DIRECT MAIL OR JUNK MAIL?
If you believe all direct mail is junk mail, maybe it’s time to have a rethink?
The Ancient Egyptians are rightly revered for their wondrous feats of construction and engineering, from the Pyramids to the plough. But groundbreaking marketers? It’s not the first thing that comes to mind. However, a papyrus sheet recovered from Thebes, now on display in the British Museum, advertises the reward on offer for the return of a runaway slave. It is often described as the first piece of direct mail.
It may be the oldest form of mass media, dating back to 1440 and Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press, but direct mail remains relevant and effective today. Far from being rendered obsolete by technology, as many predicted, it has actually been enhanced, with big businesses incorporating digital elements such as holograms, QR codes and augmented reality into their mailings. In a business-to-business context, a well-designed piece of direct mail can make more of an impression than yet another email, according to research by both Royal Mail and the US Postal Service. Now, you would expect them to say that, but they have science on their side: the research in question used Eye-tracking kit, along with measuring biometric measurements such as heart rate and respiration, and found that physical pieces generated heightened emotional response.
Integration of direct mail with other marketing channels is also proven to increase overall effectiveness. Several pieces of research have shown that recipients of direct mail will look up a firm or brand online and are more likely to make an online purchase. Whether this is due to trust or because the combination of both seems more “real”, the evidence is that buyers expect their vendors to engage with them in both the physical and digital realms. Even Amazon, a brand synonymous with online retail, is moving into physical stores.
Accountability is one key advantage of digital marketing. We can track whether a recipient has opened an email. Click-throughs, follows, likes and shares can give us further information on the impact of a piece of communication. The ultimate goal, of course, is to generate sales, and it is simple to show a correlation between these numbers. Direct mail’s impact is harder to measure, but again, good design comes into the equation. Crucially, “design” is not just about looks, but also about how the activity is tailored to a specific audience. Designing some kind of response mechanism into a campaign (whether a competition, an invitation, or a promotional code) can be used to measure effectiveness and that crucial return on investment that marketing and design must produce to be deemed credible.
Product catalogues and brochures remain the dominant form of printed marketing collateral in the engineering and manufacturing sectors. Many of these are straight from what could be called the Ronseal school of marketing – they do exactly what they say on the cover. With competition intensifying across industry, however, they need to sell benefits, not features. Direct mail is the ideal medium, especially if it strikes the right balance between rigorous planning and intelligent creative execution. After all, even the Thebes papyrus offered a clear reward to generate response among its target market.
To find out how direct mail can help to grow your business, call Iain Humphrey today on 01582 761212 or get in touch by email.
To view some examples of our work, click here.