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Things to consider when choosing your next direct mail agency

Once upon a time before the digital dawn, direct mail was The Big Thing in marketing.

In fact, posting promotional leaflets, offers, sales letters and business brochures through the doors of a targeted audience was the only direct mail option.

Happily, with the advancements that technology affords us, marketing to a specific demographic has been enhanced in a data-driven world with an array of digital analytics tools.

However, whilst the popularity of physical direct mailing was on the wane a while back, it has seen a resurgence of late and is now widely considered a valuable and effective tool by marketers and businesses alike.

It’s an efficient and cost-effective way of reaching both potential and existing customers and remains true to the traditions of old-fashioned advertising – its simplicity often cutting through all the ‘noise’ of online marketing.

This means it can be integrated perfectly into a multimedia strategy or used in a standalone and nicely priced campaign.

Audience relevance is key to getting results, so any direct mail campaign needs to be crafted with well-written copy and eye-catching visuals tailored to ideal customers and then ultimately sent to the right people.

According to various sources, direct mail can improve results of marketing campaigns, with personalisation and the use of full colour boosting response rates.

So, the Old New Big Thing is back and stronger than ever, with direct mail agencies offering it a facelift in the form of response trackability and client feedback.

Experts suggest the attraction to audiences is perhaps found in its old-fashioned appeal and easy-to-share tangible charm – all this in a digital age where everyone is shouting for attention and not everything online is 100% trusted.

‘In the age of fake news, malware and phishing, it may be that a wider, growing unease or “trust fatigue” with digital channels is fuelling the increased consumer desire for the trustworthiness and tangibility of mail’
Source: The Drum Network's consultant journalist Michael Feeley

And, interestingly, the industry experts are taking direct mail seriously, too.

The Joint Industry Committee for Mail (JICMAIL) – made up of the DMA, IPA, ISBA, Whistl and Royal Mail – now provides mail with the same metrics available to other channels i.e. data that can be used by media planners to help map out campaigns.

Insight Engine uses a diary to follow mail over a four-week period, across a sample size of 1,000 UK households.

It can feed back on specific sectors as far reaching as insurance, retail, travel and utilities, delivering information such as:

  • The number of people reached
  • The average number of new or existing customers who saw each item of mail
  • The number of times viewed
  • The average number of days spent in the home

75% of small businesses that use direct mail agree it offers a good return on investment
Source: Royal Mail MarketReach, Smart Marketing for Small Businesses

With new life breathed into this old (and simple) concept, the geographic targeting of direct mail marketing offers something other media cannot – that is, the most accurate approach to delivering something tangible.

So, how best to choose the best direct mail agency that suits your needs? 

‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’
Source: Leonardo Da Vinci 

First of all, enthusiasm for the medium is all. In a world where everyone is competing for online marketing space, the ideal direct mail agency will either dedicate its efforts solely to the cause – or at least has specialists within the team with genuine interest that translates into authentic and creative efficiency that delivers results within a cost-effective campaign.

Its marketers and designers should be able to identify and appeal to customers, creating a tailored approach in order to connect, drive conversions and build relationships – thereby maximising your ROI.

Ask the agency to see examples of how they made any promotions, offers, sales letters or business brochures compelling enough so that they generated the right leads to visit a brand’s website.

How does the agency collect information from potential clients – and ultimately drive them to make online purchases?

What experience does it have in identifying a target audience and creating a relevant customer base?

Does it have experience of using QR codes on the direct mail piece to generate leads and track response rates?

What access to contact lists does it have – we’re talking thousands of targeted potential customers, not hundreds.

Ordinarily, a direct mail agency should be able to offer demo lists, trigger and behavioural lists that are overlaid and tested to optimise sales results.

As well as list expertise, direct mailing also requires experience in postage, data and letter shop services.

Does the agency have experience in multimedia marketing campaigns, too? It takes an experienced agency to know how to integrate marketing strategies in a bid to win and retain more clientele.

What evidence can they share of their efforts to reinvigorate worn-out campaigns? Innovation is as much a part of this traditional form of marketing as it is in a digital world.

Direct marketing comes in many forms and requires creative flair and imagination to break boundaries and reinvent the old concept of ‘junk mail’.

‘The man who has no imagination has no wings’ 
Muhammad Ali

One-to-one personal relationships are essential for any company looking to win over customers who might be a little weary of a digital world jam-packed with advertising.

For those who feel online marketing has reached saturation point, client centricity is key and sending something to someone’s home can feel a lot more intimate than a banner ad.

Trends and capabilities are forever changing and, with it, direct mail has evolved.

However, it takes an exceptional direct mail agency to understand the need to elevate this customer experience by adding a modern twist to this old-fashioned but much-loved tangible touch point.

You got mail! Innovation in your letterbox

  • ‘Money off’ coupons and discount codes
  • Attached free gift
  • 3-D promotional leaflet
  • Glossy paper andhigh quality images