April 27, 2012
Multichannel marketing agency RAPP Germany commissioned
global measurement firm Nielsen to conduct a study of the effects of
different offline and online direct mailing techniques as part of the consumer
purchase decision process.
Approximately 1,800 consumers in Germany and the United States participated in
the study, which employed marketing mailings form a fictitious travel agency.
The direct mailings tested: standard envelope, printed envelope, self-mailer,
wrapper, and email. Using these various marketing vehicles, the effectiveness
of a personalized vacation offer was tested amongst two groups of
recipients—interested and not interested.
The results confirm the unique advertising effects of the envelope -- that an
envelope reinforces marketing efforts and messaging, that personalization is an
effective technique to get the envelope opened, and that consumers value
physical mail, even in this digital era.
- Printed envelopes
-- manufactured custom to marketers' specifications -- were opened
and their contents read by 84.5% of recipients, making them the most opened
advertising tested. Standard envelopes were opened and read by 75.6% of
respondents, self-mailers 71.4%, and wrappers read and opened by 71.2%. Email
had an 80% open rate, making it second to the physical envelope in open rate.
- The Nielsen study demonstrates that “a
high-value direct mailing in a creatively designed and printed envelope alone
is still not enough to guarantee the success of a direct marketing campaign.”
Personalization of the envelope proved key:
who received non-personalized marketing mailings were three times more likely
to throw the mail in the trash or delete it, compared to recipients who
received an individualized mailing. In addition, individually tailored
messages played a key role in the consumer purchase decision funnel -- 44% of
interested recipients of an individualized direct mailing said they would
investigate the travel offer further online, compared to the 36.6% of
recipients of non-individualized mailings.
- Recommendations have proven to be
the most important factors of influence when making a purchase decision. According
to the survey,in general, marketing messages mailed via a personalized printed
envelope are more apt to be passed along to friends and family -- in fact,
twice as often as emails (14.2% v. 7.8%). The testing of the fictitious travel
offer proved this true: 13.1% of the interested recipients said that they
would pass on content they read in the individualized offers to friends and
family —while just 9.1% who received generic offerings said they would do the
- Interestingly, older respondents
(55–65 years) valued an email advertisement more than the younger target group
(16–34 years). Nielsen states that 63.2% of 16–34 year olds see emails
“disappearing in the flood of advertisements they receive,” and thus the
individually addressed printed envelope is valued very highly by the younger
target group. Younger target groups want the best of both worlds: a real
envelope and the flexibility of individualized emails.