Mail is for life, not just for Christmas


In the UK, we buy more greetings cards than any other country, at an average of 33 per person. Some traditions remain strong, and marking an occasion with a greetings card is clearly one of them.

According to the Greetings Card Association, here in the UK we bought an estimated 1 billion Christmas cards last year, in addition to those cards bought through digital businesses such as Moonpig.

Ryan Higginson, Vice President & UK/ROI Country Leader, Global SMB Solutions, Pitney Bowes, explains that in a world in which we send and receive 269 billion emails annually – a figure forecast to rise to around 320 billion by 2021 –  the value and sentiment behind the buying and sending of greetings cards remains strong, particularly at this time of the year.

A study from the Royal Mail found that 80% of people would rather receive a traditional Christmas card than an e-card. While e-cards are fun and creative, there’s something so much more fulfilling about taking stock at the end of a long day, sitting down and opening printed cards wishing you seasonal greetings from near and far.

For businesses, sending a personalised card through the mail to celebrate the festive season is a credible way of engaging with clients and building a relationship. It’s thoughtful, valued and creates impact.

And it’s a great way to stand out in a crowded marketplace: consumers are supposedly exposed to around 10000 brand messages each day and are said to have a concentration span lasting less than that of a goldfish.

Physical mail isn’t just for Christmas, of course: it brings an authenticity to customer engagement strategies at all times of the year. It has become more appreciated, memorable and purposeful than ever, and builds a unique relationship between the sender and the recipient. Here are some key reasons why you should integrate physical mail into your communication strategy in 2019:

  1. It achieves high open rates:a DMA study found that 57% of respondents open physical post compared with an average email open rate of 15%, with average click through of 8%.
  2. It has staying power:Recipients keep their post, on average, for 38 days, whereas 51% of emails are deleted within two seconds.
  3. Its tangibility adds value:a study from Joann Peck and Suzanne Shue found people value something they can see or touch 24% more than something they can just see.
  4. You can ensure high levels of personalisation: you can personalise mail to increase response rates – not just the letter or brochure, but print a targeted message on the back of the envelope. A highly personalised customer experience is memorable, differentiates a brand and generates stand out.
  5. People trust it:fake news and phishing scams have dented our trust in digital mail. Printed mail is trustworthy, authentic and credible, reaches its destination and doesn’t get caught up in Junk inboxes.
  6. It introduces your business and generates action:Research has found that 79% of consumers said they would act on direct mail immediately, compared with only 45% who would do the same with email. A study from IPA Touchpoints found 38% of people buy or order something after reading direct mail.
  7. It influences the way consumers feel about your brand:a Royal Mail study found that 57% of people who received mail from businesses said they felt more positively about the brand.
  8. It’s memorable: direct mail has a recall rate of 75%, compared with a 44% recall rate after seeing a digital advertisement. Physical mail is memorable – perhaps because it’s read at its recipient’s own convenience, in a less crowded space.
  9. Unlike emails, you don’t need explicit consent to send it:but you do need to gain legitimate interest. This gives businesses more choice when it comes to engaging with their audiences and ensuring they’re GDPR-compliant.
  10. It’s accurate and measurable: today’s digitally-connected postal meters are built on SaaS platforms and integrated with mobile apps. Some have in-built address validation software and tracking options, to remove the complexity of different postal services and help you make sure your mail reaches its recipient, with no budget wasted on undeliverable post.

Digital and print needn’t be exclusive – they work together, integrating and complementing each other to create impact and drive action. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve found myself a few times this holiday season receiving a company’s brochure through my letterbox followed by an email in my inbox.

Sometimes I might go to their website to find out more; maybe I’ll page through a ‘What’s On?’ brochure of theatre listings, and book tickets online.  This physical and digital integration extends to technologies, too, as powerful software platforms become the driving force behind physical technologies such as mailing platforms, making them work faster and more efficiently.

Print’s staying power is one of its most endearing qualities. Combined with accurate data, creative design and innovation in technology, it quickly becomes one of the most successful channels a business has to hand. And for me, one of the most enjoyable.

Today’s connected consumer draws information from a diversity of platforms, but the value of physical mail remains.