Joint Industry Currency: What is it, and what does it mean for your marketing?

JICmail (Joint Industry Currency Mail) is in action and you should familiarise your brand with it if you want to improve audience measurement tools and metrics for marketing’s most durable medium; direct mail.

With the backing of representative bodies that include the IPA, Royal Mail, DMA, SBA, Whistl and UK Mail, the move anticipated a more hands-on approach from clients as they track and manage their campaign spending with mail. The measurements are based off an already-popular method of gathering insight from panelists to the JIC, from approximately 5000 consenting households. Institutions such as BARB (television) and RAB (radio) have been effectively implementing the panelist system into their mediums based on an accurate representation of the British population; which includes ethnicities and income. This guarantees a better understanding of the consumer and an improved return on investment, all by establishing:

1) The value of Direct Mail’s ‘cost of communication’ compared with other mediums.

2) The general usage of a channel by all clients (sharing/re-readability) in order to generate a more accurate and relevant returns model.

How does it work?

Research giant, Nielsen, will report on 5000 households across the UK and analyse their mail consumption, these reports will then be projected to the national average – much in the same way Radio usage analytics work.

Whereas before, a brand or agency would only be able to measure ‘mail items sent’ and the backend metrics of how much direct response has been tracked, now they can understand the percentile of people that actually open and read their marketing, and then what they think.

If that doesn’t sound promising enough, pilot research has already revealed a convenient statistic: 80% of addressed email is opened and read not only by the recipient but is also shared or passed on to other members of the family. On average, one piece of addressed mail is read by 1.32 people! This kind of information is valuable in the context of how marketers plan messaging and design – in the knowledge that the piece of personalised mail we’re delivering has an afterlife beyond the name on the letterhead.

Better still, this kind of information is valuable in helping Marketing Directors allocate their budgets more confidently. Questions that were previously difficult to answer, such as ‘which mail do my customers share the most, and how should I adapt the message?’, or ‘how often will this customer re-read the piece?’ are now opportunities for more testing, more insight and a healthier return on investment.

While Direct Mail has always been a reliable choice, it has - until now - lacked the precision that makes digital platforms so attractive to frugal marketers. It may still account for 10% of the UK ad spend, but this traditional approach to marketing, which draws conclusions (via Split Testing, for example) over insight, seems less ‘fruitful’ in scope when compared to opportunities in optimising data with digital channels.

While JICMail goes from strength to strength in 2018, that's about to change. Mail continues to prove itself as an effective medium, able to keep up with digital marketing; the introduction of these metrics will, at last, reveal how and why customers are experiencing their mail. And in turn, helps the rest of us craft exactly the kind of letters, flyers, and outers that the customer can trust. 

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