Customer acquisition
- why direct mail still delivers.
by Nick Pryke

Reaching new customers is a major challenge for businesses in todays’ challenging business landscape. Prospects are exposed to thousands of marketing messages every day and GDPR data privacy levels are a concern to many marketers. It is now proving hard to get your brand in front of new prospects in order to grow your business. But are you overlooking how the use of direct mail can boost your customer acquisition and deliver a strong ROI?

bitmap187% find messages delivered by mail as believable, compared to 48% for email.*

Boost your customer acquisition with direct mail.

One of the main customer acquisition challenges facing businesses today is the number of marketing messages with consumers being bombard with as many as 5,000 adverts a day – this has increased 10 fold since the 70s, making it hard to get your message through and leading to a loss of trust in brands. Consumer trust has decreased with 55% of consumers saying they don’t trust companies they buy from as much as they used to. This is where direct mail marketing is bucking the trend – with smart targeting you can still get your message directly into the hands of your prospects, unlike another media. Receipt of physical items are more trusted, believable and more likely to promote action.

bitmap1Mail has a 90% customer engagement rate* and 38% bought something after receiving mail.

The physical and tactile nature of direct mail grabs attention, by putting your brand directly into their hands means customers remember. Mail has a 90% customer engagement rate and as a result of receiving mail, 38% of consumers bought or ordered products or services.

After over a decade or more of digital dominance, many people had fallen out of love with direct mail, and many of the new generation of marketers having grown up in a digital world, have probably never considered direct mail as part of their marketing strategy. Although direct mail is more expensive than digital marketing it is proven to be far more cost effective, and when combined with digital campaigns as part of a multi-media strategy the results are even stronger. As the saying goes ‘you buy cheap, you buy twice’.

Innovations with clever use of targeting are boosting its effectiveness and with JICmail quantifying the actions taken when receiving advertising mail, it is clear that direct mail is not only surviving but beginning to thrive.

There is no denying that there has been a decline in the use of direct mail as part of the marketing arsenal – a Royal Mail report earlier in the year forecasted a short term continuation of the decline until 2020, due to the economic uncertainty and the impact of GDPR. But the report also says that from 2020 onwards initiatives such as Partially Addressed Mail and JICmail quantification of its effectiveness will boost the market.

GDPR opportunities.

Post-GDPR brands that are returning to direct mail as part of their marketing campaign are finding higher response levels due to improved data quality. GDPR had a cleansing effect on the supply of third party data, the upside being improved response. The other good news for the channel is the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has confirmed brands do not need consent for postal marketing if they can use legitimate interest.

In many ways GDPR was a necessary step for the industry with the growing use of personal data requiring greater regulation. With high profile cases of data breaches in the press it is hardly surprising that consumers are feeling reluctant to hand over their personal data. The opportunity coming from GDPR is that by doing the right thing businesses have the chance to rebuild of trust that many consumers have lost during the digitally dominated marketing era.

Post-GDPR you may have seen your prospect and customer numbers go down, but if you’ve been transparent about collecting customers personal data and let them know what you are using it for, you should see the quality of your database go up.

Direct Mail adds a boost to omni-channel acquisition strategy.

Since the launch of JICmail in January 2018 as the first ever industry-wide audience standard for direct mail, it is now possible to have a comparison on a like for like basis to television, radio, outdoor and press. They’ve revealed the hidden patterns of exposure and commercial interactions with mail across a typical month after analysing thousands of mail items over the course of a year, this allows us to unpick exactly what people are doing with individual campaigns, the commercial outcomes that we can see as a result, and the content that drives those commercial outcomes.

The ability to appraise direct mail against other media has led to a renewed interest in direct mail which is welcomed in the industry. The mood is optimistic as direct mail is benefiting from a reappraisal of the media mix and a need for more transparency in marketing and advertising. Royal Mail MarketReach are putting new standards in place for how mail works and have good incentives for mail users. They recommend that brands should always look at the price per impression because mail is passed on unlikely any othe media.

Brands are getting a better understanding of consumer attitudes to direct mail, Marketers have more knowledge of how people value well-crafted mail containing relevant information.


It is fair to say that the longer items hang around, the more committed [commercial] actions are taken. On day one, over two thirds are read, if they hang around for a week then 47% of them are discussed with someone else, if they hang around for a couple of weeks they start to drive people online (22%), if they hang around for three weeks they might prompt a store visit, and if they hang around for the full 28 days, 6% are being used to plan for a large purchase.

What this shows is that direct mail advertising is getting put on the sideboard, pinned to a noticeboard in the kitchen, or left on a desk for later. It is AIDA in action, Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action.

The latest data has revealed that 69% of all direct mail is opened, 67% of it is read or looked at immediately and 27% is put on display, in the usual place and looked at later in the month, while 63% of all door drops are looked at.* These are numbers that even the biggest digital devotees will find hard to ignore in a world where digital cut-through is increasingly harder to come by.

New SMART way to target new customers.

Along with the renewed awareness of how effective direct mail marketing can be when used as part of the customer acquisition strategy, there is also a new product the Royal Mail has launched Partially Addressed Mail.  Admittedly the name makes it sound like part of the address is missing, so how would it get delivered I hear you say! Although misleadingly named the product provides a useful tool to target new customers without requiring their personal data. Instead of being addressed to a named individual the advertising mail is addressed to the ‘householder’, or if you want to be a little more creative things such as ‘Pet lover’, ‘Kitchen Wiz’, or ‘New home owner’.

With the fines for data breaches since the introduction of GDPR many have abandoned their prospect databases through fear of non-compliance, Partially Addressed offers a compliant way to contact potential customers. It is also highly effective, offering a good ROI.

bitmap188% of Partially Addressed Mail is opened, read or set aside for later.*

Partially Addressed Mail (PAM) allows you to target small groups of around 15 carefully selected households, through either ‘topping up’ people in postcode areas where you already have customers or finding ‘look-a-likes’ in new postcode areas identified as similar to those where your current customers live.

PAM is therefore ideal for achieving targeted reach in specific locations, particularly when combined with other channels. Best of all it reaches 30% more households than a named individual mailing for the same budget, improving your ROI with a saving of 4p per item mailed.

We took part in a trial of PAM with one of our clients McCarthy and Stone, take a look at the case study.

bitmap194% engagement rate with addressed mail.

Direct mail is proven to complement and reinforces out of home and digital messages within customers’ homes, with high levels of engagement. For geographic targeting it provides the most accurate approach and can deliver something tangible and tactile which other forms of media cannot.


*JICmail Q2 2017-Q1 2019

Nick Pryke
Nick PrykeChief Operating Officer
Nick is responsible for keeping our print and mail operation ‘squeaky green’. Ensuring that our client campaigns are delivered in full and on time every time. With a passion for sustainability he will try to recycle anything that’s not bolted down!

Get in touch with Nick:

Nick Pryke
Nick PrykeChief Operating Officer
Nick is responsible for keeping our print and mail operation ‘squeaky green’. Ensuring that our client campaigns are delivered in full and on time every time. With a passion for sustainability he will try to recycle anything that’s not bolted down!

Get in touch with Nick:

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