Ten years ago, it was simpler for marketers to choose the right channels for reaching consumers. Advertising was limited to direct mailing, phone calls, TV and radio commercials, printed media and displays. These days, consumers process over 3,000 brand impressions a day. It’s becoming more difficult for organizations to attract the attention of the consumer, be it online or offline.1
Today’s consumer demands more
Increased digitization has led to a rise in consumer expectations. They want to be able to interact with a brand, wherever they may be. No fewer than 58% of millennials say they expect to be able to communicate with companies at any given moment and to do so via the channel of their choice.
Consumers also assume that communication will follow a consistent approach across the different channels. Given that these customers have found a way to smoothly combine online and offline channels, marketers should aim to follow suit.2
Furthermore, consumers today want to be addressed personally with relevant information. The use of data and analytics can help in this. For example, 52% of well-performing businesses claim to use data and analytics to improve their marketing, while only 35 of the less well-performing businesses do this.3
Direct mailing remains important
Though online channels are rising in prominence, the impact of direct mailing cannot be underestimated. Research shows that 79% of consumers respond to direct mailing, while only 45% undertake action upon receiving an email. The effective response rate to direct mailing is between 10 and 30 times higher than with email marketing. Consumers also have more trust in their ‘real’ mailbox as opposed to their email inbox. Sending emails is ‘cheap’, making it more likely that communication is less targeted, which is not appreciated by the customer.4
Digital printing technologies are also becoming increasingly more advanced, facilitating data-driven personalization. Variable Data Printing, for example, uses triggers based on consumer data and segmentation to determine what the message should be and which creative tools should be used.5 By using digital technologies based in the offline world, direct mailing remains relevant today and stands to offer marketing and sales departments real added value.
It is more likely that offline and online marketing will complement one another in the future, rather than one channel outcompeting the other. Direct mailing can also elicit a response online; 44% of consumers visit the website of the communicating organization after receiving direct mail.6
Direct mailing can provide a welcome change for the consumer among the many online messages. If organizations want to reach the modern customer, a hybrid, cross-channel approach to communication — whereby the same personal and relevant message is communicated — can be very effective. The more channels that are adopted, the greater the chance of success.7
1 Chasing the Dynamic Consumer. Gannett. May 2014.
5 Direct mail is Competing in a Digital World. Guest blog post for Ricoh, Neil Falconer, March 2014.
6 Direct mail is Competing in a Digital World. Guest blog post for Ricoh, Neil Falconer, March 2014.