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Marketers Win by Catering to Millennial Direct Mail Fans

Remember when marketing gurus were calling direct mail “dead,” drowned by a wave of digital, mobile, and social technologies? Well, research keeps resurrecting mail from its low-tech tomb. In fact, recent studies find that Millennials–the 22- to 36-year-old, tech-savvy generation supposedly addicted to mobile devices and digital networking–are bigger fans of direct mail than older generations in some ways!  That’s information that printers, mailing services, and a list broker and direct marketing consultant like AccuList USA can use to convince clients who hesitate over direct mail spending.

Millennials Like Direct Mail in General

For example, a recent study by InfoTrends and Prinova found that response rates for direct mail remain high for all demographics, including Millennials, who open direct mail received at the same high rate of 66% as recipients overall. More significantly, Milennials as a group respond faster to mail–within 2.4 months–which is less than the average response time for all respondents. Plus, the InfoTrends research found that a big 63% of Millennials who responded to a direct mail piece within that three-month period actually made a purchase! Along similar lines, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) conducted a survey on direct mail’s political impact on Millennials and found that at least 42% of Millennials prefer direct mail political ads over online ads, that twice as many thoroughly read political mail, and that Millennials are more likely to be prompted to action by mail, with 66% likely to research the candidate and 54% visiting the candidate’s website after receiving mail.

But Millennials Also Prefer Specific Mail Tactics

However, research also shows that all mail pieces are not created equal. Mailings that resonate best with Millennials are targeted and personalized, per research. Luckily, sophisticated targeting and personalization are possible with today’s variable printing, programmatic and automation programs, and database segmentation and analytics. Millennials demand printing quality as well, with one quarter of surveyed 25- to 34-year-olds saying they opened direct mail because of the print and image quality. Mailers going beyond the standard No. 10 envelope–including 3-D dimensional mailers, pop-ups and intricately folded pieces–are playing to this audience that appreciates visual creativity. Plus, engaging copy counts, with 25% of that same surveyed group saying they consider reading direct mail a leisure activity. That doesn’t mean that printed mail can be divorced from Millennials’ digital lifestyle. Data in eMarketer’s survey report “US Millennial Shoppers 2017” shows that Millennials prefer digital shopping, even while in stores, and are comfortable with mobile shopping. The Millennial preference for digital/mobile shopping means that integrating print and digital–via QR, AR, or PURL–can significantly boost response, as shown in multiple studies. Research also shows that video is a response-getter for Millennials’ digital promotions. And now mailers have the printing technology to jump on the video bandwagon with audio players and video screens incorporated in direct mail.

For a good overview of recent data on direct mail and Millennials, see this article from The Financial Brand.

What Data Questions Should Agency Agreements Address?

As a data broker and data services provider, AccuList USA knows first-hand that the era of “big data” has created both greater opportunities and greater complications for marketers in terms of access and use of data. In fact, Advertising Audit and Risk Management (AARM), a North American provider of independent advertising audit and consulting services, recently urged advertisers and marketers to review agency contracts to make sure they address evolving “big data” issues.

Unanswered Data Questions Leave Risky Gaps

Data can drive a precisely targeted marketing strategy by leveraging insights from transactional and customer behavioral data–assuming that the advertiser/marketer has the right to receive and use that data. Based on their experience, AARM cites at least six key, but often unanswered, data questions that advertisers should cover in contracts. Those questions include:

  • Who owns the data?
  • Where is the data stored?
  • For how long?
  • How secure is the data?
  • Is the data kept separate from that of other advertisers?
  • Is your data being used to aid other advertisers?
Everybody Wants to Claim Valuable Data

AARM points out that data ownership is not automatically ceded to an advertiser or marketer despite investment in a media buy generating a data stream. Many within the media chain may try to claim the generated data: Ad agencies, trading desks, publishers, demand-side platforms, and third-party ad servers all may seek unrestricted access, if not ownership, of valuable customer data. That’s why marketers and advertisers need to be sure that legal agreements clearly and consistently spell out data ownership rights, privacy considerations and third-party access rights.

Guarding First-, Second- and Third-Party Data

Ownership and access to third-party data–often sourced from agencies and ad tech providers–is usually clearly spelled out in licensing agreements between stakeholders. But AARM notes that advertisers also need to be careful that second-party data, meaning information gathered indirectly from users via an advertiser’s relationship with another entity (such as an SEO platform or behaviorally targeted digital display ad), is used or shared in a privacy-compliant manner.  Advertisers must guard their first-party data, too, AARM cautions. For example, there are data privacy and security risks for first-party data used in programmatic digital and addressable TV buys, where unregulated, unsupervised use could violate privacy rights.

For AARM’s article, “Big Data. Big Deal. You Bet,” see https://marketingmath.aarmusa.com/2016/12/05/big-data-big-deal-you-bet/