The power of DM demonstrated by Volvo

This week you might have heard that Volvo has launched a recall of 70,000 vehicles in the UK as a result of a faulty plastic engine component which is a potential fire risk.

To inform its customers it has announced that it will be mounting a direct mail campaign, whereby it will write to the owners of all affected models manufactured between 2014 and 2019, alerting them to the issue and offering a fix. It will also serve to allay any fears insisting that drivers can continue to use their cars as normal unless they note an unusual smell emanating from under the bonnet.

A follow-up letter is also planned which will detail a longer-term solution to the problem.

So far Volvo has been widely praised for its quick response to the problem and the way it is communicating with customers – unlike Whirlpool which also recently issued a recall after a government mandate, which comes four years after the fault in its tumble driers was first uncovered, since which there has been a spate of house fires linked to the defective units.

What the Volvo campaign shows is that direct mail remains an incredibly effective part of the marketing mix when it comes to the dissemination of important information. This is a result of its targeted nature. Unlike mass media, like TV, radio and social media, where you can’t be sure of the penetration of the message you actually can reach named individual customers. Yes this can be done via email – but as research shows inbox fatigue means that many emails are disregarded or lost in the melee – particularly those that might be considered marketing collateral. It can also be done over the phone, but this is laborious and cost ineffective. And consumers are widely proven to dislike the phone as an outbound medium – even if it is related to something as important as a recall.   Direct mail on the other hand is experiencing something of a resurgence in popularity. Our own research shows that consumers are beginning to love their mail boxes again due to the reduction in mail that they receive. This is particularly true amongst digital natives that have no prior experience of the so called doormat deluge of yesteryear.

Direct mail might not be technologically advanced like digital marketing, or as high budget and glamourous as it’s above the line cousins, but sometimes it really is the best tool for the job! And it is important that this is noted!