Pondering on snail mail

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In September, I ventured down to Bristol for Copywriting Club, an occasional get together for copywriters organised by the Direct Marketing Association. On my chair when I arrived were two things. Firstly, a hard copy of Why your copywriter looks sad, a report that I blogged about last year. Secondly, The Private Life of Mail, a piece of market research by Mailmen, a part of Royal Mail I confess I’d hitherto never heard of but which, according to its website, provides expert advice and practical support to help you create and optimise direct mail campaigns.

Now, let’s leave aside for a moment the terrifying sexism of the name (and the fact that their advertising focuses heavily on the people involved so we can see that they’re actually a diverse, gender-balanced group of people, presumably in an attempt to row back from the name) and concentrate on the information the report imparted.

Here are some of the findings in the report:

  • 39% of people have a dedicated display area in their home where they put mail
  • 23% of all mail is shared between people in a household
  • 21% of promotions and special offers are shared
  • Advertising mail is kept in the household on average for 17 days

It seems to me that these figures are ones that email marketing can only dream of (a quick bit of research suggests that the average B2C email open rate is around 20 – 25% with a click-through rate of around 3 – 4%).

Receiving the report was, for me, another example of what seems to me to be a wider growing awareness that old-fashioned direct snail mail is a really effective means of marketing. Yes, it might be more expensive than e-marketing. Yes, it might be more time-consuming. But it works. And while your e-marketing shot might be one of hundreds of emails that a person each receives each day, an old-fashioned paper-based marketing shot may have pride of place on a doormat as the only piece of post someone receives that day.

Food for thought, isn’t it?

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