“Any post?” – In the digital age we all still like mail

“Any post?” – In the digital age we all still like mail


Physical mail is still an important channel for reaching current and potential customers but it’s important to get it right. An interesting recent study from the Royal Mail looks at how attitudes to mail compare across seven key life stages, from ‘fledglings’ – adults living at home – right through family stages to ‘older retirees’. 

In this, the first in a two part blog series examining some of the report’s findings, we take a look at the influence of technology on attitudes and behaviour towards mail.

One message comes through loud and clear from the study – for everyone, regardless of age or circumstance, mail is still a relevant form of communication. At no life stage is mail completely rejected or ignored, even among the younger, so-called ‘digital native’ generation who connect most readily with technology.

“Consumers in all life stages read, share, store, follow up and respond to mail; and there are no groups that cannot be reached or influenced by mail.” Royal Mail MarketReach

‘Fledglings’, not surprisingly will tend to use digital channels to take action as a result of a piece of mail, therefore it’s important for mail targeting this life stage group to include a digital response mechanism. However, it would be inaccurate to think that mail is viewed as irrelevant or rejected by this tech-savvy group.

In fact, the report suggests that ‘fledglings’ have a generally positive attitude towards mail but are just less used to receiving it and are therefore somewhat inexperienced in dealing with it. Mail that connects with this group – and provides a digital call-to-action – can be successful.

Young families also turn to digital channels to take action on the back of received mail because they’re very time-poor and it’s a quick and convenient way for them to convert intention into action. They use smartphones to respond to mail more than any other group, 14 percent had responded to direct mail online on a mobile or tablet while over 20 percent had used a PC or laptop. By contrast, only six percent responded by post and seven percent by phone.

This group are the online information requesters. Sixteen percent took to their PCs, smart phones or tablets to ask for more information as a result of a piece of mail, which is higher than the average across the groups.

Older families also turn to technology to take action from mail with 30 percent responding online using their PC or laptop. These figures decline among the ‘empty nesters’ for whom the children have left home. For this group, print is popular – 64 percent agreed they’d feel ‘less in control of their lives if they didn’t have printed copies of important documents.’

Perhaps not surprisingly, older retirees have the biggest differential between requesting information by phone as opposed to by online as a result of a piece of mail – 17.5 percent reached for the phone while only eight percent went for the mouse.

In the second blog, we’ll take a look at the similarities and differences between the life stage groups in the way they respond to and take action as a result of receiving mail. To find out more about ‘The Life Stages of Mail’ study, visit the Royal Mail MarketReach website.

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