How often do you receive a letter? I don’t mean junk mail, but an actual letter with your name and address on it.
If you are anything like me, the answer will be “rarely”. In fact, if it wasn’t for my addiction to eBay and my ongoing subscription to Grow Your Own magazine, I think my postal life would have dried up completely.
The mail that used to land on my mat has been steadily vanishing over recent years. Letters are sent as emails; bills and bank statements are accessed online; and holiday postcards have been replaced by Facebook check-ins and photos.
With that in mind I am confident that, unless there is an election looming, anything that drops through my letterbox can safely embark on a non-stop trip to the recycling bin. Even the takeaway leaflets are of no interest now that I can jump onto the JustEat or Deliveroo apps and order food at the touch of a button.
And yet, estate agents continue to use direct mail as a channel for generating leads. Don’t get me wrong, I have had some amazing success with direct mail in the past. It wasn’t unusual to get a response rate in excess of 2.5% five years ago. There was even sufficient response data to test the effectiveness of door drops vs posted mail.
They both had their benefits but, as with anything, there are fashions; and as the popularity of door drop grew, so the response rate dropped. Companies would then adopt the more expensive alternative to bring in leads, and so the cycle continued.
The 101 of direct mail though was messaging – if you had something loud and frivolous to say, then door drop was the channel for you. Sitting proudly exposed on a mat without so much as an envelope to cover its modesty, was the right place for a stand-out mailer to be. However, if yours was a serious message, then an addressed letter was more appropriate.
Because ultimately, marketing is a lot about the company you keep. So, if your brand is in with a pile with bills and bank statements, it is given greater consideration than it would amongst the free newspaper and some pizza flyers.
I was originally recruited into property marketing from with world of publishing. This wasn’t such a leap, as estate agent marketing at the time consisted of creating a large book of property, and mailing a copy to all existing contacts. It quickly became apparent that this would not be my job for very long.
Of course, there is the old argument that these magazines sit on the recipients’ coffee tables and lots of people read them. If that were actually the case though, living room furniture around the country would be groaning under the weight of mountains of property related reading matter. Perhaps IKEA would have grabbed the opportunity to launch a reinforced range of coffee tables… but they have not.
This is because people do not place the same importance on their post that they once did. Most things that are worth reading can be communicated digitally – in a way that is quicker, greener, and cheaper.
A well-known phrase, often attributed to Henry Ford, states that “if you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always got”.
When it comes to direct mail, however, this is certainly no longer the case.