≡ Menu

How direct mail outperforms email for cold and warm acquisition campaigns

When you’re trying to work out where to spend your marketing budget, it’s tempting to focus on digital. After all, when everyone’s spending their time with their noses in their phones, it’s common sense to put your budget where your customers are – right?

email versus print for customer acquisitionWell, it turns out that maybe because your customers are spending so much time Snapbooking and TickTocking each other that they actually might not have too much time left over to really pay much attention to our carefully crafted marketing messages.

Or at least that’s what campaign research is suggesting.

Obv if you manage to create that viral hit we’re all so desperately trying to conjure up, then they may just be giving your brand the recognition it so richly deserves.

But if not, is it just possible a portion of your digital marketing spend might be swirling down a digital plug hole?

If the majority of your new – or indeed, your lapsed – acquisition budget gets spent on email, then you might want to look away now.

Because one of our lovely partners recently shared some fascinating insight with us on the ROIs of two campaigns – one a cold acquisition campaign and the other for warm acquisition (meaning customers had made enquiries but not bought).

They wanted to know whether direct mail or email was most effective at engaging and converting both these customer groups and how much each cost per sale.

They’re pretty simple yet vitally important questions us marketers want to know, right? And, because of the obvious lack of cost associated with each email send, they kinda took it as a foregone conclusion that email would triumph.

Cold Acquisition campaign

The cold acquisition campaign was split between DM and Email, contacting over 900,000 cold customers with approximately one third receiving email only and two thirds a piece of direct mail.

The result?

  • The email campaign resulted in just 0.02% of email recipients enquiring with a conversion rate of 42%.
  • The DM campaign resulted in almost 1% of recipients making enquiries of which over half resulted in a sale.
  • And when the calculations were made, the cost per sale for the printed direct mail campaign was 57% lower than for the email campaign!

If you run email campaigns, you may be surprised to hear that?

Warm Acquisition Campaign

The team were pretty staggered by the cold campaign results. Not what they were expecting at all. So they turned their attention to the warm acquisition campaign.

Remember, these are prospective customers who’d previously enquired but who hadn’t yet bought. That meant the sample was much smaller. It also meant they were potentially much more valuable than the cold list, so the team opted to not only split the direct mail and email sends as before, but to send most of the list both email and DM to see how they worked together.

The split was approx. 5%/20%/75% email only/DM only/DM & email.

The result?

  • The email campaign resulted in around 3.5% enquiry rate and an enquiry to sales conversion rate of just 3.6%
  • The DM campaign resulted in a slightly lower 2.5% enquiry rate but with an enquiry to sales conversion of a massive 70%
  • The joint email & DM campaign encouraged almost 7% of enquiries but, surprisingly, only a 33% enquiry to sale conversion rate.

That said, when we look at that all important cost per sale, the joint email/DM campaign and the DM-only campaign were pretty similar at around the £20 mark.

The email-only cost worked out around 8 times higher!

Yes, you read that right. Compared to a DM campaign alone or DM combined with email, an email-only campaign to a warm list cost over 8 times more per order.

I don’t know about you, but that’s not what I thought the results would be.

Hopefully though, now you do know, it’ll give you a little food for thought when planning your next acquisition campaign.

Obviously, this data probably generates almost as many questions as it answers (what data doesn’t?). What was the creative like? Which sectors were involved? What were the data sources and how were the calculations made etc. etc.?

But that’s all part of the journey we all go through to understand our own sector and marketing landscape.

So if you’re looking to run your next acquisition campaign and wanting good advice from our team of print and DM marketing specialists on what formats to choose or to navigate your way through your postage options – all of which will hopefully drive up enquiry and conversion rates even higher still – then your friendly Webmart consultant is always available to help.

{ 0 }

If you buy a brochure, magazine or catalogue for your business, then you might find our handy cheat sheet comes in useful.

We’re always being asked some of the basics – so we decided to make this quick guide that’ll answer all the most common questions – such as:

  • Which are the most common papers to use for my brochure/magazine/catalogue?
  • How should I ask for delivery so I know they’ll come undamaged or be suitable for my warehouse?
  • What’s the most cost-effective page count for my brochure/magazine/catalogue?

You’ll find those answers and more below. Plus we’ve also laid it out as a handy pdf so you can grab a copy and save it or print it out. Just click the graphic below.

And as always, if you’ve got any further questions, email us at enquiries@webmartuk.com or call on 01869321321.Happy printing!



