category archives: Direct Mail

There’s Nothing Wrong with “Dear Valued Customer!”

How do you react when a letter from your bank addresses you as “Dear Valued Customer?” Does it make you feel valued? Probably not! Still, we readily admit, there are many instances when a generic salutation may be the best way to go.

After more than 22 years of experience in developing bank communications and working closely with bank data files, MKP communications inc. has gained a unique perspective on the pros and cons of personalized vs. standardized salutations.

For many banks, the address block of a data file becomes a catch-all for additional information including legal designations like “custodian” or “incompetent” or “deceased.” We think “Dear Valued Customer” starts to sound pretty good when compared to “Dear James Smith Incompetent!”

Another possible pitfall relates to the quality or accuracy of the input. It’s not uncommon for customer information to be entered incorrectly when accounts are opened. Any errors might appear on the envelope (or through a window), but repeating those errors in a salutation just exacerbates the problem.

With business databases, we find that few banks are confident they can supply clean, updated contact names. Even Private Clients and Commercial Bank customers, who tend to receive highly personalized service from a Relationship Manager, can present a challenge because their address information is not systematically and centrally maintained.

One size doesn’t necessarily fit all when it comes to salutations. Some banks prefer to address their customers by name, despite the downside. At MKP, we know how to programmatically support this strategy, and we implement it on many of our communication assignments. However, we’ve learned that most customers are indifferent to the salutation on a bank communication. It’s the message that matters to customers, not how the message is addressed.

So remember, Dear Valued Reader: it’s ok to use a generic salutation for your mass customer communications!

MKP communications inc. is a New York City based communications company that delivers spot-on strategy, smart, fresh creative, combined with flawless execution, for financial services clients.

Yes, it’s a digital world, but guess what? DM is becoming the hot new choice.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the death of direct mail (DM) has been greatly exaggerated. After years of dire predictions that DM will wither in our electronic age, response rates are growing and new DM technologies are making the mailbox the new place to be. Here are a few reasons why you should be adding new, cutting-edge DM to your marketing plans:

  1. It’s more targetable – technology is changing the landscape of direct mail. Over the years, marketers have collected vast amounts of data on consumers and the ability to deliver targeted messages via direct mail has improved significantly. This means that marketers no longer have to cast a wide net with a single offer. They now have the ability to send personalized offers that resonate with the consumer, improving the likelihood of response.
  2. It’s more cost effective –Improvements in printing techniques, such as 4-color digital, allow marketers to more cost effectively print short runs for smaller, targeted campaigns. In addition, pre-sort services, commingling opportunities and the ability to drive mail deep into the mail system all save time and reduce postage costs.
  3. It’s more personal – according to the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA’s) first attitudinal print tracking report, 74% of surveyed consumers reported that personalization in DM is important to them. These same consumers feel that direct mail affords more security and privacy than digital communications. And it’s no wonder – just look at the recent spate of security breaches and phishing scams that make consumers more leery of opening unsolicited emails. David Gaull, Director of Operations for MKP communications inc. says that “direct mail has another advantage over email, and that is the ability to make it stand out in a consumer’s mail box. Marketers can create direct mail that is intriguing and makes recipients want to open. In addition, mail can work in conjunction with digital initiatives, either pre- or post delivery, driving a consumer to a website for more information and for fulfillment.”
  4. It’s immediate – according to the DMA’s 2014 statistical fact book, 70% to 80% of consumers polled say they open most of their mail, including solicitations. The USPS reports that 38.4% to 62.8% of household heads—a median of 45.4%—report “immediately” reading direct mail. Compare that to the emails languishing in your spam filter. Looked at them lately?
  5. It meets legal mandates – While there has been progress in allowing alternate electronic delivery of legally mandated communications, customers must opt-in to receive notices electronically. The challenge of managing multiple delivery options means that financial service providers quite often default to direct mail to ensure they are in compliance with the myriad regulatory mandates.
  6. It works – The DMA recently reported that the average response rates for direct mail have climbed to 4.4% for both B2B and B2C mailings—considerably higher than industry expectations, and surging past electronic mail’s miserly response rate of just 0.12%. In addition, the report indicates that that the cost per lead of direct mail is in-line with print and pay-per-click, and significantly less than telemarketing.

There is a very healthy place for DM in the marketing mix. The savvy marketer develops marketing programs that reach customers and prospects where they are, and offers multiple options for responding.

MKP communications inc. is a New York City based communications company that delivers spot-on strategy, smart, fresh creative, combined with flawless execution, for financial services clients.