With forecasts of a 70% decline across the year, for bricks and mortar retailers footfall predictions make sombre reading. And, for the sector generally, there’s no doubt that challenges lie ahead. Not least how to create the immersive experience shoppers crave, and the engagement needed, to extract maximum value from every single customer and transaction.
According to Ernst and Young, such “virtual customer intimacy” requires retailers to satisfy three key customer expectations: personalisation, prediction, and adaptability. When it comes to a communication channel that delivers on all of these, data-driven direct mail is proven.
Hyper-personalised messaging used to be the sole domain of the online channels. The temptation for marketers to bombard contacts with emails proved too great for many and 35% of them admit sending customers 3-5 emails per week.
But digital print has continued to evolve. Powered by data and made possible by sophisticated data-management and applications, unique pieces of direct mail triggered by user-actions and browsing habits can be printed on-demand to reflect not just their personal demographics, but their needs and preferences.
Shifting behaviours have been magnified by the pandemic. For big-ticket items the path to purchase has slowed with buyers typically taking 22 days to decide on a car, 19 days to select furniture and more than a week to deliberate over household appliances.
These changing behaviours highlight that speed, timing and being “in the moment” are key. Perhaps more important still is that these messages endure. There’s science and research that direct mail wins here too. It is proven to be read and re-read over 4 times on average, with 45% of mail staying in the home for more than 4 weeks. Compare that to the 13.4 seconds average time spent reading an email and it’s easy to see which is most likely to nudge and nurture customers along the customer journey and to elicit a response.
Smart consumers expect smart solutions and an omni-channel experience.
A data-driven direct mail piece, being tangible and tactile, helps re-create the multi-sensory experience of a store visit. But, with the addition of a simple QR code or more sophisticated image-recognition technology, can also include the seamless, frictionless ability to buy online.
To do this means retailers need to adopt smarter collaboration with experienced partners they trust with the management and accuracy of their data, with smarter automation for production, and a smarter utilisation of resource. The result? Marketing that is in the moment, using a channel that is of the moment, but with impact so much greater than momentary.