Traditional DM still has a place despite the digital revolution

My mother has just called me, three times and only once intended. This is the first time she has used her Tesco bought feature in two weeks. 

Russell Parsons

I’d wager this analogue native is far from rare although there is, of course, plenty of evidence to suggest their number is diminishing.

Evidence came last week, in fact, in the form of Ofcom’s communications market report. In it, the media watchdog found that the relish the British public is embracing, as it calls them, “portable connected devices” and how they are fuelling a revolution in communication habits.

The figures bear this out. Four in ten households have a tablet, up from a quarter a year ago, while 61 per cent have a smartphone. For the young, in particular the 14-15 year-old “millennium generation”, the report paints a picture of a generation whose whole life is conducted through social media via their mobile.

Reading such statistics, and there are plenty of other examples to go around, you’d be forgiven for thinking that traditional direct marketing channels are almost entirely redundant. You’d be wrong, of course.

If 60 per cent have a smartphone then there are still tens of millions like my mother that do not, even more that do not have a tablet.

In a recent Marketing Week roundtable on mobile participants mused on this very subject. Annabel Thorburn, senior marketing manager for web and mobile development at, said:

“We have a valuable customer base that is representative of the UK, so we also have to be mindful of not overestimating the smartphone. Sixty per cent of our customers use them but many of our customers don’t, and many are resistant to change.”

Warming to this theme Thomas Pink marketing head Alex Field, concurred: “It’s all about the right channel for the right customer. There’s not yet a sea change – there are still 40 per cent of people without a smartphone so it’s important that a brand understands what channel to communicate with a customer in.”

It is. Completion of the digital revolution is inevitable but it is far from complete and it would be a dumb direct marketer who forgets this in the rush to satisfy a generation that is still far from being your natural constituent.

A DM pack, a leaflet, an email campaign, a well targeted text message, a phone call, a door step visit all still have a place in the right circumstances at the right time with the right customer or prospect. 

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