& Mail.

A digital yin-yang symbol on a pink background.

Why digital and mail make perfect marketing partners.

By Mark Brown, Account Director

Digital transformation is all the rage. In 2022, firms spent $1.6tn on overhauling systems and processes. According to Statista’s estimates this is set to more than double to $3.4tn by 2026.

In part this is a natural response to investigating new tech on the market. But it also underlines the power of digital to automate a wide range of business operations, leading to greater efficiency and better outcomes.

Digital’s promise of a more effective use of marketing budgets, and a slicker, more satisfying experience for consumers, is understandably attractive. And against that backdrop, it might be hard for some brands to see why they should continue with ‘traditional’ comms.

The fact is, though, a digital-first – or digital-only – strategy could exclude large sections of your database from receiving information. What people really want is choice – and, in no uncertain terms, that includes mail.

In that sense, brands and consumers can benefit from the best of both worlds. Some years ago, Royal Mail ran a promotional campaign declaring ‘D loves E’: direct mail loves email. Both channels have moved on somewhat, with many different campaign options available – but the overall sentiment remains true today.

The power of a combined approach to comms.

Speaking of the postal operator, Royal Mail MarketReach conducted research in 2022 that suggests more consumers read posted communications than engage with other channels:

  • 88% read all/most customer mailings
  • 76% check all/most emails
  • 58% read the majority of text messages
  • 44% review most app notifications

When we polled UK-based customers of utilities companies – some of the largest users of mail for both marketing and regulatory purposes – we discovered the largest share (26%) prefer to receive communications from brands via a combination of online channels and in the mail.

What’s more, the research reveals that the youngest cohort of consumers we surveyed is the most interested in only receiving utilities comms through the post. That highlights the fact that some common preconceptions about this method of contacting customers can create a hole in comms strategy and certainly leave some consumers out in the cold.

Another stat from the MarketReach study revealed that despite brands incentivising more than half of the 42% of UK consumers who were encouraged to ‘go paperless’, fewer than a quarter overall (24%) agreed to do so.

This is further evidence that puttithere’s a regulatory requirement to ensure all customers are reached with certain communications – so overlooking them isn’t all your comms eggs in a digital basket is not the only option. In the case of utilities and other financial sectors, for instance,

Then there are the groups who don’t find digital comms suitable; vulnerable sections of society, blind and partially sighted people, and others. And that’s before you even consider the swathes of individuals who want to be contacted through a combination of marketing channels they view as being most convenient for their needs.

Hybrid helps campaigns reach more consumers.

There are myriad reasons why people prefer print – or at least a mix of marketing channels through which they like to be engaged. If you’re driving customers to use an app, it’s no longer push marketing, and therefore is rarely as effective as brands hope.

Such a strategy relies on the consumer making the effort to download the app to their device, then – for instance – taking it to a store to use a promo code; and while they are there, being bombarded with other in-store offers, but still remembering to open the app and use it. If you deliver printed vouchers to the individual via their mailbox, not their inbox, it’s just easier for them to pocket the offers and redeem them at store.

So, this certainly isn’t me howling for brands to ditch digital. It’s about simultaneously embracing newer and more traditional channels. Consumers clearly like choice. For a hybrid approach to work, you’ll need the support of experts who can make marketing work across channels with tactics such as:

  • Tracking redemptions across databases, which can optimise the marketing mix – dialling back app use or mail volumes after analysing preferences during the customer journey
  • Building middleware e.g. data APIs that allow brands to enhance digital communications with a physical element
  • Analysing customer lifetime value, and overall engagement and response rates to send the right comms to the right person at the right time
  • Considering sustainability, using 100% recycled paper for mailings and fully accredited as suppliers e.g. FSC

In the digital age, print’s power may be hiding in plain sight. The latest data from the Association of National Advertisers found that it outperforms all other marketing media. Direct mail has the strongest ROI at 43% when sent to prospect lists followed by email (32%) and social media advertising at 29%.

Migration, transformation, the online rush; whatever you call brands’ overwhelming desire for digital, don’t forget that mail remains the key to the consumer’s front door, and an approach of combining new and traditional comms techniques can reap rewards.



NEWDIGITALAGE.CO – Why digital and mail make perfect marketing partners

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