Designing & Specifying Brochures, Magazines & Catalogues


Click to download as a PDF

Avoid problems and save time and money with these quick tips for when you’re next designing and specifying a brochure or catalogue.

Paper types

Paper is available in different quality types. The below list shows a range starting from the highest quality (heavier, thicker, whiter) down to the lowest quality (lighter, thinner and less white):

  • Woodfree
  • Near woodfree
  • Machine coated
  • Light weight coated
  • Super calendered
  • Improved newsprint
  • Standard newsprint

You can choose matt, gloss or silk finishes, with some uncoated options on woodfree and newsprint paper types.

Page count

Your project’s page count should be divisible by four (e.g. 32, 48, 64 etc.) to facilitate binding.

The most cost-effective page counts are divisible by 16 (not including your four-page cover).

Finished size

Presses in the UK are designed to deal primarily with printing A4 and A5 sizes, so these are the most common and cost-effective options:

  • A4: 297mm x 210mm
  • A5: 210mm x 148mm

Paper weights

There are different weights available for each paper type, expressed as ‘gsm’ which means ‘grams per square metre’.

If you are printing low volumes (e.g. under about 20,000), you will need to specify a paper weight of 80gsm or higher, as this is the minimum that low volume sheet fed presses can process. Higher volumes can be printed more cost-effectively on web fed or gravure presses, which can both process paper as thin/light as 39 gsm.


Normally, four inks (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) are combined together to produce a good range of colours on a printed item.

Special pre-mixed inks, known as Pantone colours, are sometimes needed for colour accuracy or impact (e.g. an exact shade may be specified by a brand’s guidelines or to maximise impact).

In addition, metallic inks (including gold and silver) are available. The more colours you require, and the addition of any special or metallic inks, will increase the printing cost.


The two most common binding types are:

  • Saddle stitched: two wire staples applied into the spine.
  • Perfect bound: glue applied along the spine.

If your print project is over a certain thickness (typically anything more than 100 pages at 80gsm), then perfect bound will last longer and look better.

Cover Finishing

Adding a finish to the cover of your project will help to communicate prestige and quality, improve longevity and increase impact. Common cover finishes include:

Sealer varnish: Adds a slight texture and comes in matt, gloss or silk options.

Overall UV varnish: Adds a layer of either matt, gloss or silk texture across the whole cover.

Spot gloss UV varnish: Adds a high-gloss shine to specific areas of the cover and is often used to highlight images or logos and add tactility.

Lamination: Adds a thick, protective layer of either gloss, matt or silk plastic, which gives the cover a more rigid feel and increased longevity.

There are many other options available – tell us what you’re trying to achieve and we’ll provide ideas.


After binding, your project will need to be packed. The most common options available are listed below, starting with the cheapest and ending with the most protective:

Bulk packed on pallet (BPOP): Stacked in bundles onto a pallet then shrink wrapped.

Shrink wrapped bundles: As the finished print comes off the line they are wrapped in a film and then sent through an oven. The oven shrinks the film around the pile making them secure and less likely to be damaged. The shrink wrapped bundles are then placed onto pallets for further shrink wrapping.

Carton packed: As the bundles come off the line they are placed in boxes before being shrink wrapped onto pallets for extra protection.

{ 0 }

blog-icons-groupIf you want to add foiling, embossing or varnishing to a print project, you’d normally find it only cost-effective for long print runs, and you’d need to allow time for a lengthy set-up process. A new print process called Scodix is changing all that.

In its simplest form, Scodix is a new digital finishing technique that allows specialist printers to build up any number of transparent layers of varnish onto a single sheet. What it means in practice is that there’s now a cost-effective way to produce the following effects on shorter runs of print on digital presses – and all with much higher detail than before.

  • Metallic foils
  • Embossing
  • Creative varnishing patterns
  • Glitter
  • Ultra high gloss varnishes

The process does away with the need for the costly set up of these traditional finishing processes. It means they’re now available for shorter runs of print and print that’s printed on digital presses – for the first time.

The technique is particularly suitable for prestigious brands or print where you want to add that extra WOW factor. In these cases, it can really add to the impact and exclusivity of your print. For budgeting purposes however, we’d suggest that anything more than 1,000 B2 sheets and the price might become too prohibitive.

The effect of print finished with Scodix can be tricky to photograph, but we hope you can get an idea from the photos below (click to enlarge). On the basketball, we’ve added a Scodix texture to simulate the grooves and nobbles you find on the surface while the certificate shows how we can simulate metallic foil blocking on individual, personalised print items.

