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Belgium, Direct Mail & Charity

Date: April, 2011 --

While some postal systems and direct marketers seem to be throwing their hands up in resignation and moving en masse into the digital world, the direct marketing world in Belgium and the Belgian Post continue to recognize the power and effectiveness of direct mail approaches. 

The Belgian Post does this by providing direct marketing education and materials in two languages. Its website athttp://www.DMplaza.be is designed and written not by postal officials but by direct marketing experts. And their periodic educational email provides not only direct mail knowledge but knowledge about the Belgian market. Belgium Post International

For example, the most recent message announcing the major annual meeting of the industry in Brussels and the keynote by Lester Wunderman has the headline "figure of the month". No, it was not a dieting tip, but the simple number "67". 

67 is the "mean beta" of direct mail. The "mean beta" represents the proportion of individuals who recall a brand name after being exposed to it only one time. The only medium which has a greater impact on consumers with respect to recalling a brand is advertising on the big screen in movie theaters where that percentage is three out of four, or a mean beta of 75. 

And what is the "mean beta" of the Internet? According to the research done by the Belgian Post it is an unimpressive 12. Only 12 out of 100 people recall a brand after seeing it once on the Internet 

That is to say that even one fleeting exposure to a new direct mail piece will result in two out of three people remembering that brand. This conclusion came from an analysis of 89 separate tests conducted in Belgium and using a wide variety of brands and business sectors. Our suspicion is that this is not a test result unique to Belgium, but would be the result nearly anywhere in the world. 

Of course the resources used to promote direct mail would be meager indeed without case studies, and the most recent was a moving fundraising exercise of the charity Gothenburg Homeless Aid. This organization specializes in assisting families and children where one of the parents is in prison. The creative challenge was to write a letter that would impress upon the reader the pain a child is feeling with a parent in prison. Mail


In prison, every letter is opened and read before it is given to the prisoner. All other communication channels are monitored also. Using direct mail in a way that no other medium can be used, the charitable donation request was sent in a letter which had been opened and apparently read before being taped up and stamped by the Department of Correction. 

The emotional impact anticipated did occur. The response rate rose from 11% to 13% and the average donation rose from €21 to €27.5. Total response also rose, as indicated, and total donations increased by 50% from the previous year. 

To assure your unopened direct mail pieces get opened in Belgium, you have to first be sure they'll get to the addressee. Data Services and its professionals will help you assure your addresses are current, complete and correct so you can cause two thirds of your recipients to remember you.