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Direct Marketing » Trends, Tips & Facts | 11/01/2013

Direct marketing is the social media for the silver generation

Companies moving into other countries for the first time have to use their advertising budget in a focused manner to avoid wastage to a large extent. Experience shows that the 65+ target group can still be reached more efficiently using an direct mailing rather than social media in the form of a blog or online advertisement. Particularly when it comes to cross-border e-commerce, the credibility of written advertising proves convincing for the "silver generation".

The internet continues to gain significance as a sales channel. For example, French companies now generate 14 per cent of their total turnover via e-commerce. In Europe’s frontrunner, the Czech Republic, this figure was as high as 24 per cent in 2012 according to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical office. In comparison, Germany at 17 per cent lies just above the European average of 15 per cent. Even if growth does weaken in the coming years, the Internet remains an interesting sales channel for entry into new markets. It offers niche providers good opportunities to sell their products and services even in saturated markets like Switzerland and France.

"Social networks usually only succeed in reaching 'digital natives' – the generation that grew up with the Internet."

The cost of online advertising is increasing

If more and more e-commerce providers enter the market, the cost of best placed online advertising, search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimisation (SEO) is likely to increase further. Moreover, narrow limits are set for the relatively cheap method of recruiting new customers via social media. After all, social networks usually only succeed in reaching “digital natives” – the generation that grew up with the Internet. The consequence is that specifically addressing the older generation by means of direct marketing and catalogues is in many cases more efficient than a social media campaign or online marketing via the web when entering foreign markets. The “silver generation” 65+ target group in particular is usually not as familiar with the Internet as many companies believe.

Europe: the 65+ generation continues to grow

Between 1950 and 2010 alone, the percentage of elderly people doubled from just over eight per cent to around 16 per cent according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA). A large proportion of this target group can only be reached offline via a mailshot or catalogue. The cost benefit on the one hand and target group precision on the other combine with the high credibility of written advertising to ensure that direct marketing remains an indispensable marketing instrument. However, cross-border direct marketing in particular poses special challenges for companies. After all, postal provisions and opportunities differ from country to country, sometimes considerably.

“Cross-border direct marketing in particular poses special challenges for companies.”

Check address quality in advance

Carrying out a spot check on address format is often enough to see whether the addresses correspond with standards in the recipient country. For example, for mailshots for France: are the name, street and place in the recipient address written in capital letters, as is also required in Poland? The way in which addresses are written in Great Britain is also very unfamiliar for people from Continental Europe. As well as the street and building number and the town belonging to the postcode, it is also usual to provide a building name or another place name.

In the B2B area, almost every country in Europe still uses a different industry classification system. While Germany, Austria and Switzerland work with very detailed industry allocation and have partially switched to the EU’s NACE codes, so-called NAF codes often still apply in France. In Great Britain, on the other hand, the SIC codes that used to be standard in the USA are still used. How up to date the codes that are used are is therefore often an early indication of address quality.

The appearance of a local company

By appearing like a local company or by using an individually designed stamp, direct marketers can considerably increase the acceptance of mailshots abroad. After all, the country of origin is often more important than the brand, quality and price when it comes to purchasing decisions. For newcomers getting into cross-border e-commerce for the first time, it is usually not worth setting up and maintaining their own infrastructure abroad. They can now send their goods in the look of the recipient country and thus appear like a local company. Particularly when it comes to reaching the "silver generation", this is an enormous advantage in gaining the trust of the target group – around the globe.

Asendia Tip: Comparison with reference databases saves postage

If a spot check gives rise to the suspicion that the addresses do not reflect
the current situation, a comparison of the addresses with international
reference databases will help.

Asendia offers this comparison through International AddressCleaning, for example.This enables duplicates to be filtered out and errors to be corrected in advance. Wastage is thus reduced considerably and companies save on postage costs for undeliverable consignments.


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The 65+ target group can be reached more efficiently using an direct mailing

About Dorothe Eickholt
Dorothe Eickholt is Managing Director of Asendia Germany in Troisdorf.

About Oliver Schleiss
Oliver Schleiss is Deputy Managing Director of Asendia Germany in Ludwigsburg.