CRM goes full circle with the return of snail mail

smartphone data messaging

Do you want to engage your customers and bring your CRM strategies into the 21st century? What better way than good, old-fashioned snail mail?

That’s according to Paperplanes Founder Dan Dunn and Digital Director Mark Wilding. Email is old news and the new way (sort of) to engage customers more effectively is through good old-fashioned direct mail.

“A lot of people look at mail as some kind of dinosaur and it should remain in the past, but what we’ve seen is that the response rates are holding up,” said Wilding. “It’s the opposite end of the spectrum compared to email. With every digital medium it reaches saturation very quickly purely because it is cheap to do.

“What you get is companies embracing digital, scaling quickly, hitting saturation point and then cut-through starts to suffer. Email is now in the same place direct mail was fifteen years ago.”

Back in the 90s, during the days when surfing the internet was as rare as actually going on a surfing holiday, receiving an email was massive news. On the other hand, trying to see your welcome mat through the sea of junk mail arriving at your doorstep was a tough job.

Back in the 90s it was a pleasure to receive an email and a chore to receive a letter. How the tables have turned…


Paperplanes has a relatively simple approach to making direct mail effective. By marrying the digital footprint of a consumer, with the physical address of said consumer, digital triggers can be placed to set into action one of parent company GI Insight’s digital print presses. Within 48 hours the customer can have a personalized piece of mail on the doorstep.

It’s an amalgamation of the old world and the new, tying automation and intelligence of the digital economy to nostalgia of a simpler time. Tracking the customer journey around the website during the consideration stage of the journey is a critical step in engaging digital principles, which in turn creates the customer experience which so many businesses are aiming to achieve.

Just like watching a customer wander around a high street store, there are buying signals which should trigger actions. The principle of automated customer engagement and retention in an email context has been around for quite a while, but returning to direct mail can offer a twist which could be appreciated.

“Traditionally, two of the simplest models you can apply to a loyalty programme is recency/frequency or high-loyalty/high-value, which if you then apply that to the online space you start to see the problem” said Dunn. “Emails are blasted out to the database constantly; they haven’t tailored the offers to the customers, or applied any type of personalization.

The problem with email is its price. Yes, cheaper is generally better for any business, but the fact it is so cheap it has created a tidal wave of emails which hit our inbox every day. How many times have you missed an email because it was hidden in a mess of generic newsletters or messages from foreign princes offering you a lost fortune?

“When you apply the simple models above you may find 70% of the value of your business lies in 10% of your customers, therefore they should be talked to and the communication should be tailored to them separately” said Dun. “This is where direct mail becomes more affordable and effective, and people start to look at their databases in a different light”

Daily Poll

What did you feel was the biggest talking point to come out of MWC 2017?

  • Still miles away from 5G (28%, 42 Votes)
  • The telcos are still struggling (20%, 30 Votes)
  • 5G is almost there (17%, 26 Votes)
  • IoT has matured (12%, 18 Votes)
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  • VR is WTF (5%, 8 Votes)
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Total Voters: 149

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