“People absolutely believe that customer mail is safe, trustworthy and about them”
Amanda Griffiths, Head of Insight and Planning at Royal Mail Marketreach, explains the benefits of customer mail and the fascinating results of the organisation’s latest research.
What exactly is customer mail?
Customer mail is mail that’s sent to an individual who has some level of relationship with the organisation, usually a customer. So it’s welcome packs, bank statements, loyalty card statements, hospital appointments, that kind of thing. It’s mail designed to provide information to someone, support them or reinforce the relationship. What’s unique about customer mail is that it goes to someone who has a named relationship with the brand.
What are its advantages for the brand?
In a world where consumers are exposed to thousands of marketing messages a day, they know it takes time and effort to craft a mail message, so it’s become super-trusted. People absolutely believe that customer mail is safe, trustworthy and about them, so these messages all cut through and build the relationship. People talk about this kind of mail differently because they see it as important, relevant and personal.
What are the differences between customer mail and digital?
Digital communication is great for immediate messaging, but in the long term, these messages are frequently forgotten or lost as inboxes fill up. Mail’s physicality and the ability to access it easily gives it real long-term value. People hold onto it, people go back to it, people set it aside and save it because they want to engage with it. All the things mail does create a real long-term, ongoing brand impression, which is where its strength lies.
What do marketing decision makers see as the main barrier to using mail?
The primary barrier they see is price, which is why so much digital substitution happens – people too often just see it as a cost. We identified the big challenge in overcoming this is that the impact of this type of mail isn’t measured, which makes it very difficult to prove to people that it has a value. If they did measure it, they would be able to see, for example, that customers who get paper bills may be more likely to be retained and spend more, that patients are more likely to attend appointments, or that loyalty mailings bring people back to the brand But without the measurement, mail is just seen as a cost.
How do you see customer mail developing over the next few years?
The revival of QR codes during the pandemic was huge and now creates an extraordinary opportunity for businesses to build using mail as the first step in the journey – using a QR code not just to send someone to a website, but to take them on a personal journey and link to something that’s relevant to them. People know what to do with QR codes now and have the technology to make it easy, so we’ll see that being used more.
What’s the next big research project for Marketreach?
We’re looking at several things at the moment, such as catalogues. With a combination of the pandemic and the way shopping has changed, we want to understand the role of catalogues and how brands can use them in the best possible way. We’re also looking into the growing cost-of-living crisis to understand where mail can help. One of the other big buzzwords in the industry is attention, and nothing gets more attention than a piece of mail. I really want to get involved in that conversation!
• To read the full Royal Mail Marketreach Customer Mail report, go to https://www.marketreach.co.uk/resource/customer-mail