The online world is an increasingly popular weapon of choice for retailers to communicate with their customers these days. However, it’s also a noisy world, and with so many distractions it’s hard to get a message through to the modern-day consumer.
Managing director of Mailshop Deidre Ross says while consumers’ inboxes are crowded with different companies vying for their attention, their letterboxes are sitting empty.
“There’s no clutter in the letterbox. I go to mine and there’s hardly anything in it these days, so if I get a personalised piece from a retailer, like a catalogue, I’ll bring it inside, have a cup of tea, go through it and share it with my daughters,” she says.
She says this presents an opportunity for retailers to target existing and potential customers with a personalised message.
“Once all the banks and telcos took their statements out of letterboxes, it left a big hole. That’s a perfect opportunity to have a discussion with customers directly via their letterbox.”
Unlike email, a piece of direct mail is delivered straight into a customer’s hands, giving it the experiential factor which consumers are craving. As well as this, the the technology behind direct mail allows greater personalisation than ever before.
Ross says retailers can personalise every last detail on a mailer, from a person’s name, gender or age, to even changing out the creative idea in order to craft the message to the individual.
“It’s personal content, one-to-one, that’s forming a relationship between the customer and the business,” Ross says. “A personalised letter to a customer with a coupon and sample of products, that tends to get a lot of attention.”
Personalised mailers also aren’t classed a circular by New Zealand Post, so there’s no need to worry about it not finding its way to the end consumer. While other advertising methods often have a broad approach to databases, direct mailers can be localised and target people in a specific area.
This works well when opening a new store, Ross says. Retailers have the option of purchasing lists of nearby people’s addresses, narrowing it down to relevant participants and sending customers a message or special offer which says: “Hi, we don’t know you but we want to know you.”
“You cannot sell a secret, you’ve got to tell people you’re there,” Ross says. “It’s getting word out and is an investment to your customers.”
As for retailers who already have a store open and are worried about the popularity of online shopping, Ross says this is a great way to coax people back through the shop doors and increase customer loyalty.
“I know people are shopping offshore online, so if you’re not talking to your customer and just expecting them to come through your door, they’re going to look online,” she says. “But if you build a relationship with them and have relevance and they feel special, one-to-one, they will come in if the offer’s right."
Ross says direct mail can be both affordable and effective at generating new sales. Mailshop clients have seen a spike in revenue immediately after a direct mail piece has found its way into the hands of a customer, she says.
“It is a very powerful channel for retailers.”
Thinking of creating a direct mail piece? Here are some tips.
The do's and don'ts of sending direct mail
• Do include more personalisation than just a name and address. The possibilities are endless, so take advantage of it and change out the creative for each person, e.g. targeting someone who’s recently bought a car by showing the car with the number plate displaying the customer’s first name.
• Do create visuals that are relevant and eyecatching, as they’re almost more important than what’s written on the page. People are time poor, so a great creative will capture their attention and encourage them to share it with others.
• Don’t forget to keep your database accurate and up-to-date. Check mailing lists regularly, remove duplicates and correct any mistakes. Mailshop can check a retail database’s health and create a report based off of it.
• Don’t expect to be able to track results if there’s no method of measuring customer responses. If there is a call to action that tells customers to head to a Facebook page or to come into the store, the success of a mailer can be tracked. If there’s no invitation, there’s no way to know.