August 19th 2013

Is It Time To Take Another Look At Your Mailbox?

In this age of tweets, blogsemails and updates one would imagine marketing is all about going digital. And to an extent, it is. But given the huge focus on digital, we thought it would be a good idea to shine a light on a channel that hasn’t been in the spotlight. We’re of course talking about direct mail (the kind that the postman puts in your mailbox, remember?). But isn’t direct mail dead you ask? Well, we don’t blame you for thinking that, but you would be wrong. As long as we continue walking up to our mailbox and collecting our mail, direct mail as a channel will be alive.

As marketers then, the question we need to ask is: Is it effective? Thanks to Australia Post, we have a few answers to that question. The latest Australia Post Consumer Survey Mail Findings (May 2013) throws up some surprising figures. Based on a sample of 1000 Australians across age, gender and location demographics, the Survey reports that 82% of people check their mail everyday. More importantly, Australian households read 73% of the addressed mail they receive. Combine the figures and what you have is not just an impressive reach, but a high readership for personalised mail as well.

A key question that needs to be asked here is, just who is reading the mail and are they part of my Target Audience? One of the key demographics for most brands is the 18-29 year olds and here Direct Mail scores almost as well. Of the addressed mail they receive, young people tend to read almost 70%, with their favourites being mail from fashion stores, real estate companies, the government and local service providers. Given how little young people read in general you’ve got to say that’s an impressive figure.

The next interesting statistic is the average engagement time with mail. In other words, what level of interaction can you achieve with direct mail? The answer, on average, is about 3 minutes, with the time dropping to about 2 minutes for people under 30 years. Considering media fragmentation and the multiscreen phenomenon, this level of engagement with a single channel is pretty high.

One of the big benefits of direct mail has always been its shelf value. In general we tend to hold on to physical mail a lot longer than other forms of communication like emails. On this yardstick, the numbers show that over 50% of people (58% to be precise) store their mail for later reference. Indicating that we still place a pretty high level of importance on mail. It’s also in line with the general belief that direct mail allows people to choose the time they want to engage, which in theory should make them more receptive to its message.

While these are impressive numbers, there is one last figure that, to us at least, sums up where direct mail stands in today’s crowded media market. And whether it can hold its own in the future.

In response to a the query about how people would like to receive marketing and promotional content, a majority of young people chose both direct mail and email. This clearly indicates that what people really want is choice. Choice in how they receive your message, and choice in how they engage and respond to it.

Crucially for direct mail, this also shows is that the advent of digital marketing hasn’t spelt the end of direct mail. What digital has done is give consumers another way to interact with brands, but not necessarily at the cost of direct mail.

So if you’re looking at your marketing mix, and haven’t considered direct mail, then based on the above you should give it a good look. On the other hand if you’ve saturated your digital marketing channels and are looking at new ways to reach your market, then the good old direct mail piece may be just what you need.

Either way, it’s a good time to take another look at your mailbox. Who knows, you might just find a free gift waiting there for you.

Source: Australia Post Consumer Survey Mail Findings

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