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Taking it personally – the new generation of mail personalisation

by Ian Davidson | May 7, 2015 | No Comments

Direct mail is undergoing a resurgence. In today’s commercial landscape, businesses risk being swept along on a tidal wave of digital communications. With a remarkable array of marketing communications tools widely available to businesses, successful campaigns integrate both physical and digital communication, empowering recipients to respond using their preferred channel. Many of us still appreciate physical communication, and prefer the one-to-one relationship it generates. A considered, carefully-worded, timely, relevant and targeted letter is a breath of fresh air. And research proves this: whilst email certainly has its place, 60% of us1 prefer direct mail over email or other mailing methods.

Smart business leaders know this. They are using direct mail to attract, interest, engage and excite customers, and ultimately, to generate business: direct mail has a 25 percent response rate compared to 23 percent for emails2.   67% of us3 feel direct mail is more personal than the Internet.

For many of us, letters addressed ‘To the homeowner’ go straight into the recycling bin without being opened. Research is consistent with this, revealing that personalised documents can improve response rates by as much as 30%. It’s common sense that if an organisation wants to attract or retain your business, it must take the time to find out your name, at the very least. But personalisation has moved on, and those businesses truly delighting their customers are integrating the latest digital and physical channels to create and maintain a long-term customer relationship through personalised content.

Thanks to the ability to capture precise, accurate data on everything from name, address and socio-demographic to buyer behaviour, location and propensity to buy at a certain time, both physical and digital customer communications can now be more tightly targeted than ever. This is the next generation of personalisation, as highly-creative design teams deliver bespoke, memorable communications to create real impact.  Digitally, we have techniques such as hyper-targeted contextual messages sent to smartphones.  But physical mail, too, is benefiting from new personalisation techniques. Those businesses not making the most of these techniques are missing a trick, as:

  • Envelopes can be printed with personalised colour messages and product offers: “Boost your internet power, Jack, as fibre-optic broadband is now available at 3, Acacia Avenue!” or “You love Rioja, Melanie – don’t miss your chance to order our smoothest vintage yet – see inside now!”
  • Geographic references can be included in a letter or brochure, creating relevancy and demonstrating an empathy with the recipient – “Our new store is only 10 minutes’ walk from your home, James!”
  • Bills can be highly personalised and used as tools to maintain customer engagement
  • Photos and images of particular interest to the customer can be printed on letters or envelopes
  • Membership cards can be inserted into a mailing, each unique to the recipient
  • Bespoke offers and printed vouchers can be included
  • Calls-to-action can be tailored to the customer – businesses running campaigns integrating digital and print can drive customers to a personalised URL (PURL), which includes the recipient’s name in the URL and directs them to a personalised landing page with customised copy

Personalised direct mail is measurable, cost-effective, and powerful. Incorporating a few more personalisation tactics creates impact and boosts results, increasing open rates and response rates. It’s time to get personal, and make the most of the tools and techniques we have at our fingertips to do this.


1 Epsilon study, November 2012

2 Harvard Business Review June 2013

3 Epsilon study, November 2012

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