New study from WARC and Royal Mail Marketreach reveals how direct mail is undergoing a renaissance as we emerge from the pandemic

WARC, the global authority on marketing intelligence, unveiled today the results of a study developed in association with Royal Mail Marketreach, the marketing authority on commercial mail, to take a fresh look at what direct mail can offer as we emerge from the pandemic.

“Driving Effectiveness with Direct Mail” highlights how the impact of the pandemic combined with an accelerated digital transformation and unprecedented changes in consumer media consumption habits have reinvented the role of direct mail in marketing strategies. 

The study is based on an analysis of 218 UK award-winning campaigns for effectiveness that used direct mail as the lead media or in the media mix, published between 2016 and 2020 on WARC’s case study database, as well as a review of WARC’s global data, industry knowledge and data from JICMAIL, IPA TouchPoints and YouGov.

WARC’s Amy Rodgers, Managing Editor, Research, says: “The digital disruption of the past decade has pushed direct mail into the shadow of emerging platforms. But the time has come for a re-evaluation of direct mail amid increasing demands on consumer attention and the acceleration of underlying trends in business and society driven by the pandemic. With this research showing that campaigns using direct mail drive a notable impact on effectiveness metrics like ROI and revenue, the events of the past 18 months have shone a light on the potential for the channel.”

Dan Jury, Senior Media Planner, Royal Mail Marketreach, comments: “This case study-led reassessment of the Direct Mail channel has revealed some fascinating insights into why mail remains a highly effective marketing solution for building business performance. Indeed, 70% of consumers have been driven to an online activity by direct mail, and 35% of campaigns that use direct mail in the mix recorded an ROI benefit, compared to just 23% for the UK average. 

“From building brands, cutting through the clutter and eliciting a direct response, to nurturing powerful connections with customers and amplifying digital channels in the mix – it’s clear mail delivers effective business outcomes in a variety of ways, across a variety of categories to engage all audiences.”

Key takeaways that outline how mail should be reconsidered to drive ROI and sustained growth are:

1. Mail can act as a real differentiator in marketing campaigns, driving clear growth for brands that invest

A background channel in the peak of digital revolution, direct mail is being reappraised by marketers. Its physical presence in consumers’ homes, combined with digital integration, is driving share of voice and return on investment for brands across categories.

2. Direct mail can be highly personalised and targeted, capturing attention for longer than digital channels

The physical nature of direct mail means it captures both sensory and mental attention, with an average engagement rate of 95%. Attention and interaction are driven further the more mail is personalised, particularly resonating with Gen Z, who have grown up with digital messaging and for whom mail presents something unique.

3. Direct mail delivers on both brand and performance goals

Inclusion of mail in a campaign drives higher acquisition rates, particularly when highly targeted, making it suited to delivering on performance objectives. But the medium also plays a powerful role in retention; 70% of customers feel valued when receiving mail. As brands look at strategies to retain customers acquired during the COVID-19 pandemic, mail can be an effective tool in driving up their customer lifetime value.

4. Mail remains one of the most measurable channels

With the right mechanics for tracking in place, the impact of mail on the customer journey can be clearly measured. With the demise of the cookie, mail is presenting marketers with new ways to track performance, particularly with innovations in technology driving engagement and participation. 

Summing up, Royal Mail Marketreach’s Dan Jury said: “Direct mail is alive and well. It has undergone significant digital transformation of its own, remains the third largest media channel in the UK, integrates powerfully with other channels to support full-funnel strategies, is a proven driver of business growth & ROI, and is highly trusted – particularly with Gen Z.”

A complimentary copy of the report, which includes chapter analysis on using direct mail in the media mix, ROI, attention, personalisation, gaining and retaining customers, metrics, and what all this means for advertisers and agencies, is available to download here

A deep-dive into the findings from the report will be presented at a free-to-attend WARC and Royal Mail Marketreach webinar on 20 October with guest speaker Nigel Edginton-Amor of Sky UK, and separately with Sue Unerman of MediaCom at EffWorks Global.

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