The Daily Mail’s inspired postcard-by-mobile strategy: Hugmail (and it’s run by MIR favourites, Touchnote!)

It’s hard to fault The Daily Mail. Whatever your perspective on the paper’s politics or policies, the company is doing a phenomenal job. Only this week they’ve announced that they’ve beaten The New York Times to deliver the world’s number one daily news site.

Mail Online is staggeringly smart. Whilst I will admit to wondering just why anybody from TOWIE (“The Only Way is Essex”) warrants any coverage whatsoever, you can’t argue with an average of 6.25 million readers each day last month.

The company’s mobile strategy is working very well indeed. Their mobile apps are hugely popular and their iPad offering is highly compelling. So I’m already well disposed to being pretty impressed with whatever they do digitally.

But when I heard that the company had decided to launch Hugmail, I did have to think, “Smart move.”

In fact I remember being moved to saying the words out loud involuntarily.

Hugmail is a joint offering from Mobile Industry Review favourites, Touchnote and agency BBH. Regular readers will know that I absolutely adore the concept of taking digital photos and having them delivered physically. For the longest time I’ve been using Touchnote to send regular photos to all my relatives. My gran actually has a photo album dedicated to storing Touchnote postcards I send of our little boy Archie.

My biggest frustration with Touchnote is that the huge media companies haven’t typically “got” the concept. They’re trying to reinvent themselves all over the place but often failing miserably.

But the Daily Mail? They’ve created an awesome partnership to bring photos-by-postcard to the masses.

I think it’s a genius idea. I think it’s simply brilliant to see this sort of thing get mainstream appeal. I can understand why they want to “own” the end-to-end concept by white-labelling the Touchnote service. That makes a lot of sense — especially when they’ve got the ability to reach millions of customers.

They’ve called their service Hugmail. That works on quite a few levels. It’s not a simple re-brand of Touchnote though. It takes the Touchnote model and builds on it. For example, the Hugmail app features a reminder function. I’ve been screaming at Touchnote to do this for ages! You can opt to be prompted to send granny a photo every week/month or similar.

Take a look at the messaging they’re using though. Here’s a copy of their recent ad in The Sunday Mail magazine (click to enlarge):

The blurb reads:

Photos are precious memories. So why leave them buried on a mobile or PC? What if you could turn one into a postcard and send it to someone special? Your parents or grandparents maybe, or someone who doesn’t spend as much time online as you.

Love it — particularly the last sentence!

It’s incredibly important to keep the older generations in touch with the younger ones, especially in today’s always-on networked society. It’s so easy for the older generations to be disconnected from the rest of the world. Taking 30 seconds out of your day once a week to send a photo to an elderly relative is something I’d like to see us all do more regularly.

What also excites me are the possibilities for the mobile industry.

There must me millions of Daily Mail readers with iPhones (let’s leave the other platforms out for the moment). A lot of those readers won’t necessarily have bothered much with apps beyond downloading The Daily Mail app(s) and perhaps playing Angry Birds. Routinely when I’m out with normobs — that is, normal mobile users — folk are astonished at the Touchnote concept.

I always get comments such as, “What, you can actually SEND the photo as a REAL postcard? Like via the post?”

I reckon there’s a good demographic of people — females, in particular — who, when they discover what can be done with the likes of Touchnote (or, Hugmail, in this context), will seriously embrace it.

I remember being similarly excited when mainstream media and brands began to experiment with text messaging. Indeed if memory serves I think it was my good friend Ilana Fox who introduced text message feedback to one of the Daily Mail properties — London Lite I think.

When you see big media companies embrace the technology in this manner, it’s usually good news for the mobile industry.

Although I wonder if the incumbents will be able to handle the pressure. Where are the Hallmark and American Greetings in this space? Staring at the wall, wondering precisely how to justify their existence to an increasingly mobilised world perhaps? 😉

Nice work Touchnote. Nice work BBH. Super work Daily Mail!

It used to be said that in order for a mobile company to “make it”, they had to get a deal with a mobile operator. I wonder if that should now read “media company” rather than “mobile operator”.

The jury is certainly still out on Hugmail. It’s only just launched. But their market entry position looks spot on and I reckon the time is perfect (in terms of iPhone ownership, propensity to spend via mobile and so on).

So every success to The Daily Mail, BBH and Touchnote. Good luck!

You can get Hugmail in the iOS App Store or on the Android Marketplace or access the whole service via the web at

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