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Consumer survey Results Reveal Direct Mail Still Preferred

December 1, 2011

DALLAS- Dec, 1, 2011- Epsilon Targeting, a leading provider of consumer information for targeted marketing solutions, released the “2011 Channel Preference Study,” which shows that direct mail continues to deliver as consumers’ preferred means of receiving marketing messages even through the economic turmoil, technology advances and channel proliferation.
The 2011 research shows that despite direct mail’s reputation for being “old school” or expensive, it is the top choice of U.S, and Canadian consumers for the receipt of brand communications in almost every category, ranging from health to household products, to household services, insurance and financial services, including credit cards offers. The preference for direct mail also extends to the 18-34 year old demographic.

Key findings from the study include:

• 36 percent of U.S. consumers and 40 percent of Canadians said direct mail is the preferred channel to receive financial services information;
• 26 percent of U.S. consumers and 30 percent of Canadians said direct mail is more trustworthy than e-mail;
• 50 percent of U.S. consumers and 48 percent of Canadians said they pay more attention to postal mail than e-mail;
• 60 percent of U.S. consumers and 64 percent of Canadians said they enjoy checking the mailbox for postal mail, highlighting an emotional connection;
• 30 percent of U.S. consumers said they’re receiving more mail that interests them compared to a year ago, and just 50 percent (down from 63 percent in 2010) said more information is sent to them in the mail—indicating marketers are improving targeting efforts; and
• the perception that reading e-mail is faster declined among U.S. e-mail account holders to 45 percent in 2011 (from 47 percent in 2010), suggesting clogged inboxes are draining time.

Epsilon Targeting’s channel preference study also reveals 66 percent growth in U.S. consumers’ use of Facebook in the past year to research and review consumer product information. In response to an annual Epsilon Targeting survey of consumer channel preferences, 10 percent of U.S. respondents said they used Facebook for consumer product information, a jump from 6 percent in 2010.

At the same time, roughly a third of U.S. and Canadian survey respondents (33 percent U.S. and 31 percent Canadian) said they don’t find ads on social media sites useful.

The study is based on completed surveys from 2,226 U.S. consumers and 2,574 Canadian consumers. In-depth information from the study is provided in a report—titled “The Formula for Success: Preference and Trust.”

“Consumers use and trust certain communications channels more than others. This means that marketers need to understand which channels resonate most at various points in the consumer purchase cycle and incorporate a cross-channel strategy that leverages data and technology to communicate on a one-to-one basis,” said Warren Storey. “Our study suggests that brands should use a variety of mediums to build relationships, starting with trusted channels like direct mail, then layering the message to re-enforce it through other channels.”

The 2011 Channel Preference Study also found:
• 37 percent of U.S. consumers and 29 percent of Canadians use TV daily to get consumer product information, down from 43 percent and 35 percent respectively in 2010;
• the least trustworthy channels are social media and blogs, achieving only 6 percent trust among U.S. consumers and 5 percent among Canadians;
• the number of U.S. respondents who said internet use “is more anonymous” declined to 8 percent in 2011 from 11 percent in 2010;
• personally addressed mail is greatly preferred to unaddressed, with numbers in the insurance category showing a 31 percent to 5 percent gap;
• 34 percent of U.S. consumers who prefer email over mail cited “saving on paper” as the main reason, up strongly from 21 percent in 2010; and
• in 2011, 39 percent of U.S. consumers claimed awareness of group deal web sites, lagging behind the 53 percent awareness level among Canadian counterparts.
“The key learning from this study is that marketers should recognize consumer preferences and establish a trustworthy relationship across a variety of channels,” said Storey. “Consumers appreciate brands that pay attention to their interests and stated preferences.”

Epsilon Targeting has now completed three surveys on the topic of consumer channel preference to generate trending data. The August 2011 research was preceded by an initial study in February 2008 as well as a survey in February 2010.

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You Can Save Money – Use Mobile Barcodes!

Great news for anyone sending direct mail. The United States Postal Service is dropping its rates – if you use mobile barcodes like QR Codes, Microsoft TAG, or JagTag, that is.

Starting July 1, the USPS is offering a temporary promotion for presorted and automation First-Class and standard mail cards, letters and flats. All you have to do is use two-dimensional mobile barcodes or equivalent print technology such as watermarks or tags. The promotion is a follow-up to the USPS’s highly successful mobile barcode promotion last summer.

This year’s promotion will run from July 1, 2012, through August 31, 2012.

To be eligible, each mail pieces must have a mobile barcode either on the outside or inside of its contents. The barcode must use for marketing purposes (codes used for POSTNET or machinable serial numbers don’t count). When scanned, the code must lead the recipient to a web page that allows the recipient to access a personalized URL or to purchase a product or service. In both cases, the web site must be mobile-optimized.

How much can you save? Eligible mail pieces receive a price break of 2%. So if you’ve been wanting to jump into the world of mobile barcode promotions or if you’ve been kicking yourself for not participating in the USPS discount promotion last summer, here’s your chance.

In addition to the USPS’s requirements for this specific promotion, you may want to use the best practices accepted by the mobile marketing industry to get the best results:
. Don’t just send people to your company URL. Make sure the codes serve a specific
marketing purpose.
. Offer recipients an incentive for scanning the code.
. Provide unique mobile content that provides high value to the person scanning the code.
. Make the code easy to read (for example, use URL shorteners, make sure there is sufficient
white space around the code, and don’t use high-gloss substrates with distracting reflections).
. Provide instructions for the non-mobile-barcode initiated.
. Test, test, test – just like you would any other campaign.