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There so many new channels to choose from to get in touch with customers. Social media represents a whole new way to interact and converse, but, given the brain space it's taking right now, is it doing anything to secure sales - volume sales, asks Amie Peters.

Marketers seem to be living in the land of ‘OR' (as in direct mail or email or something else), switching feverishly from what works to what may or may not. There are lots of choices being made between media, based on perceived cost-savings. However this switch to cheap or free doesn't seem to be working.

We're asking for so much from the consumer: follow me, like me, recommend me, QR code this, enter this competition, respond, and (hopefully) buy. The ‘buy' message is becoming diluted, as is the measurement that tracks campaign success. Soft metrics are getting more airtime such as the number of followers, number of mentions, number of re-tweets, when what really matters is cost per sale, churn, lifetime value, and revenues.

Marketers in the land of ‘OR' forget about what works, what consumers want and like, and what will actually deliver for the business.

Amárach Research 2011

SUB HEADING Integration - Land of AND

I'm not actually suggesting you choose only direct mail for your next campaign. Every medium has its role to play, direct mail included. But integration is key. We, as marketers, need to get to the land of ‘AND'.

Ogilvy ran a campaign that extols this philosophy. They wanted to prove their digital prowess, so they sent a direct mail piece with 3D glasses and linked the recipient to a heart-warming online 3D experience. A perfect combination of media that grabbed the attention of the time-poor client, and won an award along the way. 

SUB HEADING Marketers have returned to Direct Mail

In the past few months we've had great conversations with some of Ireland's marketing leaders. And they're investing in direct mail, they tell us, because they haven't seen the returns from their experiments with other media.

One telco did nothing with direct mail this year but now plans to use direct mail to reward their high-value customers in 2012. Another telco has set up a new base management team that's responsible for focusing on direct mail. Yet another telco is upping their direct mail game in their B2B space (yes we've spoken to a lot of telcos). And a major utility is working on a loyalty initiative where, again, direct mail will play a key role. Good to note that 72% of the most successful companies in Ireland all use direct mail.

Universal Honda is also using direct mail more than ever, this year and into 2012. Frank Kennedy, their sales & marketing director, tells me the reason he uses direct mail is because ‘it's a cost-effective way to communicate a personal message to an existing customer'. He also says ‘that by being creative he can reach an audience who may know little about his brand and make an impact on them'.  I love Frank. And Frank loves results

SUB HEADING 18-35 year olds really like Direct Mail

If there's one mission for my team next year, it's to demonstrate to brands targeting 18-35 year olds that they absolutely must include Direct Mail in their mix. Conventional wisdom would have us believe that this demographic will only engage via digital channels. Well, if you think online is the only way to get their attention, think again:

  • 54% of 18 to 25 year olds say ‘When I have a catalogue while shopping online I often see additional items I would like to buy' (they buy more)
  • 56% believe it is It's easier to shop online with a catalogue in hand
  • 62% say that they are far more likely to use a voucher sent to them in the post rather than via email.

For those who believe direct mail is ‘old fashioned', this is the 2012 insight that will boost your sales and move you ahead of your competition. I bet you €50 it works (call me).

SUB HEADING Keep it simple

Of course we're all trying new and different combinations of media. That's OK. Testing is one of the core principles of direct marketing. But let's keep marketing simple, and keep our eye on the prize. Daniele Fiandaca, the keynote speaker at the MII Conference, suggested brands set aside 10% of their budget to test unproven and emerging channels. I think that's sound advice. It keeps focus on the business results needed today and allows the scope to try new things. And that's what direct marketing is about - deliver today, learn for tomorrow.

Amie Peters is Head of Direct Mail at An Post.

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First published in Irish Marketing Journal (December/January, 2011-12)© to order back issues please call 01 6611660.    


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