The direct mailshot

I’m dubious whether sending unsolicited marketing through the post is entirely legal but so many companies do it, it has probably legalised itself. It’s a favourite of business banking and financing fintechs. The basic flow behind the direct mailshot is: 

  1. New company gets registered on Companies House
  2. Every fintech in the UK scrapes Companies House on a daily basis
  3. Direct mail is sent to the new company selling the fintech’s services
  4. 98.7% of this mail thrown in the bin*

In fact this tweet, where Ray was sent 5 almost identical letters from fintechs offering business accounts was part of the inspiration behind Fintech Battles. This battle is a straight-up fight between Starling for Business and Tide. I have no clue which of their mailshots converts best (if you know, feel free to let me know). Instead, let’s look at this through the eyes of a new business owner called Will Cookson who registered Fintech Battles Ltd on February 17, just for the perverse notion of thoroughness and dedication to the cause – he knew these mailers would arrive. And he promises to not talk about himself in the 3rd person again.


Starling for Business
Mar 16, 2020
Business banking

Starling for Business


Starling for Business

My company was registered on a Monday evening. This and Tide’s mailer both dropped through the letterbox on Thursday. These two are not the fastest of all the fintechs, but equal on print and delivery times. The race is on.

Starling’s mailshot is different to everyone else’s A4 letters. This is not just a mailer, it’s a Starling for Business mailer. White ink printed on a 250gsm textured blue stock, with a perforated bit that you have to rip open to get to the marketing inside. And inside there’s a nice bit of spot varnish on top of the card graphics. So far, so luxurious.

Inside the copy is jam packed with keywords, benefits, trust statements and bullet points. So much so the right side of my brain decides to take a short nap. But I understand trust is important. Starling hits them all. British Bank Awards Winner 2019 (check). Current account switch guarantee (check), 5,616 reviews on Trustpilot (check), App store logos (check), and FSCS protected (check, this is a big one).

It’s bold, it’s distinctive and it probably converts better because of it.


No one ever got fired for hiring IBM. No one ever got fired for using an A4 letter for direct mail. Aside from Starling, the A4 letter is the format of choice and Tide are running with it. With fewer special printing techniques, Tide’s effort seems a tad more environmentally friendly seeing as all this marketing is heading to the recycling bin anyway. 

You can get one of these letters printed and through a door for around 45p. So to achieve a CPA of £100, you need around 1 in 220 people to open an account. Testing and segmenting the types of businesses a mailer gets posted to can shift the CPA, so there’s some tweaking to be done on that side of things. Anyway, back to the design and messaging...

Tide’s letter is signed by Oliver Prill, CEO and although he probably didn’t actually write it himself, it’s a good conversational letter, which is totally readable with some key messages in tick bullets. Tide’s line about opening a business account shouldn’t be a test of character has been around for a while. Whilst a good challenge to traditional banking, I think customers are savvy enough now to expect that opening a bank account with any fintech should be pretty fast and easy.

It’s direct mail. It’s simple.

Here’s what I think
Starling just nicks it

If you enjoyed this battle, it would be great if you joined the email list. There’s a new battle each week.

If you’re feeling generous perhaps like or retweet the thread on Twitter.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">If you&#39;ve ever wanted to really get stuck into direct mail, then this is the battle for you! <a href="">@StarlingForBiz</a> v <a href="">@TideBusiness</a><br><br>Inspired by <a href="">@Ray5D</a>’s tweets a few weeks back. <a href=""></a><a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#fintech</a></p>&mdash; Fintech Battles™ (@fintechbattles) <a href="">March 17, 2020</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

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I'm a creative director working in fintech and Fintech Battles is a personal project. What you’re reading is my opinion which you may or may not agree with. I'm not paid to do this and I’m not endorsed by any company. I hope you find Fintech Battles useful and reasonably fun. I’d love to get feedback so please get in touch. My friend Dave told me I should write this disclaimer.

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