What does the future look like for direct mail?

By Isla Munro

5 minute Read


  • Blog

Posting letters has been an integral part of communication ever since Royal Mail was created back in 1516. Putting a letter, postcard, or small parcel into one of the UK’s iconic red pillar boxes has been instrumental in keeping people, communities, friends, and colleagues connected throughout the years. It was no surprise then that when a global pandemic hit, companies as well as individuals relied on these traditional methods to keep people connected, information shared and spirits high.

Many brands use direct mail as part of their marketing mix as a safe and trustworthy way to communicate with their customers, and more so than ever whilst we have all been at home, mail has been there to support us.

But what does the future of direct mail look like and what do we think marketing and decision makers in business will do with mail in the future? Will the way we produce mail change? Will more marketing budget be allocated to mailing campaigns? What does offline marketing mean for online marketing and vice versa? How will mailings affect the environment?

In this blog we share some of our Dragonfly direct mail and marketing insights and predictions with you.

How will the way we produce mail change?

We don’t think the actual method of mail production will change but the attitude towards mail certainly has.  As things around the world are evolving so quickly and will be evolving quickly for some time to come, then a much speedier approach will be required from getting an idea of a mail piece off the drawing board and onto a printing press. We imagine there will be even more of a need for quick to market mail pieces, like regional information updates via doordrops or enticing business recovery incentives to drive people in store or online by an eye catching mail pack.

We believe as the months go on, that there will be an even bigger appreciation of direct mail, discovered during our time at home as we think more consumers will have been turned off by digital communication and will suffer online fatigue. It’s been a great time for companies to reflect and come up with new creative ideas that can be created from print in order to hold onto existing customers and attract new ones, which in this market is vital to stay ahead of the game.

How can direct mail work with new and old customers during COVID?

We have already seen that there is more focus on communicating with existing customers and databases as these are a reliable and dependable source of income. They are also people that have been nurtured and invested in, so like a friend or family member you wouldn’t just give up on them during hard times. We don’t envisage a squeeze more out of you approach, but more portraying a positive “open for business” message through highly targeted direct mail campaigns. Images can speak a million words and there is no better way to communicate a lifestyle choice or charity appeal than through beautiful images printed on lovely paper.  

Cold data is on the come back and with it a thirst for making the mail pack count.  Marketing teams want to see more creative thinking and analysis to show their budget has been well spent. As our lifestyles have been forced to change there is the opportunity to introduce new brands, services or charities to the right people who are interested to hear more.

Brands will need to be sensitive in the way they approach customers and ensure that communications are meaningful and compliant so as not to impact their own brand image and look as if they are profiteering.

How will the direct mail market change?

We envisage marketing budgets may decrease in the short term which is not necessarily a bad thing.  Where there is less money to spend, but the same outcomes expected direct mail can shine as a low cost way of communicating to a highly targeted audience.  Positive messages can be portrayed by demonstrating the power of print and direct mail through examples of high ROI and even higher response rates. We think there will be a surge of “we’re back and ready to start living again” mailings from eager brands keen to put their best foot forward on the road to recovery.

Mental health has been high on the agenda throughout the COVID uncertainty and we believe confident brands should continue to grow relationships with the consumer – a simple “hello, how are you, we’re thinking of you” mailing can make the world of difference to someone and will be remembered long after it has landed on the doormat.

We believe more than ever that in the last five months people have come to rely on and see the value in the postal service. We hope as a result companies will continue to invest and use print as a method to communicate. Hopefully, it will be seen as a more responsive market by marketeers - especially those who have already embraced a mind shift in the work from home culture as we see more people staying at home or hot desking.

If you would like to discuss your next direct mail or marketing campaign, please contact us here

Isla Munro image

About the author

Isla is an experienced Managing Director, marketeer and leader. Driven by creative data led solutions, she takes pride in providing the best direct marketing campaigns and strategies. As Dragonfly’s Managing Director, her goals include delivering growth not just for her clients, but her team too. Isla sits on the Royal Mail Strategic Mailing Partnership board and the DMA Scotland committee and has spoken at many industry events on topics including GDPR and direct marketing.

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