In January 2018, a new ‘currency’ for measuring advertising mail engagement was launched, finally enabling the third-largest media channel in the UK according to ad spend to be considered by marketers on a like-for-like basis to television, radio, outdoor and press.
JICMail data shows the actions taken with direct mail, door drops and business mail in the home. It was hoped that the initiative would normalise mail, ultimately making it more attractive to media planning and buying agencies, many of whom had been under-utilising mail or even overlooking it completely.
Just over a year on from JICMail’s inception, the signs are promising. At an event held last week at the London offices of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), the JICMail team updated a packed room of media and advertising professionals on the initiative’s first year and latest features.
JICMail engagement director Mark Cross opened proceedings by revealing that the measurement platform, which won the award for Media Research at the Market Research Society awards in December, already has 45 subscribers that include media agencies, data specialists and advertisers.
“The impact of JICMail on the mail industry and the industry more widely is significant. We’ve revealed the hidden patterns of exposure and commercial interactions with mail across a typical month,” he said.
“Our mission is to embed JICMail across the eco-system so that users can readily extract value from this application.”
JICMail director of data leadership and learning Ian Gibbs added: “We’ve tracked over 80,000 mail items over the course of the last year and a half, and this allows us to unpick exactly what people are doing with individual campaigns, the commercial outcomes that we can see as a result, and the content that drives those commercial outcomes.”
JICMail’s latest developments include data visualisation tool JICMail Discovery and the new item database, which enables users to look at individual mail journeys.
“You can really start to unpick and understand how consumers are interacting with mail,” said Gibbs.
“The longer items hang around, the more committed [commercial] actions are. On day one, nearly two-thirds of items on which commercial actions are taken are read, if they hang around for a week then 45% of them are discussed with someone else, if they hang around for a couple of weeks they start to drive people online, if they hang around for three weeks they might prompt a store visit, and if they hang around for the full 28 days, 6% of users plan a large purchase.”
JICMail has also recently added integrations with both the established TGI and IPA Touchpoints surveys. This enables mail data to be integrated with other channel data, allowing marketers to do multi-channel planning off an integrated set of data for the first time.
Event attendees were given a closer look at the IPA Touchpoints integration, with IPA research and marketing manager Simon Frazier talking about how different mediums can be used together to increase the effectiveness of campaigns.
He noted that while there are many more marketing channels available now than 20 years ago, “it’s not just about adding more channels to the mix, it’s about making these channels work as effectively as possible in people’s daily lives.”
Other speakers discussed how they have been using the JICMail data. Tim Green, data strategy director at marketing agency Lida, said JICMail “fits seamlessly into my planning and strategy process”.
“I deal with a lot of marketers, both in agencies and client and brand teams, who have only ever known digital channels.
“Direct mail is a really important media channel in this digital age. People are very personal and insular now, often looking at a small screen in quite a personal way, but direct mail has a shared value and a greater reach than that personal space.”
He added: “JICMail is really important in building a business case [for mail]. It used to be really hard to get any kind of benchmark KPI data around direct channels. It basically involved scouring everywhere you could on the internet and probably getting stuff that was three or four years old and behind the curve.”
The latest JICMail data has revealed that 69% of all direct mail is opened, 63% of it is read or looked at immediately and 25% is put aside and looked at later in the month, while 63% of all door drops are looked at.
These are numbers that even the biggest digital devotees will find hard to ignore in a world where digital cut-through is increasingly harder to come by.
JICMail is already proving an invaluable tool for many early adopters and, as its subscription base continues to grow, direct mailers should be well placed to benefit.