January 26, 2011

Direct mail isn’t dead – long live Variable Digital Print

3 minute read

Online communication seems to get all the column inches at the moment while direct mail hardly gets a look in. But there’s been a quiet revolution taking place in print that makes it as valid today as it’s ever been, if not more relevant in this increasingly technologically driven world.

Whilst email has been hailed as the solution to serve dynamically tailored content to people straight to the heart of their lives through their inbox – spare a thought for direct mail and in particular variable digital print. Mail produced this way is equally versatile in terms of creating highly tailored messages with literally thousands of variables, both images and text available for each mailing.

Here’s some of the key benefits of digital print:

  • Channel preference
    The marketing industry has got better at asking people how they want to be communicated with and offering the choice of on or offline communications. However, we see time and time again that offline communications get a better reaction even if the customer said they wanted email.
  • Return on investment
    Yes it costs us more to print and mail than to broadcast but we still see that mail can generate a better return on investment. The response rates and direct action taken from a mailing more than compensates for the extra cost. People may say they want email but it is still so much easier to ignore somehow than something landing on the door mat.
  • On and offline behaviour
    People have their own ways of organising their mail. There’s a place for things you want to keep, not only statements but also things you’ve requested or like; these can then be reviewed later. But there are very different ways for getting through email. Let’s face it, it’s so easy to highlight what you don’t need now and click delete.
  • Who likes mail
    Direct mail has become a relatively expensive medium so targeting becomes even more important. With the use of variable digital print a mailing can become very personal and with the decreased volume comes higher cut-through – how does this compare with your inbox?A significant group of mail order customers prefer their information by mail (51%), with only 21% favouring email.A staggering 82% of 25-34 year olds have used a voucher or coupon after receiving direct mail in the last year (so this is not just confined to the old). In fact there’s strong evidence to suggest that young people value personalised mail even more as they are largely neglected through this channel.
  • Environmentally sound
    And variable digital print can claim some environmentally friendly credentials as well. It’s paper-saving, you print only what you need. It’s white paper in and personalised coloured mailing out.IKEA for example would mail the engaged customers with a highly tailored variable digital mailing piece, tailored to their lifestyle, previous purchasing behaviour and much more. But to the less engaged the additional cost was not worthwhile.
  • Mail generates actions
    We keep mail and we act on it later, in a way that we don’t with our inboxes (even though often the information is only a click away). But we can use email to remind or enhance the message that has been kept.
    • 51% of AB adults have looked for information on the internet after receiving mail.
    • 40% of men have visited a store after receiving mail in the past 12 months.
    How many could claim these sorts of results for email when most are lucky to get more than 30% open rates (and that’s a pretty good result).

If you want to know more about how to harness the benefits of digital print speak to our resident expert
Robin Presky on 0207 4201407

Posted by Ikano Insight


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Direct mail isn’t dead – long live Variable Digital Print