DM timing more important than personalisation
Two-thirds of British consumers claim that they are more likely to respond to direct marketing that reaches them at the right time, compared to only one-third who say that design and personalisation are more likely to encourage them to respond, according to research commission by direct mail production firm GI Direct.
The case for personalisation in direct marketing is widely recognised, and well-targeted campaigns are common enough, but this aspect of direct mail may no longer be as important as the marketer's timing.
The survey's findings across all categories were fairly consistent, but there were some suprising variations:
- Consumers aged 35-44 were most easily persuaded by timing (70%). Since major life changes, such as buying a house and having children, are starting to happen later in life these days, this age-group is perhaps particularly receptive to well-timed campaigns offering the right kind of deals (for furniture or baby-related products, for example).
- Timing was an important factor for both men and women, although men (68%) were slightly more swayed by good timing than women (64%). However, men and women scored almost equally for design and personalisation being the most important factor driving their response to an offer (scoring 31% and 32% respectively).
- Regionally speaking, Londoners were the least influenced by design and presentation (24%), possibly because the faster pace of life in the capital city means that people are more likely to be receptive to offers that consider their hectic work and social schedules.
According to Patrick Headley of GI Direct, "Both personalisation and timing are clearly important, and the one cannot be substituted for the other. But there is a question of balance between the two. The appearance and personalisation of direct marketing is critical in achieving 'stand-out' on the doormat, but too little attention is often being paid to ensuring that direct marketing arrives at a time when the recipient is most likely to respond and buy."
The company suggests that marketers must pay attention not only to the appropriate targeting of direct mail campaigns but also be able to identify the triggers and times when their recipients are most likely to respond. This ideal situation requires smarter analysis of customer data, coupled with production facilities that can cost-effectively produce small batches of triggered, personalised mailings. According to Headley, "Service providers that can support this move toward event-triggered campaigns are starting to grow in number, and at least weekly triggered output is now affordably within the reach of most marketing departments."