Om: the art of mindful mailing


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Altogether now – om.

Mindfulness is a mind-body medicine practice, based on ancient Zen Buddhist meditation techniques, that was popularized by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a researcher at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. According to Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is an internal resource that all of us already have within us. The idea is to channel or direct this resource to enhance our lives.

In the largest ever scientific review of its kind into mindfulness The Oxford Mindfulness Centre revealed that Mindfulness reduces depression by 23 per cent.

That’s all great, but what has any of this got to do with mail media?

Quite a lot actually.

Firstly as a result of the label of junk mail, the introduction of GDPR, the advent of digital and a whole host of other contributing factors the direct mail industry is depressed. It has been attacked for years and the constant fight to defend itself can be exhausting. Therefore a dose of mindfulness should go some way to reduce this stress. And whilst this may all sound a bit ‘holistic’ and ‘new age’ the seven core principles of mindfulness: letting go, acceptance, being the best you, objective, patient, having a beginner’s mind and trustfulness, can also be applied to direct mail to make each mailing more considered, therefore making the industry more effective one mailing at a time!

Seven principles of mindful mailing:

The seven principles of mindful mailing are based on the founding pillars of mindfulness and include:

1. Letting go: Direct mail is evolving. It can’t be the mass volume channel it once was. The junk tag is slowly being eroded into non-existence because of better targeting and decreased volumes. Interestingly organisations that are achieving the best ROIs from the media are those that are new to it. This is because they don’t have preconceived ideas of the channel built from the past.

2. Acceptance: Every business needs to accept their opted-in database for what it is. The saying that there is no point crying over spilt milk applies here. Yes, you might have once had a mailing universe that was double the size of the one you have now. But that was then and this is now. Once of the most important elements of mindfulness is living in the moment. Not dwelling on the past or projecting to the future. Accept your database for what it is and provide the best experience to your opted-in customers as possible.

3. Being the best you: To provide the best experience to opted-in customers means that having a data hygiene regime in place is critical. This means screening against preference services, removing people that have passed away or moved house and identifying duplicate records. It ensures that your data is and clean and up to date as possible. Not only is this important for compliance to GDPR, but it results in more relevant, targeted mailings and hence a better overall customer experience.

4. Objective: Objectivity is a core principle of mindful mailing. It ultimately means well targeted. Direct mailers must consider every mailing and whether or not it should be sent to each individual recipient. If it is not relevant it should not be sent. Segmentation is a means to obtain objectivity.

5. Beginners mind: Objectivity provides a good segue into the next principle, having a beginner’s mind. In mailing terms this means that seeing the campaign through fresh eyes. Looking at it from the perspective of the intended recipient. This helps to formulate the content of the mailing and ensure that it is as effective as possible. For instance recently Martin Lewis criticised the HEF forms sent out by local councils to update voting registers. The reason for this is because Martin believes they look like circulars and as a result many end up unopened in the recycling bin. If the envelope was redesigned it is likely that the open rate would increase.

6. Patience: having an appreciation of timeliness is also important in today’s direct marketing world. Consumers do not like to be bombarded. One of the most common complaints about email marketing is the volume of emails sent to individual recipients. The same used to be true of direct mail. Credit card companies were renowned for sending applications to customers in some cases on a weekly basis! The old adage absence makes the heart grow fonder is, in many cases, true so being

mindful about the number of mailings you intend to send to customer should also be a consideration.

7. Trust: Probably the most important principle. The foundation of direct marketing under GDPR is built on trust. Consumers must trust that a brand will respect their data and respect their preferences. This is all about establishing the value exchange. In return for opt-in you will provide relevant mail that adds value – an offer, information, entertainment etc.

By practicing mindful mailing which means letting go of past preconceptions, valuing your data, keeping it clean and up-to-date, segmenting the customer base, being mindful of the content and the frequency of engagement and engendering customer trust will result in more effective mailings for you and a more optimistic, buoyant industry.

Patrick Lymath
Patrick is responsible for the Mortascreen file at Wilmington Millennium. Mortascreen is the market leading deceased suppression product which enables marketers to remove people that have died from their marketing databases, saving the bereaved from the distress of receiving communications to loved ones that have passed away and bolstering marketing ROI.


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