Local advertising ideas: how to attract customers with door drops

With direct mail continuing to grow in popularity, find out how technology, data analysis, and other clever tricks can deliver better results

When you hear of ‘door drop marketing’, are you really aware of its potential as a marketing medium? If you want to know how to attract customers, it may be time you revisited it – and here’s why.

How many other marketing channels offer 100% coverage of your desired geographical area? The answer is simple: none. Print, digital advertising, TV, radio, direct mail, experiential, sponsorship, exhibitions undoubtedly offer a combination of reach, cost and measurability benefits, but if you know where your target customers live you have, door drop mail can be a very powerful form of local advertising and personalised marketing.

Almost a third (30%) of adults see door drops every day. Of those, 40% interact with them, with 90% of that number going online and taking some action.

Door drops are also kept for an average of 38 days, according to research from Royal Mail MarketReach in its report The Private Life of Mail. It also reveals that 23% of all mail is shared around the household. Sounds compelling doesn’t it? If you’re convinced it’s worth a try, how can you make your campaign work as hard as possible and maximise your chance of finding new customers? Here, we share five key insights from some of the UK’s top marketing minds:

1. Target customers effectively

Use your customer data to target the most receptive recipients

What do you know about customers that have previously engaged with your brand? It seems obvious, but the clearer the picture you have of your existing customers, the more likely you’ll identify where to find new customers or repeat purchases. So says Helen Sawyer, client director of The Leaflet Company. “We work really closely with clients and their data to target the most likely receptive audience and even those who have previously engaged with a brand. And we now have the capability to analyse what works and with whom.”

Apply geodemographic data to find likeminded customers

By applying geodemographics, a system of identifying likely characteristics of people in an area based on their combined profile, businesses can target the households which are like the customers they’ve already got. Further analysis of digital data enables clients to understand how people are likely to behave and which specific products they might be looking to buy next.

This method of building effective customer profiles is key in enabling more relevant targeting.

Target precisely the moment when customers will buy

A key lesson to be taken from the world of take-away pizza marketing is to identify the sweet spot when consumers are most likely to purchase. Domino’s has honed this technique to the nth degree, says executive planning director at Havas helia Melanie Welsh. “Campaigns are planned 13 months in advance and everything is mapped out really carefully. It has identified its sweet spot as the week that people get paid, so it plans around that and books its door drops in accordingly.”

Sometimes Domino’s isn’t able to book the week it wants, so will go for the week after – but never the week before pay day. “I think that’s wonderful insight and very smart,” adds Welsh.

2. Optimise multi-channel marketing

Understand the customer journey

Borne out by results is the notion that understanding the customer journey – how they ultimately reached the point of purchase – is key. Incorporating digital advertising and door drop marketing into one campaign can amplify the message. Equally, a consumer may start to hear a brand name in local radio advertising before seeing a door drop mail.

“We all appreciate that marketing nearly always works better when you combine different channels – such as TV with digital, or email with push notifications,” says Havas helia’s Welsh. “The same applies to using door drops – the research is there; we know this is true.” A campaign which used email as a follow-up to direct mail achieved a 50% uplift on the overall response.

3. Refine your design

‘Personalise’ the message

“Our pizza clients are the masters of door drops. They do a huge amount of it and are experts at analysis,” says Sawyer. “They want to make sure that the door drops go out at the right time, in the right place, and to the right people.” While most smaller businesses won’t be able to do what pizza franchises do using personalised marketing, with hundreds of versions of the same leaflet, it’s worth creating a handful of different templates that allude to your knowledge of the local area.

The Salvation Army is another organisation that sought to personalise its marketing. It identified local war heroes from particular areas and featured them in its material, which made the mail “feel quite personal and pertinent to the person receiving it”, says Melanie Welsh, executive planning director at Havas helia. “That combination of creativity and relevance is something we try to encourage clients to think about.”

Get creative with the mail format

To make an immediate impression – and stand out from the crowd – you may need to get creative with your designs. Die-cutting a card to emphasise the contours of the logo, image or a motif is more likely to catch the eye and highlight the elements you want consumers to notice. If it’s a free product sample in a letterbox sized package, you might die-cut a window in the cardboard to show what’s inside.

“You’re always going to get better results if you really think about the creative options that are available to you,” says Welsh. Essentially, “it’s playing with the medium and therefore working harder when it comes to capturing attention”.

Be useful, relevant, informative – and elicit ‘enjoyment’

While all marketing campaigns endeavour to be informative and useful, ensuring this is true in practice can prove more difficult.

However, the power of relevant content cannot be underestimated. If your marketing materials are tailored effectively, receiving them in the post will be a positive experience for the consumer. You want them to feel something, an emotional response that elicits a form of engagement.

As Havas helia’s Welsh says, “‘Enjoyment’ is a really important factor to be thinking about in door drops, because how useful, relevant and information your door drops are will have a really big impact on whether people engage with it effectively.”

Get it right and your marketing materials will end up on the fridge door as a reminder and help you attract customers.

4. Use technology

Bring physical advertising to life

Thanks to new technology, the mailing that arrives on your doormat can now be brought to life, delivering an interactive and responsive experience.

QR codes started the process, offering the ability to scan two-dimensional barcodes to reveal additional information. But it is technology such as Blippar, the augmented reality mobile app and advertising platform, which has taken things to entirely new levels. By hovering a mobile device over an object, users reveal ‘magical’ animations and videos, interactive games or 3D images of two-dimensional pictures.

You need only look at the success of Pokemon Go to understand the potential of augmented reality – when done well. The app is reported to have been downloaded a staggering 15 million times, taking this kind of tech well and truly mainstream.

As Gavin Wheeler, CEO of CRM agency WDMP, says: “There is great work to be done with ever-more advanced technology. Visual discovery apps like Blippar can deliver an immersive digital experience as a response device,” in effect taking the place of phone numbers or URLs on door drop materials.

5. Be responsive

Use ‘tiered’ vouchers to build up a campaign

The use of time limited special offers, which create a sense of urgency and help move a customer to purchase, is well accepted. But one hit won’t always be enough, says The Leaflet Company’s Helen Sawyer. She points to the Bestway Group acquisition of The Co-operative Pharmacy in 2014. The company needed to inform customers that 780 of its stores would be converted to the new Well Pharmacy branding and reassure them that they could continue to get expert care.

They decided to use three-tiered vouchers which would have more longevity. Tiered marketing offers use milestones such as accumulating a certain amount of money spent, or points earned, over a period of time to encourage consumers to keep hold of leaflets and reuse them.

The result: voucher redemption rates increased “exponentially” with Sawyer describing the campaign as “fantastically successful”.

Measure the response, tweak, and go again

“The beauty of door drops today is how measurable they are,” says Sonia Hitzelberger, account development director of postal delivery company Whistl. “If you’re not evaluating correctly then you’re not using door drops to their full potential.” Including specific codes or trackable phone numbers is a “linear way” of measuring, adds Hitzelberger, “but we should consider using all calls or sales data and match this back to where the door drops went, such as what sales came through pre- and post-door drops so uplift can be measured.” It’s an approach Whistl’s clients have bought into, sharing data to enhance the marketing model. “It’s cyclical,” she concludes.

This article was produced in association with Royal Mail MarketReach. For the full collection of insights from the featured door drop specialists and to find out about the New User offer visit mailmen.co.uk/doordrops.

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