Consumers welcome the post more now than before COVID-19 Crisis

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A new study by Valassis reveals that people are more excited to receive their mail each day than before the pandemic. People stuck at home appreciate receiving mail, creating an opportunity for brands to increase engagement with their customers who are actively looking to their letterbox for entertainment. In addition, the research reveals that people are now spending longer with their post than previously, taking the time to open, read and digest everything that is delivered to their door. Also, perhaps unsurprisingly, significantly more consumers are now open to promotions, coupons and deals through the letterbox than they were back at the beginning of March.

Direct mail has long been recognised for the benefits that it brings to the marketing mix – for instance the fact that it is tangible and can be closely targeted. However, in recent years, prior to the introduction of GDPR, due to unrestrained data management, the channel suffered a reputation problem being labelled ‘junk’. However, our own research showed that following the new legislation, which recently celebrated its second anniversary, that consumer perception around the increased relevance of the medium was growing. Close to half (45 per cent) said that they thought their direct mail was now better targeted and more relevant. This shows that direct mail is experiencing something of a resurrance.

Clearly there is a very strong link between the reputation of direct mail and targeting. If consumers are flooded with irrelevant offers, they see it as junk and the term ‘junk mail’ is used. However, if they receive mail through the letterbox that they believe is useful, entertaining or interesting to them then perception of the channel rises having a positive effect on ROI. I key example of this is a few months ago (before lockdown) a friend received a cataloge from a garden company promitng their latest lawn mowers and tree pruners. unfortunately, this person lives a third floor flat, with no outside space. Clearly the targeting here was off. However, had the catalogue have been sent to someone with a large garden it probably would have been flicked through with interest. Context with direct mail is everything.

It is clear that brands wishing to capitalise on the improved goodwill towards direct mail must make targeting and data management priority. As tempting as it might be to scattergun a campaign to all opted-in customers, a more considered approach will ultimately pay dividends – and of course it goes without say that suppression is an absolutely must – sending a piece of mail to someone that has passed away would very quickly convert the positive feelings towards the brand and the channel into a negative, potentially brand damaging, mind-set as many brands have discovered. Our research shows that the brand damage caused by sending direct mail to people that have passed away costs close to £500mn a year in unrealised revenue and wasted production costs.Two thirds of people say they would immediately cease trading with that company.

So with a surge in popularity for direct mail – is it time you thought about nadding it you your marketing mix?

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