This article will examine customer attitudes toward unsolicited direct mail (postal) marketing. Most marketers give little (if any) attention to the philosophy of customers during their direct mail campaign, and this failure to notice can be highly costly and return little reward.
Therefore, the aim here is to provide the reader with enough understanding to make practical application enough to return higher investment and make direct marketing a driving force in their marketing campaign.
The 2020 pandemic has been an immense influence on how customers perceive and react to direct mail. Due to this, it has become necessary for companies to acknowledge this chance and adapt their campaign to better suit the customers’ needs.
Post-pandemic businesses planning unsolicited direct mail campaigns must first consider segmenting customers into their different attitude focus groups and then target using appropriated direct mail.
Significant findings had now indicated that post-pandemic customers focus far more on direct mail itself, compared to their view before, which was a broad general view of personal selling and advertising.
For marketers to achieve growth with direct mail (postal) marketing, they must adopt different strategies for each customer attitude segment and heavily reassure trust and control. The recent change in the way customers view direct mail can work to the marketers’ advantage when successful strategies are implemented to cut costs and improve relations.
Defining And Segmenting Customer Attitude Towards Direct Mail Marketing
Recently direct mail marketing has shown significant progress in helping to increase sales. The UK has shown to have one of the fastest direct mail marketing growth rates in Europe.
B2B list providers and direct mail marketing agencies all point to a fast-moving industry. Marketers are now using bespoke targeting strategies to provide control and a sense of trust to the customers.
The initial problem with direct mail marketing is controlling the cost. The safe assumption many marketers adopt involves only mailing existing or subscribed customers, which is beneficial to some extent. However, it is based on the underlying assumption that customers want to be involved beyond the purchase.
Direct mail marketing is recommended to be effective in acquiring new customers, as many marketers will agree. To increase response rates and strengthen relationships, your campaign must focus on the context of control and trust.
The recipient must feel that your organization will ‘take care of any issues relating to control and that the organization will behave in a way that will instill customer trust.
Understanding customers’ attitude towards direct mail is central to what type of media is sent, timing, and response. It is vital to understand further the segments that can be derived from customer attitudes.
Customers Can Be Divided Into Four Groups Defined As:
- Active Enjoyer – Actively enjoy getting direct mail and making various purchases via this medium. Usually unaware of the data process, their need for privacy is limited. They regard direct mail to be beneficial and convenient. They feel they are in control of the process and that the organization would protect their details.
- Active Enjoyer Strategy – Active enjoyers need a continuous supply and ongoing response from the mail sender. Encourage their purchase habit with similar and varied direct mail. Make them feel a strong sense of relationship with the brand by being personal in offers and response.
- Passive Conformists – Direct mail is irrelevant to them, so rarely is it read. They perceived direct mail to be part of everyday life, and marketing communication is to some extent necessary. Their purchasing habit is infrequent yet constant.
- Passive Conformists Strategy – Passive conformists need to be targeted with relevance, timeliness, appropriateness and accuracy. You need to catch their attention without focusing too much on privacy. Timing is important once you identify a need.
- Hard Core Resister – This individual is very emotional, expressive and will influence others with their feelings. They will consistently use the word “hate” when discussing direct mail and never use it under any circumstance.
- Hard Core Resister Strategy – Beliefs held by resistors are mostly based on trust and control. They will need to be constantly reassured of being in control and their data is in good hands. Written down proof of your intentions is vital for them to see. Focus your direct mail efforts only on reassuring them.
- Indifferent Switcher – Someone who will change their mind often. They realize and accept the benefits of direct mail. However, they hold no loyalty to any particular brand or organization. They are more aware and primarily interested in specialist products to fulfill their needs when it suits them.
- Indifferent Switcher Strategy – Targeted direct mail to indifferent switchers cannot be general and vague. The literature must focus on specialist products and special occasions. Look to be a convenient source of purchase for them. They care little about the intrusion of direct mail however, their need for privacy is high.
The Post Pandemic Age Brings Opportunities To Direct Mail Marketers
Direct mail marketing appeared not so invasive compared to personal face-to-face selling, which can be significantly distressing and intrusive to individuals and businesses. Many customers prefer to be mailed rather than a phone call or a visit.