Benefits of Scodix high-build varnish

  • Improves look, feel and prestige of print
  • Improves ‘keepability’ and tactility of your printed product
  • Allows for short-run digital printing of braille
  • Great for reproducing glossy photographs
  • Simulates metallic foils and embossing on short run digital

Artworking issues

Artworking for Scodix is pretty simple. Using the design software of your choice, you need to create an enhancement layer that’ll act as a mask for the areas you would like to have Scodix added to. This new layer file should be output as a pdf, making sure it’s identical in all respects; size, orientation, crop, image positions and text etc. to the original CMYK artwork. For more information on setting up your artwork visit the Scodix site here.

Simulated embossing on digital printed cover

Simulated embossing on digital printed cover – on the Webmart Scodix sample book.

If you’d like to hear more or chat about how Scodix can work with your print, please get in touch with one of the crew at Webmart and we’ll be able to explain how it works and arrange a sample brochure for you.

{ 0 }

May 2014. Munich, Germany. Webmarteers Lee Smith (Category Management Director) and Simon Biltcliffe (Webmart CEO) visited FESPA Digital 2014 – the world’s leading exhibition for wide format (i.e. large graphics!) and textile print – to check out the latest innovations we could bring back to the UK. Here’s their report on some of the highlights.


The largest ever FESPA Digital show in its eight-year history attracted a record audience of 16766 unique visitors, a 30% increase over FESPA Digital 2011 in Hamburg, the previous best.

The four exhibition halls and themed content ‘hubs’ buzzed with visitors responding to FESPA’s call to ‘Dive Deeper into Digital’.

Exhibitors from around the world were there presenting the latest in digital technology from new faster presses to fully automatic cutting tables. HP, Cannon, Durst, Ricoh, Epson, EFI, Fujifilm, Zund and Roland were among the major exhibitors showcasing the very latest machines, materials, inks and technology.


HP has, in recent years, lead the way and shown the most impressive range of digital kit – and this year was no different. HP introduced its new latex 3000 press which demonstrated how new curing and ink technologies are allowing printers to benefit from latex quality at industrial production speeds. Latex Inks are ideal for wide and super-wide applications including event banners, transit signage, and other outdoor applications as well as for high-quality indoor signage. Latex Inks are pigmented, water-based inks . The water-based formulations of Latex Inks reduce the impact of printing on the environment and deliver overall durability that outperforms solvent ink with prints offering display permanence up to 3 years unlaminated outdoors and for indoor, in-window displays, up to 5 years unlaminated.

HP Scitex FB10000

HP also showcased their very impressive flatbed (rather than a machine fed by a roll of material) presses such as the HP Scitex FB10000 which has a print bed of 3.2m x 1.6m allowing print speeds of up to 625 square meters per hour and with the ability to print direct onto substrates up to 25mm thick and with the launch of the FB15000 which is an upgrade on the 10000 with automatic material feed (as opposed to having to manually feed each sheet of material), this has enabled printers to compete, in terms of both speed and cost, with litho printed display work at higher quantities than ever before.

HP Scitex FB10000

HP Scitex FB10000

Gone are the days where digital was only cost-effective for runs of less than 200. Now the quantity line where litho becomes the more cost effective production method is much higher. Added to the fact that each print can be different and printed direct to display board rather than having to litho print onto paper and mount to the board, and it’s beginning to give digital production a distinct advantage. It’s safe to say that flatbed digital production is fast becoming the way forward for large format Point of sale graphics.

Vehicle Wraps

F430 with leather-effect wrap

F430 with leather-effect wrap

It was also exciting to see the progress in the vehicle wrapping market. There are now almost no limits to how you can get a marketing message onto a vehicles with a massive range of vinyl finishes and effects now available. We saw a mini being wrapped with a leather effect finish next to a Porsche covered in a carbon fibre effect wrap. As well as growth in the vehicle advertising market, It is a real possibility that having your car wrapped may become a standard additional extra! 

Bus advertising Copenhagen Zoo

Bus advertising Copenhagen Zoo

Keeping up to date with the very latest technology is something Webmart’s Category Management team prides itself in and we work tirelessly to partner and collaborate with the best suppliers who are investing in the latest technology so we can bring fresh ideas and innovation to our clients.



HP FB 1000 brochure

{ 0 }

Many of our customers use Royal Mail’s Advertising Mail for a discount on their postage. In a nutshell, Advertising Mail is Royal Mail’s way of encouraging companies to use the post as a way of promoting their services. For lots more information, see the Advertising Mail pages on the Royal Mail website.

