer engaging with digital communication. Together, these two channels offer a unique brand experience, increasing brand engagement and instilling brand loyalty, providing timely, relevant, and personal communication throughout.
4. Choosing your trusted data partner
As a small business, managing your data for marketing purposes can seem complex, especially when considering compliance requirements. One advantage of working with a trusted data partner is that they can help you manage these requirements, removing the complexity and anxiety, and enriching the data you currently hold on your customers by filling in any missing information.
To vet potential suppliers, look for unparalleled due diligence, auditing and safeguarding processes that ensure every piece of personal data made available has been collected in a GDPR-compliant manner.
Everyone should be treated as an individual – the more you know about them, the more personalised, targeted, relevant, and responsible your marketing will be.
While it may be hard to justify marketing spend in these straitened times, there's no denying that carefully planned and executed direct mail campaigns can offer huge benefits to small businesses. Clean data, tailored campaigns, a multi-channel approach and a great data partner will help you get the most bang-for-your-buck in your direct mail campaign.
Copyright 2021. Article made possible by Scott Logie. Scott is Customer Engagement Director at marketing data and insight company REaD Group and Chair of the Customer Engagement Committee of the DMA (Data & Marketing Association).