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Traditional direct marketing more likely to drive new customer web traffic than online

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More than twice as many UK consumers say traditional direct marketing is more likely than digital marketing to encourage them to go to a website and seriously consider a purchase from a company for the first time, a new poll from messaging specialist Pitney Bowes has revealed.

60% of respondents believe offline marketing, in the form of addressed mail or direct response advertising, is most likely to get them to visit the website of a company they have not bought from before with the intention of buying a product or service. Only 24% of the consumers surveyed said that a marketing message delivered through digital media such as email, a sponsored web link, or an ad on a social networking website would drive them to a company site with a first-time purchase in mind.

The figures came out of a broader European study conducted by Pitney Bowes, which involved a survey of 10,000 adults in the UK, Germany, France, Scandinavia and Benelux. The sample was balanced by age, gender, region and social class.

Pitney Bowes found that UK women were more likely to seriously consider a first-time purchase from a website after being directed there by a traditional marketing message than men — 63% compared to 57% of men. But when driven to a website through an online platform, men were more likely to visit with a purchase in mind with 25% saying so, compared to 23% of the women surveyed.

Direct marketing was more effective at driving serious consumer traffic than digital activity across all age groups, with UK consumers aged 35-34 (67%) most likely to visit and consider buying from a website for the first time after being directed there by an offline message. The next most likely age group was 35-44 at 64%, followed by 45-54 at 60% and the 18-24 and 55+ age groups both at 56%.

When it came to UK respondents picking up on digital messages and considering buying from the website of a company they had not bought from before, the 18-24 age group was most responsive at 41%, followed by 25-34 at 37%, 35-44 at 25%, 45-54 at 16% and 55+ at 14%.

Overall, the UK figure lagged slightly behind the European total of 62% for respondents who said that direct marketing was most likely to drive them to go to a website and consider buying from a company they had not dealt with before, while the figures for digital achieving the same goal was the same at 24% for both the UK and Europe.

“These figures demonstrate how critically important it is for businesses to find the right marketing mix,” says Gareth Stoten at Pitney Bowes. “Online channels such as social networking are a hot topic, but it is the traditional print and mail channels that are driving people to make web purchases. A digital presence on its own does not provide a strong enough impetus for brands seeking to make a connection with prospects — even when it comes to those consumers looking to buy over the internet.”

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