Study from WARC & Royal Mail Marketreach reveals how mail commands media attention

• Nearly two-thirds (63%) of recipients say mail attracts their undivided attention

WARC, the global authority on marketing effectiveness, unveiled the results of an in-depth study conducted in partnership with Marketreach, the marketing authority on commercial mail, on the relationship between attention and mail to reflect the true power of the mail’s engagement as a marketing channel.

For the first time, following ground-breaking research, ‘The Attention Advantage: Exploring the impact of mail in an attention-scarce world’ report reveals how much attention people are giving their mail across different mail types, the value of this attention, and the role of mail in comparison to other media and within the media mix.

Patrick Malone, senior media planner, Marketreach, commented: “As we stand on the cusp of a new era in advertising, one marked by evolving technologies, shifting consumer behaviours and heightened privacy concerns, this research paper offers strategic guidance and actionable recommendations to navigate the intricate terrain of advertising in the context of Attention and Mail.” 

Paul Stringer, managing editor, research & advisory, WARC, said: “In a world where the battle for attention is becoming ever harder to win, we’ve found that not only is mail highly effective at generating attention, it’s also one of the most cost-efficient channels at delivering against this objective. This is a good time for marketers to reconsider the role of mail in the media mix.”

Mail is one of the most effective and efficient channels for capturing consumer attention. It commands very high dwell-times as consumer needs and behaviours evolve: people’s lives are more centred on the home; there is a demand for more personally relevant messaging; and there’s a shift towards well-trusted brands that communicate in ways that feel honest and authentic. 

New research by Marketreach and Blue Yonder outlined in the study revealed that people are highly focused when looking at a piece of mail. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents claimed it attracted their undivided attention.

 WARC and Royal Mail Marketreach study 2023

In ‘Attention Study’, recent analysis by JICMAIL (Joint Industry Committee for Mail) showed that, over four weeks, the highest levels of attention recorded by a 1,000-strong panel was for Business Mail (150 seconds), followed by Direct Mail (108 seconds), and Partially Addressed Mail (65 seconds).

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Additionally, JICMAIL’s research shows that mail is one of the most cost-efficient channels for capturing consumer attention.

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Mail has an attention advantage and is a powerful addition to the media mix: Over 80% of mail delivered in an envelope is opened

Mail stimulates a physical as well as a mental interaction, creating higher levels of engagement. Over 80% of items that have an envelope are opened. The average piece of mail is viewed just over twice in the week of receipt, and 58% is retained for future reference.

Lucy Halley, executive head of strategy, Havas CX Helia, said: “Mail’s power to feel valuable physically in our hands is not something to underestimate. It’s interesting that this perspective is true even for younger audiences… They live more of their lives online than older people do, so physical experiences become super important to them.”

Mail’s high level of personalisation, its extended dwell times, and the fact that “the ad is the medium” mean that added to the media mix, mail is also highly complementary to other marketing channels and can act as an amplifier. 

Halley added: “By deploying mail strategically at key moments, we can witness moments of magic throughout the customer experience. Considering mail in these moments can be really powerful.”

Mail can deliver significant uplifts across every level of the marketing funnel: Mail persuaded 16% of recipients to consider the brand, leading 5% to a transaction.

As customer journeys become increasingly less linear, stimulating intent and providing a drive-to-purchase enables brands to increase their share of current demand. 

The research revealed that the average piece of mail persuaded 16% of recipients to consider the brand, with 9% saying it stimulated an intent-rich action such as visiting a website or shop. Mail can also ‘seal the deal’. On average, 5% of items led to a transaction.

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‘The Attention Advantage: Exploring the impact of mail in an attention-scarce world’ study is based on research by Marketreach and Blue Yonder involving 1,475 pieces of mail. The findings, as well as JICMAIL data, were rigorously analysed by WARC to offer valuable insights that have the potential to reshape the strategies and practices of advertisers, marketers, media and communication professionals alike.

A complimentary copy of the report, which includes detailed analysis of media and mail’s attention, case studies, expert commentary and actionable takeaways, is available to download here.   

See Also: WARC: The Future of Strategy 2023 report finds optimism levels are lower as tough economic conditions squeeze client budgets

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