Door-to-door marketing, once seen as a mass-market medium and a relatively blunt tool, has become a data-driven activity to rival some of the most targeted direct marketing activity.
Research commissioned by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and conducted by BMRB in 2001, reveals that consumers find door drops 10% more useful than they did in 1995 when the survey was last taken - proof that targeting is working.
As a result, more and more companies are adding door-to-door to their marketing strategies. Retailers, in particular, are making door-to-door one of their core activities.
Safeway delivers some eight million items a week. Sectors such as financial services and charities, which have traditionally devoted much of their below-the-line budgets to direct mail, are turning to door-to-door because it offers a cost-effective and targeted alternative.
And it is not only client companies that are being won over. Media buyers and creative agencies are also discovering the benefits of the medium. "I used to be very anti door-to-door," says Paul Seligman, managing director of agency Communicator. "It used to be the ugly duckling of marketing services and was seen as downmarket. But in the past five years, it has emerged as a low-cost and highly effective way of reaching large numbers of people. In addition, targeting has improved enormously."
"First of all, the actual delivery process is much better - the days when you got 20 copies of the same leaflet through your letterbox are long gone. Today, brand companies can be much more confident about their items being delivered, thanks to validation systems," Seligman adds. "Door-to-door is very efficient at delivering a powerful message and it is very easy to evaluate the campaigns. You can easily test the effect of coupons or comparesolus and shared distribution."
Like direct mail, the vast majority of door-to-door campaigns are now targeted to maximise response and then evaluated in order to further improve targeting.
Rob Haslingden, senior consultant at data specialist Experian, says: "There is now real comparison between direct mail and door-to-door in terms of data. There is more data, more widely available, at a lower cost. Now, the DVLA tells us when people are buying a new car and the Land Registry reveals who is moving house, which has great potential for the financial services and DIY sectors. There is a raft of new data combined with a steady improvement of quality. The door-to-door user now has the opportunity to target smaller and smaller groups."
But there is a trade-off between targeting and cost, says Haslingden. "Although advertisers want to reduce volumes, there is a premium to be paid on the more targeted deliveries. The question remains whether it is actually worth going down to very small areas and I think the jury is still out on that."
Nevertheless, retailers and FMCG companies in particular are supporting door-to-door and are taking advantage of the targeting opportunities that the medium offers.
Last summer Kimberly-Clark distributed over half a million samples of its new Andrex Moist Toilet Tissues door-to-door, targeting B-group consumers with children, living within the catchment areas of the four big supermarkets. The objective of the campaign was to use sample packs to encourage trial and included a money-off coupon to drive sales.
And in May 2001, Jacob's identified C1 and C2 households with children as the target market for curry Twiglets. The campaign was focused predominantly in the North of England and Scotland, with a total of 2.25 million samples being distributed, accompanied by a money-off coupon. Both these campaigns were carried out by door-to-door specialist Circular Distributors.
"By targeting your campaign, you can maximise the bang you get for your buck," says managing director Nick Wells. …