Why Print & Mail Is Critical to Effective Multichannel CCM
Companies considered to offer the best customer experience report 4.4x higher revenue growth than those considered to have the worst.
And yet, 80% of brands believe they deliver a superior customer experience while only 8% of their customers agree.
The opportunity for competitive advantage lies in building a better customer experience; and a key pillar of customer experience is good communication. This article discusses why print and mail is critical to optimising that communication, within a multichannel system.
- When physical mail is necessary
- Print vs digital open and response rates
- Print as a way into digital
- The cost of choosing the wrong channel
- Optimising your print and mail
Years of digital transformation efforts have yielded extraordinary convenience and speed to businesses and their customers, but they’ve also unexpectedly proven the value of printed communications.
In our work, we have seen that businesses employing a mix of physical and digital in their communications consistently outperform those relying simply on digital. In this article, we run through the arguments for print and mail as a key part of your multichannel customer communications.
This is not a case of print versus digital, it’s a case of print and digital.
When physical mail is necessary
There are some unavoidable reasons for using physical mail in your channel mix. The hard facts that are not going away any time soon.
1. When it’s legally required
Some regulations mandate using print for communications. For example, the kinds of governmental forms and legal letters, like planning applications and property deeds, that need to be hand delivered.
2. Offering choice to customers
In both private and public sectors, if your organisation is committed to providing a superior customer experience it’s critical that you offer multiple channels to interact with your customers. Certain demographics of customers prefer mail, either because print is what they are used to or because physical mail feels more “real”.
3. Geographical limitations
Some communications are only intended for people in a certain area or neighbourhood. For example, local authorities or NHS bodies who only want to target citizens in their local area.
For marketing communications, some businesses only want to advertise to physical addresses close by such as fitness centres, hospitality or other in-person service providers. While geolocating with SMS exists, it is limited and does not have the proven response rate of print.
Print vs digital open rates and engagement
The softer, more intangible arguments for using printed mail lie in people’s different subconscious responses to physical and digital stimuli. After more than a decade of daily use of both, the research is clear. Physical mail has better response rates than digital channels.
Why? The benefits are proven by neuroscientific studies – mail is more memorable, more engaging and longer lasting than its digital equivalents like email and social media posts.
Memorability and engagement
Research run by Royal Mail’s Marketreach Neuro-Insight used steady state topography (SST) on email and Facebook users to identify the parts of the brain active at a given time when presented with mail, email or social media posts.
When testing long-term memorability, it showed that mail is 49% more memorable than email and 35% more memorable than social media.
When testing engagement – i.e. how involved people are with the stimulus they are experiencing – mail was found to be 33% more engaging than email and 35% more than social media.
Mail is 49% more memorable than email and 35% more memorable than social media. It is also 33% more engaging than email and 35% more than social media.
The findings above are not just nice-to-knows, it’s been proven that memorability and engagement also drive action. This is true for advertising but also transactional mail, which is called Customer Mail by Royal Mail.
This includes mail items sent to a named customer with whom there is an existing relationship. Tangible pieces that maintain the brand-customer relationship such as:
- Financial statements
- Bills and invoices
- Service agreements
- Renewal reminders
- Welcome packs
- Loyalty programme rewards and other.
According to JICMail (The Joint Industry Committee for Mail, which delivers industry-standard audience measurement data for mail), 34% of all addressed Customer Mail leads to any commercial action, 6% to a purchase and 19% to an action online.
The same research found that 69% of Customer Mail is read and 52% filed for reference.
This plays out in practice. For example, debt companies report a lower response rate with digital channels. When it’s something as uncomfortable to deal with as debt, it’s easy for customers to ignore or claim they missed a message or email. In this case, it’s financially critical for debt companies to use print and mail.
Print opens the door into digital
The higher open and engagement rates for physical mail we noted earlier make it a very good way to begin a relationship with customers. It grabs attention and holds it so is useful for onboarding with welcome packs which can then introduce other digital channels for two-way communication.
While print is more engaging and drives action; digital channels offer convenience and speed. It’s critical that multiple channels, both physical and digital, are available to your staff and to the customer depending on the result they are trying to achieve. A phygital approach applies the benefits of both.
Because print is proven to be more engaging and drives action better than digital, it works well as a transactional channel for things like statements, bills, and pension and insurance policy updates. It also offers different tiers of costs with Royal Mail products like Mailmark Economy, which means your business can save money after working out what communications are mandated to land at destination in 2 days and which ones are not as urgent and could land in 5 days.
The cost of choosing the wrong channel
When your business is sending communications in order to elicit payments – invoices, statements or utility bills – it doesn’t matter if one channel is cheaper than another if the customer does not take action.
In these cases, not responding triggers an expensive customer journey of chasing payments, either over the phone or handing to external debt collection agencies. When it typically costs a contact centre £10 per call, and agency charges could be another 30-40% on top of what is owed.
Since print is proven to have higher open rates as well as higher engagement and response rates, employing print in the right circumstances can save on costs too.
The secret to effective multichannel communications is not whether one channel is better than the other, it’s about using the right one for the job.
Optimising your print and mail
While print and mail as a channel for the right situation can save on costs; with postal optimisations – for example, sending letters in bulk – you can minimise them even further.
Let’s assume you already employ print and mail in your multichannel communications. There are many ways to optimise your spend and make significant savings on post. Royal Mail provides discounts to bulk customers, and that’s where services like ours come in.
Take a look at our Print Solutions and see how much you could save.