The Future of…Advertising Mail

The Future of…Advertising Mail

Post is dead, long live the email….postal campaigns are a waste of time….email is king…The next new big thing is just on the horizon…blah, blah, blah….

How many times have we heard this? I would hazard a guess that a few of us have been guilty of saying one or more of these statements at some stage in our career. But is it true? What is the next big thing to grace our marketing plans? Is advertising mail going to eventually die out? If so it will be the longest drawn out death of an advertising medium ever.

The Private Life of Mail research attempted to answer these questions and some of the results might just surprise a few of you.

Over the last 18 months Royal Mail MarketReach undertook a series of research projects to understand exactly how people interact with Mail and also the emotional response to mail. There were 9504 respondents including 213 in neuroscience.

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I can already hear some of you saying “Ah, research by Royal Mail, the results are hardly going to be negative” and the cynic in me would agree…to a certain extent. Royal Mail commissioned this research to reappraise the role of mail within the media mix and assess it’s role in an ever-changing, ever-evolving digital landscape. Can you blame them? Surely we’re all doing the same in whatever role/industry we are in? Society constantly makes the mistake that the ‘new’ media will replace the ‘old’, but as history shows this just isn’t the case.

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So what were the main findings of this research:

  • 39% of people taking part in the research have a dedicated display area in their home where they put mail. I have a pin board with pockets to save those really important pizza menus….plus garden designers, sash window repairers and other future/potentially needed services and products.
  • 23% of all mail is shared within the household.
  • Advertising mail is kept on average for 17 days.
  • People place value on things they can touch, 24% more.
  • 57% of people state that receiving mail makes them feel more valued and 38% say that the physical properties of mail influence how they feel about the sender.
  • 60% of respondents say that the best mail advertising helps keep a brand top of mind.
  • On average respondents spent 22 minutes a day reading mail.
  • 62% of individuals surveyed claimed to reject mail, however 64% opened all mail, with a high percentage reading whilst on the way to the recycling bin saving the odd leaflet as they go.
  • 92% of mail drove individuals to online/digital activity; 54% engaged with social media after reading advertising mail.
  • 27% of 15-34 year olds view mail as novel and would like to receive addressed mail. I found this particularly interesting as this stat shows how the distinct lack of mail in the house has now bred curiosity and a desire to receive something addressed to them personally. And I bet the first choice of advertising to this age range would be online.

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How can this help you?

Mail most definitely has a multiplier effect. With 92% of respondents going online to find out more after reading a piece of mail, marketers need to embrace this and find ways of using this to their advantage. PURL’s (personalised URL – a unique and personalised Landing Page created especially for each recipient of your direct mail campaign) are a fantastic way of delivering marketing communications via a piece of mail but then personalising the online experience for the user.

Think about creating mail that people will want to share and make visible. Give recipients a reason to hold onto it. The power of touch is the most underestimated of all the senses, however Scientists believe that humans are developing a higher sense of touch due to the evolvement of swiping iPhones and iPads. You therefore have the power to engage via touch.

Use data in a clever, segmented, relevant way; make something creative and engaging; make it sharable and you have something very powerful. Use DM to reach people’s heart and mind – people absorb messages in an unconscious way, “Changing the way I feel is key to changing what I do”.

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So what’s next for mail?

The challenge for advertising mail is to create a common currency to measure readership just like other media, rather than relying upon distribution volumes. Marketers need to be able to compare, justify and evaluate responses and engagement with advertising mail effectively and until post has the ability to monitor readership then its value and worth will continue to be questioned.

Is it the end for mail? I don’t think so….I think there will always be the need for all types of advertising. People want to be communicated to in their preferred method so post cannot disappear as for some it is their choice of contact and for some is a new form of communication. I think each form of advertising will have its ups and downs, but this shouldn’t be the primary concern for marketers. The focus should be on how people are changing their interaction with media and how all the different forms of advertising can work together to get the most out of a client’s budget. How can we combine the plethora of advertising options before us to engage our audience and retain their interest? Who reacts to what, when and why? Once marketers understand this we’re a step closer to the Holy Grail of marketing.

And finally…

What IS the next big thing to hit our media plans? Who knows. Something new and exciting will always evolve…thank goodness, however society perhaps needs to think about how history tends to repeat itself and to assume that more traditional forms of advertising are therefore going to cease is dangerous. This short video sums up what we need to remember about the ability to physically hold something in our hands and take our time to absorb the information being provided to us. Enjoy.

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