“Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated.“ – Direct Mail
Direct mail is alive and well! Far from being an outdated medium – when combined with latest technology, creatively and thoughtfully put together, personalised and targeted, Direct Mail is and will remain, a relevant and highly effective channel well into the future.
And by entrenching Legitimate Interest as a legal basis for Direct Marketing (in Article 47), GDPR creates a unique opportunity for marketers who have phased out or never used Direct Mail to embrace this versatile, tactile and creative channel.
Read on to find out why Direct Mail should be a permanent fixture in your marketing mix!
1. Direct Mail…Is opened AND read
According to an InfoTrends study 66% of direct mail is opened. Great start! If opened, 82% of direct mail is read for a minute or more. Impressive!
Not only that, the same study confirmed that of the 56% of consumers who stated that they responded to direct mail went online or visited a physical shop.
Those are some remarkable stats and conversion rates (unless we’re missing something) unheard of for any digital channels.
This is the really exciting bit…research confirmed that 62% of consumers who responded to direct mail within three months, made a purchase.
A well targeted, well-designed piece of direct mail can resonate with recipients in a way an email cannot. Something tangible and physically engaging can be a novel, tactile and enjoyable change from words on a screen.
Collaborative research by Millward Brown and Centre for Experimental and Consumer Psychology at Bangor University found that tangible materials leave a deeper footprint in the brain.
3. Direct Mail CAN be done using Legitimate Interest as the legal basis under GDPR
The prevailing legislation, GDPR, states in Recital 47 that processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes may be regarded as carried out for a legitimate interest
Latest guidance from the ICO highlights that all the legal bases for processing data under GDPR have equal weighting and the first line in the guidance on consent states: The GDPR sets a high standard for consent. But you often won’t need consent. If consent is difficult, look for a different lawful basis!
You won’t always need consent e.g. for postal marketing.
What’s more, if you don’t need consent (under PECR) you can rely on legitimate interests for marketing activities if you can show how you use people’s data is proportionate, has a minimal privacy impact, and people would not be surprised or likely to object.
4. Direct Mail increases ROI
According to Brand Science review. Campaigns including mail had 12% bigger ROI than those without mail!
5. Direct Mail makes consumers feel valued
The Value of Mail in Uncertain Times study found that 70% of consumers indicated that mail makes them feel valued. That’s an impressive stat – and all the more so for engendering feelings of being valued (an elusive goal for many brands).
And Direct Mail still resonates with every age group according to findings from a study by InfoTrends and Prinova.
In support of addressed and personalised mail, InfoTrends found that over 84% of respondents reported that personalisation made them more likely to open a direct mail piece.
*Sources: The Value of Mail in Uncertain Times, August 2017
6. Direct Mail creates a better impression of the company
“Tangible material leaves a deeper footprint on the brain”.
And scientists have proved it! The Centre for Experimental Consumer Psychology at Bangor University recently conducted an experiment using an MRI while presenting participants with both digital and physical advertisements. The results showed that printed materials not only make a deeper impression but are also perceived as more genuine!
Research presented in The Private Life of Mail: Mail in the home, heart and head confirmed that Direct Mail is more likely to grab the recipient’s attention.
Sources: Millward Brown, “Using Neuroscience to Understand the Role of Direct Mail,” 2009,
The Private Life of Mail: Mail in the home, heart and head
7. Direct Mail has longevity!
27% of all mail is still “live” after the twenty eight days*
Contrary to the transient nature of email and other digital channels – direct mail can be retained for weeks (or even months) and is more likely to be shared or interacted with by more than one person in the household.
And in his paper, Print vs. Digital: Another Emotional Win for Paper, Roger Dooley proved that while digital ads were processed more quickly, paper ads engaged viewers for more time and, a week later, subjects showed greater emotional response and memory for physical media ads. Physical ads also caused more activity in brain areas associated with value and desire.
*Source: JICMAIL Q2&Q3, Kantar TNS
8. Direct Mail is more believable
Research by Market Reach has revealed that 87% of consumers consider mail communications to be more believable*
In the age of fake news, malware and phishing, it may be that a growing unease and lack of trust with digital channels is fuelling an increased consumer desire for the tangibility and trustworthiness of mail.
*Source: The Value of Mail in Uncertain Times
9. Direct Mail is liked by Millennials!
It’s true, the born to be digital generation like and engage with direct mail!
The “Millennial” generation (i.e. born between 1982 and 2000) is now the largest living generation in the world. While many generalisations about these “digital natives” abound, that they do not like or engage with printed material is not true. Gallop research found that 95% of 18-to-29-year-olds have a positive response to receiving personal cards and letters.
A study by InfoTrends and Prinova – which surveyed a group of 18-66 year olds and their mail habits – also showed that 63% of Millennials who responded to a direct mail piece within a three month period actually made a purchase.
10. Direct Mail is good enough for Amazon!
Yes really! Amazon’s latest new (old) idea is….Toy catalogues!
