It was very interesting to read the results of some recent research carried out by GI Insight that shows that direct mail remains a powerful tool for driving online traffic.

All too often online businesses stick to just digital marketing tools rather than embracing all the direct marketing tools that are available to them. Using direct mail in conjunction with digital techniques enables businesses to reach out to a far larger proportion of their target audience than can be reached by digital techniques alone.

This is something our customers are reaping the benefit of with our help. Not only here in the UK, but even more so in the rest of Europe, where direct mail is still the most effective marketing channel.

The research has shown that 52% of UK consumers declare they receive most of the promotions and special offers that they redeem in-store and online through the post. So, despite many companies moving towards greater use of email and other digital channels, this shows that direct mail is still a highly important marketing tool and further endorses our belief that integrated marketing is the most successful approach. With the caveat that this needs to be underpinned by strong data analytics, customer segmentation and good data quality.

We find that one of the key benefits of direct mail is the fact that it has a permanency that allows for communication to be kept and re-read at any time and any place the recipient wants to and it was good to see that our view is reinforced by the results of the research.

*    47% of UK consumers say ‘more often than not’ they are prompted to check out a website by something they have received in the post.

*    43% of respondents also say direct mail items they keep around the home act as reminders to visit the sender’s shop (physical or online) when they have the time to do so.

The study also shows that just over a third (34%) of respondents declare that most of the direct marketing they receive, notice and take action on comes through the post, and 33 per cent say they are more responsive to email-only communications – leaving another third who are not driven solely by marketing activity across a single channel, but are more likely to take action if they receive a combination of post and email communications.

A lot of people take the view that young people who have grown up in a digital age would naturally respond only to digital communications, but surprisingly research has shown that 53% of digitally savvy 18 to 24-year-olds say they most often go to check out a website because of something they have received in the post – while fewer than half of all other consumers do so.

The technique of using reminders either by sending a follow up e-mail to a direct mail piece can add significant uplift to response based on using direct mail alone. The combined effect also works when direct mail follows an initial e-mail communication with the research showing that 35% of consumers saying that if they receive a notice through the post that is backed by a subsequent email, they are more likely to take action.

STB believe that success in direct marketing is also underpinned by a good knowledge and understanding of your customers. This would include amongst other key factors knowing their preferred channel of communication, but more importantly knowing the channel that drives their response and maximizing that opportunity.