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Direct Mail, Marketing

The Royal Mail’s 'Private Life of Mail' (and why we all love it so)

Written by Jason Groom
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Originally published
February 19 2015,
updated
July 3 2020

It’s a great report. Have you read it? If not and you’d like to there’s a link at the bottom of the page. It’s overdue – by quite a long time – but it’s weighty, comprehensive, fascinating and just goes to prove what us direct mail aficionados have been saying for years, that is “Direct mail works!”

Still need convincing?
Well, here’s our quick 12-point summary of the key findings and stats that will bowl you over and get you planning your next DM campaign.

1. Royal Mail commissioned the piece which took 18 months to complete.

2. It used some pretty neat and new research methods – including ethnography and neuroscience - alongside traditional interviews.

3. Its reach was broad

  • 12 households
  • 14 focus groups
  • 213 participants
  • 9504 respondents
  • Analysis of a raft of academic research, databases and other survey results

4. Going beyond the usual ROI measurements, it uncovered what people really feel about their mail and how they react to it.

5. While mail lands on the doormat that’s not actually where it’s read.

6. 39% of people have a “dedicated display area” in their home where they put mail. We’re betting you do too and have just thought about where that is!

7. 23% of all mail is shared with at least one other and it takes a journey around the home – so, not just the A to B sender to recipient we might have thought.

8. People keep it. On average, 17 days for ad mail, 38 days for door drops and 45 days for bills and statements. Compare that to news that 51% of emails are deleted within two seconds; quite a contrast, eh?

9. You may love what you can see, but you love something more (24% more in fact) if you can touch it. The physical properties of printed mail therefore beat anything received digitally.

10. Mail is memorable. It stimulates the area of the brain responsible for long-term memory and that helps keep a brand front of mind.

11. Reaction to it is largely unconscious and instinctive as it works on the part of the brain responsible for decision making.

12. There’s value attached to it which creates a more “genuine two-way relationship” between a brand and its customers.

We love digital of course and there’s no denying that in some instances it’s the best channel, but the research is conclusive – there really is something special about direct mail. You can see it, touch it, feel it, hold on to it…even smell it and it appeals to all of the senses like no other channel. In fact, Big Chris in Lock Stock could have been talking about DM when he famously said "It's been emotional"…

You’re right, we’ve gone too far with that one. But if you want to keep it real and to check out the full facts click here.

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