However, things have changed a little. They’ve changed inasmuch as Royal Mail is now becoming more stringent in the way it applies its Advertising Mail discounts. If you’ve been working to the letter of the law previously, then all’s probably well with your world.  However if you’ve been taking short cuts and got the feeling you’ve been getting away with things for a while, then you might be in for a rude awakening.

What’s Going on with Admail?

Royal Mail is clamping down on people claiming the discount who, in their eyes, shouldn’t be. Since Nov 5th, they’ve been much more stringent about what does, and what does not qualify for Advertising Mail discount. So here’s some help about what you need to look out for and how to help yourself comply with Admail guidelines:

  • To qualify for Advertising Mail, EACH VERSION of a mailing must comprise a minimum of 4,000 items per version/poster. Royal Mail won’t allow consolidation of different versions to reach that figure – if there is more than one version of an item, each version must include more than 4,000 items. For example, if there are four versions of a mailing with 2000 items in each, it will not qualify for Admail discount.
  • Generally, magazines/publications won’t qualify for Admail discount, so it’s essential to check with Royal Mail before mailing. There are very specific situations that magazines/publications will qualify – essentially, that’s only where their primary purpose is promoting and item or product for sale.

OK, I Think I Comply. What Else?

Your Webmart consultant or account manager will help assess your mailings and advise you on the best course of action. However, if you want more actionable insight right here, right now, then look no further. We have embedded best practise into our software so we catch any problems early (get in touch if you want to benefit from our expertise, free of charge as always). But for those of you who don’t have this luxury or just want to go it alone, we’ve created a very useful checklist that’ll help you adhere to Admail’s stringent requirements. Note, even if you adhere to our checklist, you must ensure the content of the mailing complies – again, check out the Royal Mail Admail website. Our checklist is also useful for checking Sustainable Mail compliance too.


Advertising Mail Checklist download

Click above to download our checklists (after filling out a tiny form)


For a copy of our Advertising Mail Content Checklist or our High or Low sort Advertising Mail Checklist, click here.



I Need More Help

It can be tricky to work out if you’re eligible for Admail discount as much of the wording can be technical and/or opaque. So, for your delight and delectation, we’ve also created a Guidance list. In it we’ve detailed real-world examples of mailings that will pass as Advertising Mail – and some that won’t – which will hopefully make things much clearer. Click the above graphic and fill out our small form and we’ll send you a copy of that too.

After that, if you’re still unsure whether you’re compliant (and you’re a Webmart customer) send us through your artwork and we can get compliance verified beforehand. If you’re not a Webmart customer, get in touch and we’ll see if we can help you out too.

{ 0 }

Our customers are always looking for interesting and eye-catching new print formats to drive their next campaign. But it sometimes takes a bit of lateral thinking to get the best out of them. Here’s Chief Webmarteer Simon with a great offer – best idea on how to use this new format creatively or effectively wins a case of beer or giant tub of retro sweets (over 18’s based in the UK only for the beer!)

Send us your ideas in the comments section below 🙂

{ 0 }

We’re always looking to help our customers improve their ROI – it’s what we do!  So we recently popped over to the CatEx shindig at Lords to present a case study on how some recent developments in personalised digital print are dramatically pushing up response rates (i.e. direct, attributable sales). We’re not going to give away the percentage increases before you watch the video – suffice to say it’s a relatively small initial outlay for a significant boost in ROI. Plus watching the vid will reacquaint you with some of the basic stuff you should be doing anyway to drive up ROI.

So check it out below. The video was filmed by our own intrepid maester of all things personalised, attributable and digital – print consultant Mark Robinson (thanks Mark!).

Sit back, grab a cuppa, and spend 30 mins realigning your print marketing strategy with the latest print innovations!

{ 1 }

Our print consultants always have their collective ears to the ground to find new ways to drive up response rates from print marketing campaigns. Here’s a great – and mega cost-effective – way to get a 40% email sign up rate. And as you’ll know, if you’re segmenting customers and offering real, meaningful and worthwhile comms through your drip-marketing email campaigns – that can be worth its weight in orders!

Webmart scratch cards

Here’s some we prepared earlier.

So, on to the top tip – and this works just as well for bricks and mortar as well as online-only retailers. Put a scratch card competition in with your deliveries or on the shop counter. A free scratch card is always enticing because you’re compelled to rub it off and see if you’ve won. You then design it so customers have to jump on your website to see what they’ve won. Of course, you don’t want to be paying out for lots of expensive gifts, so the winning prizes should be samples of your products; they’ll be cheaper and help convert winners over into customers – I mean they’ve expressed a massive preference in your brand in the first place by entering your store (or even buying from you) so it’s a great opportunity to keep on pushing your brand and products towards them again.

