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Direct Mail grows its appeal for UK advertisers

March 2016


Companies are increasing their use of direct mail as a communication medium. Fact.

UK advertising expenditure for direct mail rose 4.5% to £965m over the first six months of 2015 (the highest recorded since the financial crash). This is further supported with recent data (visualised in Fig. 1) which relays that direct mail is the UK’s 3rd largest communication and advertising channel, which is even more important when you consider that the UK has the highest spend in digital advertising within Europe.


Fig. 1

According to a consumer survey conducted by data specialist Wilmington Millennium, 48% thought Direct Mail is a good way for businesses to communicate and connect with them – a 7% increase from 2014. A further 44% ranked direct mail and door drops as their favourite form of marketing communication, whilst digital pop-ups were only favoured by 2.7%.

Advertisers are choosing direct mail because it has the ability to perform a number of core roles, including:

  • Awareness & Engagement
    • The average engagement time for a customer to read a printed communication is 10 minutes
    • 30% of recipients later buy something from the brand
    • 65% believed it is an informative tool which told them something new
  • Customer Acquisition
    • Interest potential customers
    • 29% of recipients stated that valued mail helped them plan a future purchase
    • It enters an individual’s home and is consumed on a one-to-one basis giving you more time with your audience to engage with them in a relaxed environment
  • Brand Awareness
    • 39% of recipients display direct mail in a specific area within their home
    • It can stay in the recipient’s house for up to 4 weeks, with it being passed around the other members’ of the household
  • Customer Retention
    • 60% agreed that they remembered the brand with 64% claiming that they knew what they were supposed to do as a result
    • Brands can use direct mail to cross-sell or up-sell your products
  • Consumer Experience
    • People need to react with this communication in a physical sense.  Research has shown that by triggering a multitude of senses, content will be read and retained quicker. Direct mail has the unique ability to trigger the senses of touch and smell.
    • Print can convey complex information. Why? The message is on its own physical piece solely focusing on its purpose and not distracting the reader with other messages

Royal Mail’s MarketReach study, Valued Mail, asserts that the feeling of value is a key benefit. Making your customers feel special is always good for business. When a consumer receives a form of direct mail they feel valued as they have been chosen to receive it whilst increasing the feeling of a two-way relationship with the brand. When compared to the form of email, a person has to physically touch the piece to read, peruse or move it whilst an email can be swiped away with just a sheer glance at the heading.

So, you’ve decided that a direct mail piece is right for your next campaign, now what?

The creative you choose is crucial for determining the appeal to your audience. Personalisation in regards to the message and visuals is important to create and establish your customer relationship. If we take Cath Kidston, their mailings are always on-brand and identifiable. Their Christmas campaign (Fig. 2) focused on the message ‘Have a Cracking Christmas’.

This was posted to 300,000 of their customers in a mailer which included a Christmas card, product card featuring an exclusive look into their S/S 2016 collection and a paper cracker. All seemed rather self-explanatory apart from where the cracker instructed to be pulled. After a pull, the cracker came apart in 2 and revealed a coupon nestled inside – an early Christmas present. This was a sensory and interactive experience which incentivised them to shop with Cath Kidston.


Fig. 2

But, there’s no point in going to all of this effort and assigning marketing budget if your targeting isn't relevant and up-to-date. Your target audience must be appropriate for your message (and vice-versa) and your customer data must support this.

A fantastic case study of targeting and personalisation is Boots’ 2015 Christmas campaign (Fig. 3) to their loyalty card customers which focused on a coupon-generated response to drive the recipients’ in-store (coupons cannot be used online).

Boots mailed 6 million customers a highly targeted mail which focused on relevant coupons for their Christmas shopping and was personalised via 400, 000 different versions. The result? A record-breaking Christmas, with incremental profit increased by 60% and coupon redemption increased by 25% as these customers received relevant offers.


Fig. 3

Lastly, you must know how you will measure and evaluate the response so that you can create a successful follow-up communication. In the above case of Boots, they were able to measure their response on coupon redemptions and evaluate the resulting basket contents and spend.

With a predicted forecast of 12% ROI, what’s not to like?

Watch our short video below to learn what happens to advertising mail once it lands through a letterbox. Or download our whitepaper to learn about the impact direct mail has within the communication mix. 

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