The Return of Snail Mail Staff

Updated · Jun 28, 2001

by Staff

Direct mail has been determined to be the most effective method for reaching customers, according to a survey released by Pitney Bowes. In a collaborative study with management consulting firm Peppers and Rogers Group, more than 350 U.S. households with annual incomes greater than $35,000 were surveyed via telephone, yielding the positive responses to direct mail.

The survey, consisting of seven questions, explored consumer opinions on the communication channels used to build customer relationships, as well as common beliefs and opinions about direct mail and perceptions of direct mail usage to foster relationships in nine industries.

The results concluded that electronic-based communication and marketing tools, such as e-mail and the Internet, are not as effective for building customer relationships as the more traditional direct mail. Direct mail currently accounts for 65 percent of the total mail received by a household, up from 56 percent in 1987. As household incomes increase, the amount of direct mail received also increases.

“This research shows that direct mail does the best job of providing consumers with the information they want, when they want it, and how they want to receive it,” said Kevin Weiss, president, customer marketing, Pitney Bowes Global Mailing Systems. “Effective customer relationship management is critical in acquiring and retaining customers. While e-mail and the Internet are important communication and research tools, our report indicates that they are not perceived as valuable as direct mail in building and sustaining customer relationships.”

Key findings of the study included:

  • Thirty-four percent said direct mail contributes most to establishing a relationship with them and keeping them informed and involved with a business, followed by print ads (30 percent), TV (25 percent), radio (5 percent), e-mail (4 percent), Internet (2 percent), and telemarketing (0 percent).
  • Direct Mail is effective at building customer relationships because it is familiar (95 percent), convenient (94 percent), interactive (93 percent), universal (93 percent), private (87 percent) and personalized (84 percent).
  • Consumers value organizations that make an effort to communicate and build a relationship with them through the mail (57 percent), up 10 percent since a 1998 study.
  • Forty-five percent of the respondents said that if they received a targeted direct mailing they would mention the company to their friends. Forty-four percent said they would call if they needed more information, 43 percent would open a second piece of mail sent by the company, 39 percent would further investigate the company on the Internet. Twenty-two percent would buy something being advertised.
  • Eighty-two percent of the recipients enjoy the control in choosing when to open a mail piece, 78 percent appreciate its non-intrusive nature, 65 percent feel positive about its security, and 56 percent feel more involved with an organization that stays in touch using the mail.

“It is critical for companies to realize that CRM is not a simple tool to be installed, but a process by which a company can build solid relationships with their customers. Direct mail has the potential to enable companies to effectively build that relationship, especially when companies use the information from their customers to provide more customized services either by mail or other forms of interaction,” said Don Peppers, partner with Peppers and Rogers Group.

Headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., Peppers and Rogers Group assists clients in the operational implementation of their customer relationship initiatives; offers training and e-learning programs, research studies, workshops and keynote presentations; and helps clients locate and evaluate CRM professionals.

Stamford, Conn.-based Pitney Bowes Inc. serves over 2 million businesses of all sizes through dealer and direct operations globally.

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