The demise of direct mail has been largely exaggerated and still holds a place in today’s digital world, suggests Patrick Tame, CEO of digital marketing recruitment firm, Beringer Tame. Following reports that Royal Mail has partnered with a large British retailer to trial direct mail, as part of its omni-channel strategy to reduce online basket abandonment, Tame says that developments in analytics and personalisation have made direct mail relevant again.
Tame commented: “Omni-channel marketing was born out of retail and it continues to dominate, no matter how many other industries want to jump on the bandwagon. What other market works each and every channel the way retail does, to produce a slick, consistent experience for the consumer? The resurgence of direct mail isn’t trying to be ironic-cool, nor is it an attention-seeking marketing trick to tap into people’s nostalgia – it works.
“Direct mail isn’t as analogue as everyone seems to think; it has very close ties to digital. Direct marketing is in many ways the grandfather of many digital marketing and Ecommerce strategies and tactics. Think of a catalogue: like a website, it is selling you something that you cannot immediately touch and which will be delivered to you sometime in the future. Huge mailing lists required huge databases; databases allow customer segmentation. Many of the most experienced Customer Relationship Management specialists in the industry today cut their teeth in the world of direct marketing.”
Ecommerce expert Tame argues that direct mail is easily measureable, leading the way in attribution, personalisation, analytics and ROI techniques that are directly comparable to digital marketing. With so much effort focused on new digital technologies, he says it has become more powerful to market where the crowd is not – on the consumer’s doormat.
According to Royal Mail’s Delivery Matters annual Ecommerce report in July 2015, 63% of Brits are shopping online more than ever, dedicating 86% of their shopping budget to Ecommerce. With just under half (49%) actively seeking out free delivery, it stands to reason that at 44%, consumers’ unhappiness with a retailer’s delivery charge was the number one reason for cart abandonment in 2014-2015.
“I applaud Royal Mail and the retailer for the initiative; a simple offer of a discount or free delivery – if it is not offered – could make them pick the online basket back up time and again, all for the cost of a 2nd class stamp and a printed piece of literature. Thanks to sophisticated analytics tools for ecommerce available to marketers today, it ensures reduced wastage too in a way that direct mail of old was susceptible to – not to mention accuracy in data quality,” he said.
Tame added that direct mail must be an important strand of any omni-channel marketing strategy. “Direct mail often already is part of the wider plan, on the quiet,” he said. “‘Spray and see’ strategies with minimal conversion is out, of course, but highly developed techniques which remove the ‘junk’ element of mail-outs has enabled this channel to live on.”
However Tame does have a caveat as he concluded: “Privacy of customer data and accuracy is important – consumers are more knowledgeable than ever about their rights and how their data is used, so marketers must be very mindful. Having the right people to setup the metrics, effectively aggregate the data used to target customers, and successfully measure it, will be more vital than ever.”