First Impressions Determine Direct Marketing Success

HAMBURG, GERMANY—April 27, 2012—The first stage of a study recently conducted by Nielsen, a leading global information and measurement company, and RAPP Germany investigated the advertising effectiveness of mailing techniques. The study brought to light how changing patterns of media consumption in this digital age have redefined the factors critical to the success of mailing campaigns. The combination of a relevant, target-group-specific address and a high-quality direct mail technique—clearly visible at the very first glance—increases the probability of breaking through the clutter and the attention barrier.

The current information overload has had a drastic and lasting impact on media habits. In the digital world, consumers are now confronted with several thousand of advertising messages every day, which means that content—even in direct mail—is seldom initially read with any high degree of attention, but generally just scan read at speed.


In the first stage of Nielsen’s recent study, the 1,800 subjects from Germany and the United States were asked how they thought customers preferred to be addressed. In a second stage, the insights gained were evaluated and followed up: the objective being to discover which factors influence the success of direct marketing campaigns today, other than the manner in which prospects are addressed.

To shed some light on the second stage of this study, and at the same time to avoid the misleading interaction of cross-media campaigns, a fictitious travel agency—Top Travel Tours—was “established.” Within the scope of a real test using five different direct mail techniques—standard envelope, printed envelope, self-mailer, wrapper and email—the marketing effectiveness of a customized holiday offer was tested amongst two groups of recipients—interested and not interested.

Success factor #1: The Envelope


The Nielsen study revealed that direct mail pieces in real envelopes (printed envelopes as well as standard envelopes) still generate the highest open and read rates when compared to self-mailers, wrappers and emails as the diagram demonstrates.

Success factor #2: Printed Packaging

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