Coronavirus and Direct Mail

By Scott Logie, Customer Engagement Director, REaD Group

Well, here we are, is this the new normal?  Working from home; self-isolating and social distancing; stock-piling loo roll and digestive biscuits and hoping we still have an economy when we get out the other side.  There has been nothing like this before and it is really important that we do try and keep our heads up and our industry working.

To be honest, I really didn’t want to be one of those people who jump on a bandwagon and write about Coronavirus.  However, we are being asked a lot by clients and prospects about what the best thing to do is in this environment.  Stick or twist?  Keep marketing or cut costs and save for the future?  The answer is not simple and will depend on your business, your sector and the combination of channels that you use.

If, for example, you use TV and pay per impression then bear in mind that impressions will be up across the board and the audience will be very different at all times of day than what you would normally expect.  Maybe this is a good time to use the budget differently and test lower volumes of highly targeted TV through Sky Adsmart, All4 or the like?  More people will be on social media but time spent on each post or ad will be a lot shorter.  Maybe focus on direct messaging rather than generic adverts?

One of the questions we are being asked a lot is our view on whether to keep using direct mail.  Again, this is going to be dependent on how mail fits within your overall channel mix but from an audience point of view, with vast majority of the UK population following Government advice and staying at home,  that should mean a dramatic increase in open rates – with people making a point of looking at and engaging with their mail every day.  This can only be good for open rates cut through and conversion. We are already seeing clients not just continue with direct mail but looking to increase volume.  This is also true of door-drops and partially addressed mail.

If you are a charity, for example, key routes to your audience such as events and collections are being restricted, why wouldn’t you use direct mail?  You know it works for your audience and you know you will get a decent response.  And there will be companies who do well out of people being isolated such as food and fast food delivery companies, home entertainment and gaming, on-line shopping and subscription services.  For these companies it is important to compete and be seen.  On-line and digital engagement is vital but why not supplement this with some targeted mail as well?  With millions of people spending the majority (if not all) of their time at home, mail will deliver a welcome distraction and alternative to intensive screen time for consumers and engagement and activation for brands.

Of course, targeting is key, as ever.  Ensuring that you know your audience, can identify them and select them is vital.  That’s where profiling and targeting really matters.  Additionally, using those profiles across multiple media such as email and digital to enhance and provide a halo impact for the mailing will also help deliver success.

I guess one of the concerns on mail is whether it could transfer the virus to the recipient.   Public Health England (PHE) has advised that people receiving letters and parcels are not at risk of contracting the Coronavirus. From our experience of other similar viruses, we know that these types of virus don’t survive long on objects, such as letters or parcels.  This complements the very clear and highly publicised guidance from PHE regarding hand washing more often and more thoroughly than usual using soap and hot water. 

To a greater extent, there is no point in saving for a rainy day, this is the rainy day.  Now is the time to back your brand, make your message stick and mail is a great way to getting in front of your customer or prospects.

At REaD Group we have been supporting brands with direct marketing for 30 years – we’d love to discuss how mail can help you in these challenging circumstances so please get in touch.

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