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New research reveals 83% of consumers want choice about communications by mail or e-mail

Direct Mail Solutions

The Strategic Mailing Partnership, the body which represents mailing and printing houses across the UK, has welcomed new research from Royal Mail Marketreach, providing an understanding of how businesses can make the most of their customer mail.

The research, which is the biggest study undertaken by the organisation in five years, found that whilst 42% of respondents were encouraged to go paperless last year and nearly half were offered incentives to do so, only about 24% did, with only half of respondents happy to go paperless.

Evidence suggests that companies would be wise to heed customers’ wishes, with 88% of people reading all or most of their customer mail, compared to 76% of their e-mails.

Royal Mail Marketreach commissioned Trinity McQueen to conduct a six part research programme of over 6000 consumers and partnered with Accenture to leverage its wide ranging experience and insights across all aspects of business.

In contrast to advertising mail, where the focus is to ‘sell,’ customer mail’s primary objective is to share information, offer support and develop relationships between an organisation and a named addressee.

The study also found that people are twice as likely to say that they understand complex information when it is presented to them in physical mail compared to digital formats, and more than half (57%) of respondents report that they are less likely to miss something if it comes to them in a physical format.

Furthermore, all age groups engage with mail, including Gen Z and younger millennials who appreciate the personal touch that customer mail connotes. They engage with it more than e-mail: 85% of them open it; 65% store it for future reference; 49% put it somewhere to action later; and 40% show it to others in their household.

That is not to say that there isn’t a role for digital communication in the customer relationship, in fact a combination of both physical and digital mail tends to be the best approach across a customer relationship.

The research, particularly the qualitative customer workshops, provided key insights into how brands can best optimise their customer mail to deliver both a positive customer experience as well as help to build brand equity. It found key times when physical mail is particularly effective is when: the communication needs to be read thoroughly; the recipient needs to act on the information received; the information is important or complex; it needs to be kept for reference or when security or privacy are possible concerns.

The strong sentiment of value associated with customer mail from consumers suggests a vital role for mail as part of the wider customer engagement approach. Its tangibility, its trustworthiness, the way customers appreciate and interact with mail makes it a channel that offers many benefits. As the research shows, customers preferences aren’t for a purely digital experience, so great customer experience should take this into account and business leaders and decision makers need to look at their transformation plans in the whole, beyond merely digital channels.

Lucy Swanston, chair of the SMP, said: ‘This extensive research provides a vital in-depth insight into consumer attitudes towards customer mail and its continued importance in shaping any customer journey and experience. Printers and mailing houses have a huge opportunity to act upon this research by sharing such valuable insight to their customers and implementing some of the best practices and ideas that are within the report.’

Phil Ricketts, wholesale commercial director at Royal Mail Marketreach, said: ‘Our research reaffirms customer mail’s importance in the customer relationship and demonstrates how it can benefit businesses looking to bolster their customer experience strategy. It is an incredibly powerful brand touch point, which is invested with huge amounts of trust by consumers, but one where there is massive opportunity to further leverage its impact as part of the customer experience. When executed well customer mail can add both personal value to customers and commercial value to organisations.’


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