According to Bloomberg News, Amazon’s first catalogues will be published in the US before Christmas and will be posted to millions of US households and also handed out at Whole Foods Market shops (bought by Amazon last year). There is also the possibility of a roll out in the UK to fill the gap left by the demise of Toys R Us.
This surprising move into print for the archetypal online retailer is further proof that print as a marketing channel is alive and kicking.
So, its clear that when executed well, Direct mail is an incredibly effective channel for response rates and engagement.
So what are you waiting for? Get in touch to talk to us about your next Direct Mail campaign.
At REaD Group we have been helping businesses of all shapes and sizes get great results from Direct Mail for more years than we care to remember. And with the advent of GDPR our services have become even more important and relevant to our clients (from optimising data selections and data quality to campaign reporting and analysis). We’re a safe pair of hands.
Direct Mail can be used under the basis of Legitimate Interest under GDPR (or put another way, does not require Consent).
Yes you can! We’ve had it from the only authority that counts in the UK – The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) – who recently provided some much needed clarity on the use of Legitimate Interest for marketing, confirming on their website that states “you can rely on legitimate interests for marketing activities if you can show how you use people’s data is proportionate, has a minimal privacy impact, and people would not be surprised or likely to object.” Great to have some clear guidance and a green light for responsible, consumer centric direct mailing.
Using Legitimate Interest in practice requires the application of a good dose of…common sense!
OK so the ICO call it a Legitimate Interest Assessment (LIA) – but essentially what they are looking for is the application of the main principles of the GDPR – openness, honesty and transparency – supported by evidence that you have carefully considered the impact on an individual and made an informed and fair judgement that your interests and the interests of the individual are balanced.
Executed well, Direct mail is proven to be an incredibly effective channel for response rates and engagement.
Put simply – it works! Great Direct Mail will deliver great results. It can grab more attention, engage and help to create closer relationships and generate more responses.
Recent research by Brand Science confirmed “when mail was included in the marketing mix, campaigns had 12% bigger ROI than those without mail.” Impressive!
Anecdotally, one of our clients recently reported a consistently high ROI and an average of 1000+ new customers/month from Direct Mail.
AND consumers like it! And we’ve got some stats to prove it….
Respondents to MarketReach research confirmed that mail is more believable (87%), makes them feel more valued (70%) and creates a better impression of a company (70%).
Choosing the right partner will make all the difference!
Choose a partner you can trust. At REaD Group we have been helping businesses of all shapes and sizes get great results from Direct Mail for more years than we care to remember – and with the advent of GDPR our services have become even more important and relevant to our clients (from optimising data selections and data quality to campaign reporting and analysis). We’re a safe pair of hands.
Sounds good, right? So what to do next?
Contact our knowledgeable and friendly team who can talk you through how we can best support your marketing strategy and help you thrive through GDPR and beyond.
By Mark Roy, Chairman and Founder of REaD Group
So, at last a bit of welcome news from the ICO. In black and white in new guidance for the charity sector. Consent is NOT required if you are using direct mail and relying on Legitimate Interest. Considering the amount of utter nonsense being spouted by SO many ‘overnight experts’ this is an extraordinarily timely piece of clear-cut advice from the ICO to marketers.
That said, it was rather curiously tucked away in the FAQ’s of the advice specifically designed for the charity sector. That very same sector that has spent the last 24 months, since the Etherington review, paralysed with fear of potential repercussions of using data incorrectly. Ironic really, when the mainstay of British fundraising had always been direct mail, that it is now that very same channel that will no doubt bring about the resurgence in charitable marketing.
ICO: You won’t need consent for postal marketing …If you don’t need consent under PECR you can rely on legitimate interests for marketing activities if you can show how you use people’s data is proportionate, has a minimal privacy impact, and people would not be surprised or likely to object.
Of course this doesn’t just apply to charities, it applies to any organisation that has a legitimate interest to process data, no matter what sector. It is very important to realise that when, late in the day, the EU added those 18 words to clause 47 of GDPR – namely “The processing of personal data for Direct marketing purposes may be regarded as carried out for legitimate purposes” – they meant Direct Mail!
Today, direct mail is regarded very differently from a decade ago.
70% of respondents said that mail makes them feel more valued (up from 57% in 2013). Source: Royal Mail Market Reach: The Value of mail in uncertain times, August 2017
It turns out that compared to email, SMS or voice calls it is perceptibly a comparative saint. It is remarkably unobtrusive and has the tactility to create real connections with the recipient and relay real brand value.
The ICO should be applauded for this much needed definitive advice, much more of the same is required… please! Hopefully then, and I suspect only then, will we see an end to the ridiculous scaremongering and be able to get on with running our businesses whilst continuing to protect the consumer interest.
There has never been a better time to plan your next Direct Mail campaign. We might know a thing or two about that…get in touch to explore the huge opportunity this clarity presents.