Last week there was debate in our team as to whether direct mail still had a place within today’s marketing mix. One colleague shared a story from a previous role, whereby a teabag and KitKat were sent to prospects in the post to enjoy whilst watching an educational video online. The campaign received mixed results; on the one hand, it stood out and cut through the inbox traffic, on the other the vast majority of the KitKats were returned to the office (in various states of survival) due to problems with the address data.
The marketing list was rubbish and the feeling was one of disappointment, what a waste of time, money and chocolate!
In this digital age, no marketer is as heavily reliant on direct mail communications as days gone by. But for many organisations post still has a vital role to play. A well-timed brochure can mean the difference between someone making a mail order purchase, enrolling on a course, booking a hotel room, receiving reward vouchers – all especially important in the run up to Christmas. In fact accountancy firm PwC predicts that after years of decline, direct mail spend will grow by 2% over the next two years, and with heavy discounts for customers using PAF validated addresses with Royal Mail’s Mailmark system this could be the catalyst to reignite direct mail campaigns once again.
In the UK, Royal Mail shreds 300,000 letters and packages a week due to failed deliveries. Across the Atlantic, the U.S. Postal Service processed more than 155 billion mailpieces in 2014, 6.6 billion of which were undeliverable as addressed (UAA). UAA mail is costly, since it must be forwarded, returned, or treated as waste. The Postal Service spent nearly $1.5 billion handling UAA mail in FY 2014, and the mailing industry incurs about $20 billion in UAA costs annually.
Companies whose direct mail ends up in this pile are not only wasting money on postage, packaging and operational resources; they are also missing out on opportunities to communicate with customers and prospects.
Royal Mail highlights incorrect and outdated addresses as one of the main reasons for post not reaching its intended destination. And with predictions that as we get closer to Christmas, the amount of parcels being sent will ramp up to 10 million parcels a day, you’ll want to make sure your marketing materials arrive at their intended destination.
It therefore makes sense that marketing departments focus on customer address data as a key part of the delivery process.
An easy problem to fix
As a supplier of data validation, it is so frustrating to hear easily preventable wastage is occurring with something as simple as data maintenance. Using an address lookup tool to ensure your customers enter their address accurately, will help you avoid the returned mail pile. For example, our clients who require UK addressing data benefit from daily updates direct from the PAF file (Royal Mail) which includes the most up to date and complete address information including Just Built, Not Yet Built and multi-residency data. We also source world wide data from trusted partners such as USPS, Canada Post and Tom Tom – all of which are perfect for marketing activity and of course ensuring any online/mail-order purchases reach their intended destinations.
And if you want to see your Christmas marketing dreams comes true, it’s worth spending the time to make sure you are collecting accurate customer data – wherever your customers are located.
The outcome of the debate was that we all agreed that direct mail definitely had its place in today’s marketing mix, especially if it used accurate addressing data and of course involved a KitKat and a cuppa.