The research, conducted by independent agency Quadrangle, shows that “valued mail”, or that which consumers find useful and/or interesting or has a personal relevance to them, drives the most value for advertisers through “direct action” and “positive brand effect” such as advocacy.
The majority (92%) of respondents said they had an emotional response to mail they valued, with 92% of them taking one or more actions on the back of that response such as purchasing, renewing or donating.
Other benefits for brands included more searches for online information caused by valued mail (37%), discussing the mail with others (33%), planning a future purchase (29%) or holding onto the mail for future reference (73%).
Jonathan Harman, managing director of Royal Mail MarketReach, said: “This research validates what we’ve always known about valued mail – that it drives direct action – but that it also opens up new areas for advertisers such as long-term responses and actions that have lasting beneficial effects on the advertiser brand.
“There’s a clear gain here for advertisers who understand this and leverage mail for both direct action and positive brand effect. This research also demonstrates the need for better metrics for mail in order to capture its long-term, positive brand benefits.”
How to make mail valuable
In order for mail to be considered valuable consumed claimed it needed to tell them something important or be personally relevant, including keeping them up to date (83%), telling them something new (65%), providing instructions, appointment or reminders (64%) or informing them of new products and services (58%).
The study also showed that most consumers (85%) are more likely to see mail as valuable if it comes from an advertiser they already have an existing relationship with.
The report comes after Royal Mail launched a major campaign in January to promote the medium’s ROI credentials and role in marketing.
It also released a piece of research, The Private Life of Mail, in an attempt to quantify mail’s position with “insight into the role of mail in people’s homes, hearts and heads, plus the impact this has on advertisers’ ROI”.
Over half (57%) of respondents to the Private Life of Mail survey claimed that receiving mail makes them feel more valued while 60% said the best mail advertising helps keep a sender’s brand top of mind.
The study also showed that campaigns including mail versus those without mail are 27% more likely to deliver top-ranking sales performance and 40% more likely to deliver top-ranking acquisition levels.
Both the campaign and the research were aimed at decision makers at brands and agencies.
Brands reappraising direct mail
Royal Mail is not the only brand trying to big up its marketing effectiveness and there have certainly been signs recently that the marketing industry is reappraising direct mail after years of moving in the direction of digital.
The UK’s six leading national newspaper groups have announced that they will combine forces to launch a £3m advertising campaign in an effort to remind people of “the unique role newspapers play for advertisers, readers and society”.
The ad campaign, created by Holmes Hobbs Marcantonio (HHM), focuses on the spending power of newspaper readers, promoting the fact that 18-24 year olds turn to news brands, not the TV, for their news.
Meanwhile, AA/Warc data showed that direct mail spend is forecast to return to growth in 2015 after three years of decline.
Royal Mail itself reported last November that marketing mail revenue, which accounts for around a quarter of letters revenue, jumped by 5% to £571m in the six months to 28 September.