Mail: “Some of the time, it works all of the time”

In Will Ferrell’s hilarious “Anchorman” one of the character’s claims that 60% of the time his favourite cologne “works every time”.

In response, Ron “Anchorman” Burgundy retorts on his and the viewers’ behalf that that statistic “doesn’t make any sense”.

Of course that particular factoid was used purely for comedic purpose, but statistics never fail to throw up the occasional absurdity.

I was reminded of the potential data has to bamboozle when presented with the British Population Survey’s “Marketing Channel Trends” report recently.

In it, the response rate to different marketing materials is presented.

Direct mail or “leaflets through the door” scores highest with about 7% of those polled phoning a call centre or visiting a website after receiving direct mail, significantly higher than television (4%), the internet (4%) and radio (4%).

The report also gauged consumers’ willingness to receive different marketing materials.

And it is in this data lies the contradiction, just a quarter think that it is acceptable for brands to communicate to them via leaflets, while television communication (46%), newspapers and magazines (34%) and radio (30%) are deemed the most acceptable marketing channels.

Not quite as indecipherable as the claim made about Sex Panther cologne but a little puzzling.

The message for marketers seems to be – direct mail works but don’t expect consumers to like it.

But on the sunnier side, it underlines the giant strides made in targeting and analytics that puts mail through the letterboxes of the potentially more receptive.

It would be no bad thing if those deeming mail unacceptable remained constant as long as response rates continue to impress.

Direct marketers should accept that their work might be unloved but it is effective.

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