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Direct mail numbers on the decline

17th Aug 2014
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The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has released statistics that suggest direct mail may soon have had its day.

All those pizza delivery flyers, credit card applications and kitchenware catalogues that the majority of UK households received through letterboxes day-in, day-out in 2012 amounted to a staggering 7.2 billion items in total. 

However, this number dropped 9% to 6.5 billion in 2013, and suggests that businesses are now turning to more imaginative means for marketing, even at local level.

The DMA’s ‘20th Annual Door Drop Industry Report 2014’ cites “improved targeting techniques, more sophisticated planning and greater integration with other media, which have resulted in greater accuracy and less wastage” as the core reasons for the drop in numbers.

Cost is another major factor in the decline, however, with the report highlighting that expenditure on door drop media decreased by 2.6% in 2013, to £259m.

“The use of door drops is more sophisticated than ever, enabled not only through enhancements in micro-targeting, measurement and multi-channel integration but also because of the ever-increasing understanding of the key role they play in the customer journey,” says Philip Ricketts, chair of the DMA Door Drop Board Committee and head of business development at MarketReach for Royal Mail.

“Even though volumes declined against a growth position in the prior year, in part driven by the continuing reduction with free newspaper circulation coverage, the future remains bright for the channel. Practitioners are continuing to innovate and provide ever-increasing sophistication in targeting and tracking methodology which increases the confidence and accountability for those using the medium.”

Other statistics from the report highlighted that on average, households received five items of direct mail per week through 2013 – a big decrease on the average of eight items for 2007. Environmental factors have also led to the size of mail items decreasing; average weight of a door drop piece fell by 17% from 18g in 2007 to 14.88g in 2013.

The DMA has regularly warned marketers of the ramifications of continuing to send unsolicited ‘direct mail’ to consumers that have stated they don’t want it, including potential fines from standards agencies for repeat offenders, as well as the likely loss of consumer trust.    

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