Genius and simple idea to drive up customer engagement. Let us know if you’ve done anything similar in other B2C or even B2B businesses.

{ 0 }

If you use consumer data in your business and you’ve not heard of the European General Data Protection Regulation, then it’s probably worth casting your eye over the page below. We’ve brought together a high-level view of what it is, how it could affect you and when it’s due to be introduced – all you need to know until the day it’s either introduced or kicked out.

What is the General Data Protection Regulation?

The GDPR is an attempt to standardise the way individual’s data is protected across the EU as well as enshrine certain rights of individuals on how their data is used.

With 27 countries all having different data laws, it might sound like a sensible move. However, the devil’s in the detail and because the regulations cover the way all personal digital data is stored and used across the EU, and with claims that it could cost UK business an estimated £47bn in lost sales/costs, there are real concerns that it goes too far in limiting the ability of business to trade competitively.

Will it affect me?

If you’re part of a business who’s using EU consumer data (whether you’re based in the EU or not) and/or the person who manages your data is based in the EU, then yes, it’ll affect you. See below for how it’ll impact on your business.

When will it affect me?

The vote on whether to adopt the regulation has been postponed to next month (May ’13). Should it be enacted, the regulations will come into effect in 2014 with a two year period of grace to implement changes meaning you’d have to be fully compliant by some time in 2016.

What Does the Regulation Say?

As you can imagine, there’s lots of detail and the regulation acknowledges that not all data is the same – for example essential medical data is different from purchasing data. However, as a business that stores and uses customer data, here are some of the most important points:


No automated data processing to give deeper behavioural insight will be allowed unless explicit and specific consent is given. If consent isn’t given, that eliminates the ability to segment and profile data which drives much direct marketing activity.

Consent & Opt-ins

Explicit opt-in consent must be given by an individual and marketers can only contact them regarding similar products and services. This includes consumers having to provide express opt-ins for 3rd party mailings. This will have a huge impact on the amount of data available for list swaps, list rental and data appending, and it’s expected to severely limit the amount of cold prospect data available from commercial sources.


The regulation makes it easier for people to access and transfer personal data – and companies must respond to these requests quickly.


User’s IP addresses would be reclassified as private information making it unusable for marketers and provide only basic, non-specific analytics.

The right to be forgotten

One of the key proposals is that people have the right to be forgotten; i.e. if they use a service, then leave it, they can request that all their data is deleted or that the data is automatically deleted after a set period. That includes purchase history, location, name and address data.

Where data is passed on to a 3rd party it would then be up to the 1st party to request the data is deleted – which points towards a huge potential overhead in managing inter-organisation data removal.

Mailing, inserts, door-drops, catalogues

By restricting or removing qualified prospect mail order lists from the market, it’s difficult to see how any form of targeting can take place. DEFRA have already stated their intention of subjecting direct mail to consumer opt-ins in the name of reducing the amount of mail which goes into landfill. The irony is of course that improved data leads to improved targeting and less wastage, and that because the vast majority of direct mail is recycled, there’s been a large reduction in waste hitting landfills in recent years. It’s quite possible both these initiatives will lead to the return to poorly targeted and more wasteful ‘carpet bombing’ approaches, driving marketers away from targeted direct mail to inserts and door drops. It will also reduce the distribution of catalogues which use targeted prospect lists to find new customers, instead leaving them to rely on customers opting-in through other avenues.

Anything else?

Companies with over 250 employees will need a dedicated Data Protection Officer to handle compliance, and non-compliance could lead to penalties of up to €1m or 2% of the global annual turnover of a company.

Britain is seeking an opt out of key parts of the regulation while there are active campaigns from many business groups such as the Direct Commerce Association and the Direct Marketing Association. They believe the legislation will severely harm to ability to optimise marketing, leading to increased wastage, increased overheads and a reduction in competitiveness for UK businesses.

Further reading:

CatEx DCA logo  To join the fight to improve the regulations, try CatEx Direct Commerce Association.

Lobby your local MP/MEP – including sample letters – on the CatEx Direct Commerce Association website

European Commission Press Release from 2012

Full Proposal Document

{ 0 }

We’ll add pictures of print innovations to this image gallery as we discover them. If you’ve seen anything else you think we should add, we’d love you to get in touch using the contact us form.

{ 0 }