Is mail just for Christmas

Is mail just for Christmas?

Senior Account Director, Louise Harris, makes the case for how mail can be for life, not just for Christmas.

In any given year, Royal Mail delivers up to 14 billion letters to 29 million addresses nationwide: the sheer volume of communication taking place through letterboxes and on doorsteps is staggering. Yet, despite those figures, Royal Mail Group reported a 6% decline in volumes affecting its core business – delivering letters for personal, business and advertising use – in 2017. Predictably, Christmas bucked that trend, but with the major digital shift continuing across personal and professional life – coupled with uncertainty around Brexit and new, stricter General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) – some have asked whether the UK advertising mail industry is at risk of being stamped out.

Freshwater is a full service agency, and totally integrated. I was taught from day one that the best way to attract, persuade, or promote was through multiple-channels. Our teams specialise in all forms of owned, earned and paid-for communication and we work together to combine that expertise into hard-hitting campaigns that deliver for our clients. We’re not “just” a PR agency, or a digital agency, or a public affairs agency or an event management specialist – we’re all of those things, and more. That means we don’t, and absolutely won’t, apply bias to one channel of communication over another. We see value in variety, and have the experience to advise our clients on the best approach.

For me, there’s always been something charming about print and it seems I’m not the only one: research undertaken by Royal Mail MarketReach found that 65% of UK consumers are likely to give a piece of mail their full attention, compared to just 35% for email. Seventy per cent of consumers say that direct mail (DM) makes them feel valued, and a further 70% say that mail makes them think better of the company who sends it. At a time when ‘fake news’ and post-truths hit reputations hard, could outputs from the humble Post Office rise up the marketing ranks once more?

It would be remiss of me to advocate direct mail and other print campaigns, such as door-to-door mailings, as being a ‘one size, fits all’ magic-marketing-bullet – they aren’t. However, in the right context, supported by a robust strategy, proper planning and slick execution, direct mail can seriously deliver (up to a 12% increase in ROI, says Royal Mail).

Equally remiss would be to write off direct marketing as out-dated, old hat or ineffective. Mail campaigns are proven to reach people from all walks of life, and not just at Christmas.

If you do resolve to adopt direct mail as part of your marketing mix in 2018, my one ask is that you do so in an environmentally friendly way. The sustainability of DM rests on more than just increasing the volume of campaigns hitting the doorsteps, and there are a host of ways to ensure your DM campaign activity is as green as possible.

Environmentally friendly direct mail tips:

  • Ask your end users to recycle the non-retainable elements of the campaign after use. Use graphics and information to signpost which elements are recyclable.
  • Consign plastic outers or bags to the scrap heap. Please, please, please can these be left in 2017? Unsightly, of zero use to the end user and more often than not unnecessary, they also add more plastic to landfills and the ocean.
  • Choose chemical-free or recycled paper (there are even types of paper which include seeds in them and can be planted after use – giving even more ‘life’ to your campaign).
  • Check whether eco-friendly inks are suitable for your campaign. Many printers now offer vegetable-based inks alongside traditional petroleum-based ones.
  • Streamline formats to reduce the need for envelopes. For example, self-mailers or postcards both minimise paper usage and can look impressive.
  • Reduce the sheets in your direct mail by printing on both sides.
  • Choose return mechanics that don’t need extra envelopes or, if they must, use window-free envelopes which are more easily recycled than those with plastic address fields.
  • Replace lengthy URLs with QR codes or truncated URLs when integrating print campaigns into your digital communications to save valuable space and paper.
  • Cleanse your data in advance to ensure you only print what you need. Excessive print runs waste money, ink and paper. That 20% over-run of print won’t achieve much on the warehouse floor, aside from hurting your carbon footprint. Don’t forget - with GDPR coming, ensuring good data protection and processing practices will only become more integral.
  • Work with suppliers who adhere to the PAS 2020 environmental standard, introduced as a joint initiative between DEFRA and the Direct Marketing Association to promote environmentally responsible practices.

If you enjoyed this article – comments and questions on a postcard please to Louise at Freshwater, Boundary House, 91 Charterhouse Street, London, EC1M 6HR.


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Impact Report 2017

Impact report 2017