Communication developments in the last 20 years

Twenty years ago, what was happening in the world? In no particular order:

  • Tony Blair won a landslide victory in the UK general election
  • Céline Dion was topping the charts with, ‘My Heart Will Go On.’
  • Hong Kong was handed over to China
  • Dolly the sheep was cloned
  • The first Harry Potter book was published

Quite a year, one way and another, and lots to be communicated. How DID we communicate news in those far off days—and how did we make contact with our clients and potential customers on a business level?

Not like that…

Well, for a start, there was no Facebook, which didn’t emerge until February 2004. Today, it’s almost mind-boggling to realise that there are 65 million business pages on Facebook, and a quarter of the world’s population engage with it. It’s a wonderful informal way of interacting with, and building, an audience, and great for encouraging people to visit your website.

We didn’t use Twitter, because it wasn’t created until March 2006. Unbelievably, just 11 years on, Twitter has more than 319 million monthly active users. For your business, it’s an instant way to build connections with a relevant audience, to strengthen your brand, promote new products and services, or simply develop relationships.

We didn’t use image-based Instagram either, to drive customer engagement and sales or impart information in a snappy way to a possible 600 million users. That’s because it wasn’t launched until October 2010. Pinterest was launched at the same time, which enables businesses to create a virtual shop front to promote their products online.

There wasn’t even LinkedIn until 2003, which, although its focus is on job opportunities, serves a valuable function for branding, marketing and sales too, with business pages. Neither were there smart phones—we had to wait for 2007 for those—so our electronic communications were very much desk-based.

…like this

Direct mail, using the postal service! There wasn’t much choice but to use this method in 1997, but it worked—and it still works today. Everyone loves to receive mail, especially if it’s personalised and looks good. You might think it’s an older generation preference, but Royal Mail has carried out a survey which shows that 15-34-year-olds are:

  • 42% more likely to find mail memorable than the UK population as a whole
  • 27% more likely to welcome it
  • 71% more likely to trust it
  • 21% more likely to switch suppliers because of mail

Not for nothing does the Royal Mail’s brochure The Private Life of Mail carry the strapline, Mail in the Home, Heart and Head. The power of Direct Mail must never be underestimated, despite the advancement of all the digital platforms of communication.

Then there was the telephone and face-to-face interaction, which of course will never go out of fashion.

Emails started life in 1965, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They were a way of sharing files and messages for academics. In 1971, American computer programmer Ray Tomlinson, introduced the @ and in 1976, HM the Queen sent her first email. The process was still largely in the domain of academic institutes until 1988, which heralded the arrival of Microsoft Mail. The first commercial Internet Service Providers hit the scene in the early 1990s. Hotmail launched in 1996 and Yahoo Mail in 1997—twenty years ago. Smart marketers realized that email communications were the future and began to make the shift into using email to communicate with customers.

 And our conclusion is:

How lucky we are, in 2017, to have such an abundance of ways to communicate! Each method has its place: each will appeal more to a different demographic, or be more suitable for certain products and services. Things move on with exciting digital developments—but mail through the letterbox will never lose its appeal.

Mailing Expert

Time to spring clean your data? (Yes, we know it’s July!)

For any direct marketing campaign you need data – people’s names and contact details – and for an effective, cost-effective initiative, the data you use must be accurate.

Out-of-date data – does it matter that much?

A great big YES in answer to that question, for a number of (quite obvious) reasons:

Using inaccurate contact details, you may:

·        Waste your time and money

·        Miss important potential clients

·        Damage your company’s reputation

·        Breach compliance with the Data Protection Act (soon to be GDPR)

·        Annoy people for whom the mailing is irrelevant

·        Distress relatives of the bereaved

Some facts about data decay

Just because you’ve lived in the same house for the last 15 years and your place of work has been at the same address since the beginning of time, it doesn’t mean that everyone else is in the same position.

According to research,[1] each year around 13% of people in the UK will move home; 300,000 will marry or have a civil ceremony, meaning they may change their surname; 600,000 will die; 200,000 will emigrate and hundreds of thousands may move to the UK.

Every year, the Royal Mail has to make about 1.25 million address changes to its Postcode Address File (PAF) – that’s more than 3000 a week. The PAF gives us access to over 29 million residential and business addresses (at the last count.)

It’s said that if you communicate with someone, there’s an alarming 20% chance that their contact information will change in some way within 30 days, and, in 5 years, if you do nothing to clean your data, you may have nothing relevant left at all in your database.

When was the last time you cleaned your data, or had it cleaned?

How we can help at Mailing Expert

We can offer you a full range of data cleaning services – which doesn’t ever involve the use of spray polish or feather dusters, by the way!

Or we can offer an audit, which determines what you need. We can hone and refine the data you wish to use for a marketing campaign to get it in the best possible shape to maximise its value. Here’s what we’d recommend:

1.     Screen against the PAF database

2.     De-duplicate – removing any records which are essentially the same

3.     ‘Goneaway’ (people who’ve moved) and bereavement screening

4.     Check against the Mailing Preference Services register – people who’ve said they don’t want to receive mailings.

Doing this will make sure you make the most of savings available of postage as well as reducing the impact of negative publicity arising from incorrectly sent mail.

