Clive Stringer, Business Development Director for Pitney Bowes, argues that mail is the perfect fit for the new ‘rational and emotional’ marketing strategy favoured by brands. ‘Disruption’ was the theme running through the recent World Mail and Express Europe event in Poland. Industry disruption and the changing volume and structure of what, when and how we send, means organisations must continually reinvent themselves and change the way they communicate. The empowered and enlightened customer is driving this transformation: whether we realise it or not this change in consumer behaviour is shaping our industry. It’s leading us to use technology in new ways, bringing together physical and digital communications to deliver actionable, memorable and meaningful customer experiences.
The dramatic increase in parcel volume, driven by the continued Ecommerce boom, has led many of us to change our business models. But the naysayers of physical mail may yet be proved wrong with their predictions of ‘digital’ sounding the death knell for post. In fact, the more immersed and saturated we become in our digital world, (how long do we all spend deleting unwanted emails and texts every day?) the more value is placed on mail as a credible, trusted communications channel which adds gravitas to a brand. This trust and credibility has to be the ultimate goal for businesses.
To create strong lifetime customer value, increased loyalty and revenue, today’s brands need to develop a continuous and engaging relationship with their customers, not just a one-off transaction which is the curse of the on-line retailer. Brands that are successful with this do so by connecting with their consumers in a way that generates an emotional response. When brands combine this emotional engagement with a rational message – the emotion generated backed up with clear fact and reason – it’s incredibly powerful.
Brand guru Tony Heywood cites car manufacturers as leading the way in combining the rational and emotional: BMW and Mercedes for example, both focus on quality, refinement and engineering excellence, but BMW focuses on performance while Mercedes highlights its reliability1: emotion is backed up with logic.
The Post Office’s chief marketing officer, Pete Markey, also talks about the power of combining the emotional and rational to help it diversify, drive customer engagement and achieve its own brand transformation objectives. Branch modernisation, a new brand identity and an enhanced digital presence are three ways they have achieved this2.
This drive towards creating affinity and loyalty with a brand through a rational and emotional response has exciting implications for our industry. In research, direct mail was found to make 87% of consumers feel connected to a brand, and 43% feel they trust a brand or business enough through direct mail to be prompted to download something from them3: it’s a great example of a combined physical and digital strategy. This trust and connection isn’t limited to particular age groups either: a new study from Royal Mail, ‘the Life Stages of Mail’, reveals that young people are 32% more likely to say they trust information in print than on the Internet, and 27% bought or ordered from direct mail in the last 27 months across all age groups.
For those businesses looking to create a rational and emotional response to drive loyalty there is a huge opportunity to engage with consumers using physical mail. Mail cuts through digital noise and its tangibility helps create standout. When mail is integrated with digital channels, the communication becomes even more powerful. Research4 has found that adding mail to the marketing mix drives 21% more consumers to make purchases than through email alone, whilst 51% of consumers say they prefer companies to use a combination of mail and email.
The fact is, mail stimulates behaviours which drive consumers to act. It lasts longer and has greater impact than email alone, and importantly it adds integrity and impact to a campaign. For those businesses looking to generate a rational and emotional connection with their audience, to achieve strong results and deliver a meaningful customer experience, physical mail has an increasingly significant part to play.
2 Source: Marketing Week
3 Source: centralmailing.co.uk
4 Source: The Secret life of mail