How letterbox marketing works in the digital age

by Clare Henderson
23 January 2019
How letterbox marketing works in the digital age
Don't get stuck in a marketing rut. Consider how combining letterbox and digital channels can maximise the reach and return of your marketing campaigns.

It can sometimes feel like marketers have a tick box of channels they have to fulfill: website, tick; email, tick; social, tick. It can be all too easy to fall into the habit of using the same channels without consideration of the wider business objectives and the target audience in question. 

But such an approach is understandable when you consider the many pressures marketers are under on a daily basis. In our most recent 2019 Salmat Marketing Report, marketers identified the top three challenges:

  • Reaching new customers – 46%
  • Creating customer loyalty – 43%
  • Generating new leads – 35%

All of the above can make it hard for a marketer to justify deviating from an entrenched marketing mix, especially if they have little or no experience of a channel. Why explore catalogues, for example, when you’re already on a limited budget and have not used the channel successfully in the past?

The problem is that different marketing channels serve different purposes across the buyer’s journey. Do you want to raise awareness of your brand? Provide a prospect with the information they require to make a decision? Facilitate a purchase? Retain a customer or even create a brand advocate through customer service excellence? This may mean breaking out of your marketing comfort zone.

Marketers, ultimately, need to focus on the business objective they want to achieve as opposed to fulfilling a list of marketing channels. This may mean using channels which have previously been ignored. In particular, in this blog we will focus on the combination of letterbox and digital.

How can letterbox and digital channels work together?

Letterbox is one channel that can be used across the whole buyer’s journey, but is often overlooked. This was evident in our 2019 Salmat Marketing Report when consumers placed letterbox catalogues (28%) in their top six marketing channels, while marketers favoured digital channels.

Yet, letterbox has an extensive audience reach. At Salmat, we can reach up to 17 million Australians twice every week through the medium. This is not to be sniffed at when you consider that the closest contenders, according to Roy Morgan, are Commercial Radio (18 million) and Newspapers (16.8 million). 

Letterbox can be used to get a message out, convert prospects and manage ongoing relationships with existing customers. Even better results can be achieved when the channel is used in conjunction with digital.

Letterbox and digital are not mutually exclusive. Combining letterbox with other channels can increase the reach of your campaigns considerably. Roy Morgan revealed the following stats about letterbox readers in December 2018:

  • 73% have not watched pay TV in last 7 days
  • 73% have not been to the cinema in last 4 days
  • 65% have not read a local/community newspaper in last 7 days
  • 52% have not read a newspaper in the last 7 days

The argument is not that you should ditch your existing digital channels, but consider how you can combine them with letterbox to maximise the return of a campaign.

How has letterbox changed?

As a marketing channel, letterbox has matured considerably in recent years. Segmentation and targeting capabilities now rival those of digital campaigns. At Salmat, our sophisticated SwiftPlan media planning tool draws on more than 50 different targeting variables. 

In the same way as you can target a digital campaign, marketers can run campaigns of all sizes — from a national campaign targeting specific audiences down to a campaign targeting as few as 200 households. Taking such an approach to your letterbox campaigns not only reduces wastage, but increases responses and ultimately improves results.

Salmathub is another tool that provides marketers confidence that their campaigns have been delivered. Mapping technology used by our distribution network allows us to provide customers with comprehensive distribution reporting, addressing an often quoted concern when it comes to the letterbox channel — confirmation of delivery to an area.

Letterbox and digital in action

Clark Rubber is a great example of a brand that has reaped the benefits of broadening its marketing mix to include digital as well as a letterbox. When it started working with Salmat, the well-known Aussie retailer already had a comprehensive letterbox catalogue distribution across the country, but was not maximising its digital assets.

The Salmat Digital and Performance Marketing team saw the opportunity to extend the reach and impact of the brand’s catalogue through its digital channels. This included introducing a search and online display strategy aligned to the digital version of the catalogue, which was hosted on the online catalogue aggregator site, Lasoo. 

Overall traffic from all marketing sources increased by 11% year on year, while revenue increased by 70% year on year. As a result of the campaign’s success (increased online visits and store footfall), the brand scaled back its TV advertising to invest in letterbox and digital channels.

So, whether you are investing in a new marketing channel or just using your existing mix more wisely, the opportunities to combine letterbox and digital channels are considerable. The focus needs to be on achieving the brand’s business objectives not fulfilling a specific marketing mix quota.

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About the author
Clare Henderson
Senior Manager Client Engagement, NSW

Clare has extensive experience in client services and senior account management. Her career has spanned roles with Nielsen, Bazaarvoice and Hostworks, amongst others. In March 2017 she joined Salmat as an account director, and today she heads up the Client Services team in NSW where she spends her time working to guarantee client success within the ever-changing marketing services space.

More articles by Clare Henderson