Direct mail is dead...or is it?

Posted: 13 Nov 2018 - 12:43
Direct mail is dead
Paperless statements, online payments, and e-newsletters have had a vast impact on direct mail as a communication tool for marketers. Millennials’ experience of this often discounted channel is a far cry from the previous generation’s wait for important letters to sign and return.

But is that shift justified?

Our UCAS Media student lifestyle report showed us that direct mail still enjoys a valuable position with the student market. Aside from the 17-day average retention rate for direct mail, when you consider the efficiencies of targeting students and their parents with one campaign cost while they’re under the same roof, direct mail starts to look attractive once again.

Student preference

As part of our research, we asked students how they preferred to be contacted in various circumstances. When it came to offers from online retailers, for example, postal beat SMS to second place in the preference table. Of the same group, a quarter were happy to receive offers through the post, once a month or more. Another 7% would happily receive them every few months.

The same finding re-emerged, where direct mail again placed second as the preferred method of communication for products and offers. This time, it beat both SMS and online banner advertising. When it came down to the content of a direct mail campaign, 70% of students told us they’d respond positively to offers, discounts, and free samples sent by post. Just 15% said they wouldn’t like to receive anything.

Market analysis

For the market as a whole, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has gone to great lengths to dispel the myths of mail being a dying channel. Their studies have shown the response rate of direct mail is anywhere from ten to 30 times that of email, and even higher when compared to online display. 

So, while responses aren’t the end game of every marketing drive, direct mail is absolutely still a powerful tactic in 2018.  

Speculating why direct mail can hold its own with the pace and ROI of digital, experts comment that the scales may have shifted back, in the same way they did at the beginning of digital. The popularity and proliferation of digital communications has created a saturated channel, while the ‘decline’ of direct mail has decluttered that space. The words ‘junk’ and ‘spam’ are much more associated with email now than they are with direct mail, opening the window for a resurgence. 

This extends to millennials too, with Gallup reporting that more than a third of those under 30 look forward to checking their post every day. More so, 95% of the same demographic elicit a ‘positive response’ to receiving personal cards and letters. 

So why wait?

For universities and brands alike, the ‘deep and intuitive’ experience of direct mail is a golden USP in a competitive marketplace. Where students have the choice of hundreds of universities, being the most memorable, with the opportunity to express the student experience in something tangible, can make a big difference when it comes to decision-making. And likewise, for brands, being able to offer a sample, or the opportunity for a brand experience, is a winner.

We’re in the perfect position to support universities and brands that want to speak to and support the verified student audience, with course opportunities, products, and services that will make their next step a confident one.

For more information, or to find out how we can connect you to this important audience, please call 01242 544 881, or email ucasmedia@ucas.ac.uk.

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