The new way of life of working from home and having less social contact with family, friends, and colleagues means customers have become more aware of what comes through their post box. Many businesses have taken up the practice of only going into the office to perform essential tasks, including post sorting.
The outcome suggests a change in the attitude of businesses and individuals. The being targeted post-pandemic generation seems to discriminate more compared to how they perceived direct mail before. They are more attentive to what comes through the post and, in many cases, develop and discuss their opinion.
To take advantage of direct mail coming into the spotlight, marketers are now highly engaged in positive strategies to win over customers by becoming more sophisticated. More emphasis is given to correctly identifying the target audience (as discussed), better design, timely mail packs, better control, trust, and better handling hostile attitudes with follow-up emails and phone calls.
The industry has reported that companies engaging in direct mail have shifted more of their marketing budget to use the opportunities. A high budget means better cost-cutting strategies have been implemented. Identifying and targeting customer attitudes towards direct mail is one of the best ways to reduce cost; the other is sending ‘legitimate interest’ literature.
Why direct mail marketing is far from dead;
Evaluating The Effectiveness Of Direct Mail Packs
Mail packs have only recently started to receive attention from marketers. Previously it was seen to be a costly venture yielding low returns with new customers. However, within B2B marketing, mail packs are valuable due to witnessing increases in return than before.
Observations have shown businesses that the offer’s timing and the mail pack features highly influence the customers’ willingness to respond. Also, sending a reminder increases the response rate by 50%.
A not-so-obvious way to increase the response rate is to offer different ways to respond. Email address, website, and even a QR code with a direct link to a contact form are excellent options for a customer to react from a mail pack.
That Which Influences The Success Of Mail Campaigns:
- Presenting different ways to response
- Product characteristics
- Mail pack characteristics
Direct mail pack campaigns need to be targeted as the first step. The variations of each of the four influences will highly depend on the groups being targeted.
As a costly measure in the short term, it is recommended to measure the effects of the mail pack characteristics and then adapt accordingly. The impact of mail packs can be considered in three levels:
- The general level – Higher response with mail pack A compared to mail pack B.
- Effects of mail packs among different groups.
- Effectiveness of mail pack characteristics among those groups.
The development of mail packs is considered a creative process by experienced marketers, and this process needs to be influenced by marketers’ intuition and effectiveness data. Creativity in the mail pack design is essential, and campaign managers must be attentive to it.
The effectiveness of this creative process can be tested at a high cost. The price will be far too high for smaller companies, and engaging in any campaign without due diligence will undoubtedly lead to higher losses.
It is essential to find effective combinations of mail pack characteristics at a ‘general level.’ By looking at the data, you’ll find it quite simple to find the best combinations of mail pack characteristics. Variations can be made of the color of the envelope, the type of gift, and options in the recipient’s response.
Do not take the financial risk of sending suboptimal mail packs over a long period. Many businesses will tell you that mail packs don’t work and the return is not enough. However, when you look closer, you’ll find for sure that corners were cut and the correct evaluation was not done.
This article supports the assertion that customers can be segmented into their target groups based upon their attitude towards direct mail and mail packs to gain a higher financial return.
It can be concluded that companies engaged in direct mail must manage customers’ negative attitudes on different levels. They also need to constantly self-assess to make sure to avoid strengthening negative attitudes.
The marketer needs to be actively involved in the design process and develop strategic marketing plans that highlight clear distinctions, customer control, privacy, and intrusion concerns. Take the fears away from privacy and towards giving customers the feeling of control and trust.
As recently customers are starting to distinguish more between direct mail and advertising and personal selling. This brings marketers opportunities to take advantage to increase sales and a greater response rate.
Problems can arise with marketers assuming that customers want to be involved with the brand or organization beyond the purchase. This is not the case in many cases, and far too much money is wasted on focusing on existing customers alone.
A direct marketing strategy must involve targeting new customers and reaching out to cold leads. With the correct method, sending targeted cold direct mail will increase higher than expected response and purchase rates, giving businesses a contingency with the new generation.