As a ‘digital native’ herself, Sirah explores the value that traditional communication methods, such as creative direct mail, hold in resonating with younger customers.

Author: Sirah Awan

There are many things I look forward to on my birthday. Outings with friends and family, cake and, last but not least, retailers swamping my inbox with discount codes as a ‘birthday gift’. As a self-confessed shopaholic, I always look forward to having access to so many discounted goodies to spend my birthday money on.

But this year, as I hit my mid-twenties, I received something that resonated with me more than any emailed offer ever could. I was delighted to open a personalised birthday card with a discount code inside posted to me by one of my favourite online retailers, PrettyLittleThing, instead of an email. While my initial reaction was that this tells me I shop online too much, I was genuinely impressed with the sentiment by the brand. I had never received a birthday card from a retailer before. This creative direct mail approach made the brand stand out against the other retailers sending me emails and made me feel valued as a customer.

While sending printed cards is evidently more costly for brands, it’s important to consider the value, effectiveness and potential outcomes of implementing a direct mail campaign, such as this one.

  • It nurtures the relationship I have with the brand. This makes them more memorable and puts them at the forefront of my mind when considering my options of where to shop in future.
  • Having a tangible printed item in my house means I’m more likely to see it, less likely to forget about it and therefore much more likely to eventually use the discount code on the retailer’s website.
  • Personalised print sells. Though in this instance, the personalisation was subtle – my name was printed inside the card – it was still a lot more impactful than an e-mail where a computer generates my name.
  • I was so delighted to receive my first birthday card of the year, I took a photo of the card and shared it on social media for my friends to see. While I don’t have thousands of followers, this still results in increased promotion for the brand and potentially an increase in visits to the brand’s website, which ultimately can lead to an extra sale or two.

In my view, direct mail feels a lot more personal and thoughtful – nothing beats being able to have a tangible item to keep. After all, who doesn’t like receiving birthday cards? This example should provide a valuable lesson for other retailers.

And the effectiveness of this approach isn’t just anecdotal. Research by Royal Mail highlights that, on average, direct mail pushes up return on investment from £2.81 to £3.40 for every £1 spent*.

As a 25 year old that has grown up alongside rapidly evolving technology, I may be labelled by many as a “digital native”. But ultimately, in today’s digital world, to stand out you have to be different. In circumstances like these my appreciation for print remains strong.

As we are constantly bombarded with tweets, texts, emails and other digital notifications on a daily basis, personalised direct mail may just be the trick brands are missing to grab the attention of younger customers and strengthen long-term relationships.

*’How to build a business case for Direct Mail’, Royal Mail

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