The option always exists, of course, to contact prospective data partners direct. If you don’t mind the additional administration, you save the brokerage fee and can discuss directly with your data partner the profile of your target customer. This will enable larger data owners to propose specific selection parameters likely to improve your response rate.

What are the pros and cons of advertising inserts in third- party mailings? The idea of ‘hitching a ride’ with a fully personalised customer mailing that has been sent to a group of customers who are known to be responsive to direct mail has its attractions. This is particularly relevant in the current environment, where so many purchase decisions are now being made in the home.

Nevertheless, this is not pure solus direct mail and there are limitations. For example, your customer recruitment message needs to be accommodated on a leaf let weighing no more than about 8g to qualify for the standard mailing insert fee. That’s fine if you are simply offering a voucher or if your brand proposition is simple, but this format does not permit you to propose a full range of products or services. Heavier inserts can be carried, but the price of access tends to rise in proportion to the weight of your advertising piece.

The advantage of an inserts programme however is that your total advertising cost


is much lower as standard 8g inserts normally cost no more than £27 per ‘000. The cost of testing is tiny too, with many mailers offering free tests of up to 50,000 inserts. Scalability is good too as a successful test of 100,000 or 200,000 inserts can be quickly scaled to many millions.

Most catalogue mailers accept inserts in outgoing mailings and just as with data swaps, there are specialist agencies and insert brokers who will assist in proposing and arranging a full programme of insert advertising. Amongst the largest of these brokers are UKLPS, The Specialist Works, Griffin Media, DM Focus, Medialab, EDIT and Media in Mind. Alternatively, you can contact catalogue mailers or their media divisions direct, to arrange inserts. There’s no rate saving in going direct as mailers honour their relationship with the agencies but speaking to the catalogue owner direct does sometimes help to get a better picture of what inserts availability looks like over the coming months.

The pandemic is causing major shifts in the tectonic plates of the media market. Newspapers and magazines have suffered badly during lockdown and sadly, many of the most reliable insert publications such as the Telegraph Group have chosen to increase their rates aggressively in order to compensate for their loss of advertising revenue. This is likely to have the opposite effect as media inserts are very marginal as a recruitment channel at the

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best of times and advertisers are now voting with their feet against the new rates being proposed as they are simply not affordable.

But across all new customer recruitment channels, there are developments which are immensely positive. The co- ops are having their best year for a long time and are ready to bend over backwards to help new clients. Royal Mail has declared that it is ready to give a sympathetic hearing to any direct mailer who can set out a plan for a substantial increase in their mailing volumes. Bear in mind though that incentive support is only likely to be available on incremental volumes. But it’s on these marginal volume decisions that mailers need a helping hand with costs. Royal Mail is ready to provide support where it is most needed.

Response rates to direct mail remain high too, as customers seem to have settled into a new habit of buying direct for the sheer choice and convenience that home delivery can offer. The evidence for this is very close to home for us at Scotts & Co. We chose to double our mailing volumes as we went into the pandemic and as a consequence, sales have risen by 40 per cent over the past year and the size of our customer database has increased by over 50 per cent. We emerge from this pandemic with renewed faith in direct mail as the most powerful and effective channel for new customer recruitment.

Direct Commerce |

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