Smartmail Marketing™: The Science of Direct Mail

You may have noticed recent posts in your Facebook feed or even a full-page ad in newspaper about a new marketing tool by Canada Post. While many people think that it is just flogging the ‘same old junk mail’ advertising mail, it is in fact a more intelligent way for businesses to engage with their most likely prospects and customers.

Smartmail Marketing

But before we look into more detail about this new marketing tool, we need to understand the power of direct mail and its place in the marketing world. While there will always be consumers who consider any kind of mail in their mailbox, other than personal letters from people they know, as “junk mail”, you may be surprised at the actual positive acceptance of advertising mail by the general population.

Did you know that 76% of Canadians read coupons and 59% save these coupons? 67% read advertising mail and 71% share their mail. In a study conducted in partnership with Harris/Decima examining how Canadians engage with different types of advertising mail, the highest percentage (72%) of engagement was mail with samples. Who doesn’t like a free sample?

And for those who think that ad mail is just for old folk, consider that of the 67% who read ad mail, the highest readership was in the millennial group (18-29 year olds) which comprises 33% of our population. Surprisingly, 73% of millennials read ad mail and 77% share it with friends.

What makes direct mail so effective? First, it is the only advertising medium that puts something tangible into the hands of the consumer and secondly, when properly executed, 43% of the targeted audience ordered a product online, 64% visited a website and 54% engaged with social media. When compared to digital media, 21% found direct mail easier to understand and had a 70% higher brand recall!

Canada Post’s new approach to direct mail marketing called Smartmail Marketing™: The Science of Activation is actually based on the study of neuroscience and how people react with direct mail. Smartmail Marketing encompasses three essentials elements – Physicality, Data and Connectivity.


smartmail marketing


  • Physicality – Increase your ability to drive action. Recent neuromarketing research has shown that activating multiple senses with a physical mail piece will generate a higher response rate, in this case 20% higher than digital media.
  • Data – Improve the effectiveness of your mail campaign through a combination of data mining and predictive analysis. You can tailor your message to more targeted consumers based on geography, demographics or psychographics. Using either your own customer lists or Canada Post’s own vast database Canada Complete™, you can make your message more relevant to your audience.
  • Connectivity – Maximize the success of your campaign by integrating direct mail with other popular mediums that your audience may be more comfortable with.

So now that we understand the power and importance of direct mail in your marketing mix, what are the options for creating a successful direct mail campaigns? In their revitalized marketing program, Canada Post supplies us with different solutions – Neighbourhood Mail™, Postal Code Targeting and Personalized Mail™. Let’s take a look at each one and explore the benefits of each.

  • Canada Post Neigbourhood Mail™ – Formerly called Unaddressed Admail, this format has been the workhorse for many businesses. It is what many consumers have labelled as ‘junk mail’, mostly because they have been wrongly targeted as potential customers. When properly targeted, your audience will view it as ‘opportunity mail’. This format reaches a preferred geographic profile in a broader neighbourhood by postal walk which normally consists of about 500 addresses per walk.
  • Postal Code Targeting – This is the newest addition to the Smartmail family and it is what you will probably see Canada Post advertising in your Facebook feeds. Using the profile of your own customer list, you are now able to leverage postal code data to reach prospects who share similar attributes. By applying geographic, demographic as well as lifestyle insights, you can pinpoint your target audience more precisely by postal code rather than postal walk. To avoid annoying current customers, you can have them suppressed from your new list. (We’ll talk more about this solution in another post.)
  • Canada Post Personalized Mail™ – If you wish to maximize customer loyalty and deepen your connection, you can use this solution to target individual customers and prospects. Formerly called Addressed Admail, this format is the most personal one-to-one direct mail communication using either your own list or Canada Complete™, again by selecting attributes similar to your current customer profile.

So why bother with direct mail as a marketing tool?

Direct mail has never gone away and has been around for a long time. However, it has never been easier to create and implement a direct mail campaign. With the science behind it, it has now been shown that its physical, tactile nature is more effective than other media.

With a creative approach, you can engage your customers and prospects and start to build a relationship. While mail gets noticed because of its physicality, it is never intrusive and your customers can engage with it at their own convenience. And integrating it with other popular digital media will maximize the success of your campaign.




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