Direct Mail Combats Consumer Distrust of Commercial Messages Caused by Fake News

31st August 2018

The recent fake news scandals and spreading of mis-information on social media has eroded consumer trust in commercial and political messages, and as a result, consumers are increasingly wary of information they read on the net.

Yet according to the latest research from Royal Mail MarketReach direct mail has been found to be one of the most trust-worthy mediums of marketing communications, with 87% of people surveyed considering it to be more ‘believable’ than email, compared to only 48% who consider email to be believable.

The Mail in Uncertain Times survey found mail scored very highly in the key components of trust – better yet, the medium itself can impact positively on the perceived trustworthiness of the communication sent.

The data suggests strongly that mail is more powerful than email in fostering factors that engender trust. While email is seen as quick, mail is seen as more important, more secure and more believable.

This ability of mail to convey believability has also been reflected in some recent research into communications relating to the 2017 General Election. When participants were asked which medium they felt best reflected the real views of the sender, mail came out on top.

The Royal Mail report suggests that the increase in trust in mail may also be the driver behind positive behavioural responses to mail. For example, in the year between 2015 and 2016, the proportion of the total sample claiming to have bought something as a result of receiving mail rose from 26.7% to 36.1%.

Building and maintaining brand trust should be a top priority for every organisation. The more trust a brand has, the more their communications will be trusted, and the more they will benefit from greater engagement and traction too.

The recent Edelman Trust Barometer (2016) showed how important trust is in generating sales. It found that 48% of global consumers had chosen not to buy from a company because they didn’t trust them.

As consumers are becoming exposed to a greater number of advertising messages, it has become more important for marketers to cut through the noise and create campaigns that reach the right audience at the right time. With new programmatic technology, direct mail is now able to be more personal, targeted and customised.

Brands can use programmatic to automatically send direct mail to customers who have browsed their online stores but not made a purchase. The new technology allows marketers to tie the delivery of physical mail to actual consumer behaviour, enabling them to craft a targeted offer to a non-converting web visitor often within 48 hours.

Highly targeted direct mail is received more favourably by consumers. According to the IPA’s Touch Points survey they spend on average 16 minutes reading and engaging with it. The IPA suggests that high response rates, of more than 1% for direct mail (100 times higher than digital display ads), can be correlated to time spent with the mailer.

Many suggest the reason why direct mail is cutting through the noise and combatting consumer apathy in a post-truth era is because it has a unique attribute – quite simply words printed on paper are perceived to be more credible.

When a consumer receives something that has been printed, and perhaps signed, it is perceived to ‘embody truth’, building reassurance and adding credibility to a brand’s message, according to the MarketReach survey.

Mail is particularly valued for respecting consumers’ privacy. When sensitive or confidential information needs to be communicated, print is deemed intrinsically more trustworthy than digital equivalents. Sealed envelopes reassure recipients that the message is credible and secure.

Physical mail is growing in credibility and importance because, as opposed to digital methods, it is solid, tactile, and consumers can actually hold the communication in their hands – they can feel it, store it, share it, and come back to it. This is one of the key differences that enables it to stand out from other channels.

Here at Howard Hunt we believe that if the message is important or worthwhile and you really want the consumer to be sure to open, read, and engage with and believe it, then mail is the best way to deliver it.

For more information on how you can use direct mail to promote brand identity and trust, speak to one of our experts on 01322 414 000 or click here to complete our contact form.