Contact us for a chat on 01825 983033 or info@mailingexpert.co.uk about your data needs.

 

Mailing Expert

[1] Mycustomer.com

9.3 million pounds to design, print and distribute a leaflet?

Her Majesty’s Government should have asked us at Mailing Expert.  Not that we’re after the £9 million(honest!), just that we could do the same job, to exactly the same standards for less; no expensive London advertising agency or PR company. Just your local SME! We think the British taxpayers would be very pleased about that.

With over 30 years in the print and Direct Mail business, this sort of mailing service is second nature to us – and it’s something we do very well, if the testimonials and repeat business from our customers are to be believed.

As an SME, our overheads are relatively low so our prices are always competitive, our design and printing services are top notch, using print media from digital, laser and inkjet to full litho printing.

We have access to a range of postal options, working closely with Royal Mail (and other postal suppliers) who offer postage discounts for a variety of services and we also offer a door to door leaflet option too.  We understand all the variables so can select the very best arrangement for you.

For most Direct Mailing campaigns, we offer a fully-managed data service, to make sure your leaflet gets to the right addresses.  Since the EU Referendum leaflet is destined to go to every household in the UK, perhaps, in this case, such clever filtering and data verification is superfluous!

Anyway, NEXT TIME, Mr. Prime Minister, just give us a call and we’ll do you a very good deal.

And everyone else – we know your Direct Mailing requirements won’t be quite as large, but no job is too small for us at Mailing Expert.

Why not drop us a line or give us a ring?

 

We are Mailmark enabled! Good news for your company

Royal Mail Mailmark™ means intelligent mail!

Nothing to do with needing a dictionary to read all the long words in your communications — to do with an innovative way of tracking your post at every stage of its journey. This is very much more advanced than ‘Signed For’ mail.

We’ll put a smart barcode on the mailing we’re sending out on your behalf. Royal Mail scans it at various stages and automatically sends us detailed data so we know where it is and when it will be delivered.

What’s in it for you?

Knowing exactly when your mail will land on your client’s doormat allows you to follow up with a call or more information at the very best moment; therefore helping you with staffing costs too.

We’ll be able to make sure that your mailing has reached its target – and identify glitches accurately, like wrong addresses, which will make for more effective campaigns in the future.

We can even add extra data to the barcode if you require, like returns information, reference or campaign codes for your customers to scan at an event or in-store.

Mailmark™ is for bright sparks — and that’s you!

If you would like more details please contact us at Mailing Expert on 01825 983 033 or email us at info@mailingexpert.co.uk.

Mailmark

 

Devilishly Good Direct Mailing Campaigns!

It’s tempting to think that an email campaign will be more cost-effective than a direct mailing campaign. Don’t be fooled by that thought! The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) carried out a survey in 2012 and the results indicate that response rate from marketing received through the post is on average 4.4%, whereas with an email it’s a mere 0.12%.

Why could that be? Well, you know yourself that our in-boxes are continually bombarded by emails in such great number that, mostly, we ignore them. In the past, we complained about junk mail through our letterboxes. That has now reduced drastically – so has become a good means of reaching your target customers, with a greater likelihood of your message being read.

Here’s another statistic from Royal Mail to make you think: “In 2011-12 an average of 82% of direct mail was opened”.

We’re direct mailing experts at Mailing Expert! We can help you to put together a top notch campaign to encourage responses which may convert into more business for you.

Here are some of our red hot tips:

1. Check out mail you’ve received. You’ll get plenty in the post. See what works for you, what catches your attention and what you screw up into a ball in disgust. Now you’ll be able to plan your own mailing…

2. Design well. Make sure your mailing reflects your company branding and is stylishly conceived on good quality paper – oh, and make sure it’s easy to open. No joke – people will chuck things away if they have to struggle with impenetrable packaging.

3. Write carefully.  Be certain your direct mail is packed with relevant information, written in a compelling way, and, importantly, contains no typos or grammatical errors which will give a very poor impression of your company. And make sure your headline is zappy!

4. Entice with an offer. Add value with a discount, free trial or bonus gift, with a clear call to action so whoever reads your mail will want to say yes!

5. Be targeted. Don’t send out thousands of letters at random. We can help you to refine your data to create high quality prospect lists so your mailing campaign will reach exactly the right people.

6. Do test runs. You could try out some different approaches in small campaigns and monitor the results to see what will work best before you embark on a large scale roll out.

7. Pick your time. Align your campaigns with your other marketing activities, with the season and your clients’ buying habits.

8. Follow up. You could follow up with an email which links to your website to drive more traffic your way.

9. Speak to us! Actually, this should be Tip Number 1! We can help you with all of the above so…

If you have any questions just contact us on 01825 983 033.