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Integrating direct mail with digital media


It’s safe to say that the internet and other digital channels like email and SMS have been instrumental in driving the communications revolution we’re currently experiencing. For marketers, these new channels present yet another route to customers and have increasingly been part of a brand's overall marketing and communications strategy.

Indeed, the last few years have seen a continued increase in the portion of marketers’ budgets being spent on digital marketing; with online ad spend growing at a rate far exceeding any other discipline. Whilst this willingness to embrace digital channels is a positive one, it shouldn’t happen at the detriment of other proven marketing successes.

In some cases, brands may be short-sighted in the extent to which they ignore more traditional channels and methods in favour of a totally digital approach. We must remember that digital is most useful when coupled with the physical world.

Certain demographic groups may not respond well to digital forms of marketing, or the popularity of email marketing by rival brands may make it difficult to achieve cut though with consumers whose inboxes become congested by too many digital messages.

Instead an integrated approach, which draws on a range of marketing disciplines in unison, should be the way forward. Marketers have used the word ‘integrated’ for many years, but in order to prove how this approach should be more than just a buzz word, Royal Mail undertook a research programme which has revealed consumer attitudes to marketing which uses a combination of digital elements, and more traditional channels like direct mail.

The study revealed that simply by using a combination of digital channels and direct mail, brands can increase customer spend by up to a quarter. More than half of confident web users (55 per cent) prefer to be contacted by a combination of direct mail and digital. In addition, nearly three times as many web users think direct mail is more personal than online communications and 50 per cent more said it was more professional.

In a crowded media environment, trust is a crucial element, and direct mail remains a known and trusted medium for many consumers. Nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of consumers confessed that they often ignored emails due to the huge amount of spam they receive, with over half of respondents believing that direct mail creates a better impression of a company than email — stark warnings to those brands that favour wholly digital executions over an integrated approach. Yet despite this, a considerable majority (84 per cent) believe there is a place for both digital and direct mail in the current marketing environment.

The fact that the strongest statistics point to a combination of direct mail and digital activity demonstrates the need for brands to embrace a wide array of marketing channels in combination. The cut through of one can be complemented by the personalisation offered by another; the benefits of each working together to achieve greater marketing success.

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