Yes, we all know it’s a digital world out there, but guess what? People still like to receive and respond to direct mail. According to DMA’s 2018 40th Edition Statistical Fact Book, response rates for House files jumped 37% and Prospect files almost 3 times from just a few years ago. Even Millennials who have a strong relationship with technology love direct mail. As noted in the USPS Mail Moments Review, 84% of Millennials take the time to look through their mail and 64% would rather scan for useful information in the mail than email.
So we reached out to some movers in the advertising and marketing space, and here’s what they had to say about why direct mail is critical in the digital age.
Direct Mail is…
1. Intrusive – Unlike a website or social media, direct mail is an “active” format. Customers may find their way to your website on their own, but a direct mail piece in their mailbox is an active tap on the shoulder that online-only activities don’t allow… and it won’t get overlooked in a crowded inbox like email.
2. Tactile – According to Neuroscience research, the simple act of touching something, like direct mail, can trigger the “Endowment Effect,” subconsciously increasing the perceived value of the brand and its products in the eyes of the recipient (Sappi; The Neuroscience of Touch). You can feel a mailpiece in your hands. You can hear an envelope or tab tear open. You might even be able to smell it … scratch-and-sniff is a compelling addition. Websites and email cannot compare to this experience.
3. Personalized – Everyone loves to feel recognized. Whether it’s working the recipient’s name into a headline, or calling attention to products they’ve previously purchased, personalization can give your direct mail piece an advantage in the mailbox. There was a time when personalization was so expensive, that it might cripple the ROI. Today, DM personalization technology has increased dramatically, lowering costs and greatly improving in print quality.
4. Integrated – Direct mail is an important piece of your contact strategy; it should not be the only piece. Build your mail plan with direct mail as a component, a cog in a larger machine. Use email to pre-announce mailings or to remind customers of an expiring offer. Push traffic to your website for convenient ordering. Use QR codes or augmented reality to drive to your mobile sites. Tie in social media, using your catalog to promote the online presence. One channel should never replace the other, and all channels should work together to form a unified campaign. Lois Brayfield – Owner and CEO, J. Schmid
5. High Tech – Direct Mail can be disruptive and engaging. You can expand the canvas of a traditional direct mail piece by including a video display screen so recipients can take a tour, see your products and learn about benefits. Incorporate QR or AR to engage, entertain and drive traffic to your mobile sites. Use NFC or dot-less QR or virtual reality to wow your customers and prospects. Jon Affatato – Executive Council Member, Print in the Digital Age
6. Welcomed – These days, we’re each consuming 8-10 hours of media per day. According to Google, only 10% of our daily media interactions are non-screen based. Print has become the quiet among the noise, a welcomed break—and now the more time we spend on screens, the more we value the time we are not. We should all be using this to our advantage by sending powerful, relevant, and timely printed media as an integral element in our marketing mix. Trish Witkowski, Foldfactory.com
In a world if increasing digital engagement, the use of Direct Mail has declined. As a result, response rates increase as mail clutter reduces. Take advantage of the declining usage to engage more and make your work stand out. Tiffany Miller, American Express
7. Valued – Mail is personal; the printed word harkens back to hand-written notes and birthday cards. It connects us, something email cannot do. Digital channels are fast and cheap, but so is an internet crash and a computer virus. Erin Wang, American Express
8. Noticed – In one week, the average American receives over 500 emails but just 26 pieces of direct mail. In order to keep up with the email volume, most people are forced to make a split second decision whether to delete, open and read their promotional email, with a top open rate of 20-30%. The average person takes 10-20 minutes to look through their mail, with the DM open rate at 80%+.
9. MEMORABLE – According to the research firm True Impact, a study comparing paper to digital found that direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media. Those that received direct mail were able to recall the brand 75% of the time vs. 44% for digital media. And unlike email, a direct mail package can stay in the home for weeks.
10. Trusted – Nowadays, we don’t know for sure that every digital communication is real – that it’s not a phishing attack designed to steal our personal information. Direct Mail is tangible and real, there’s no question about that. Alan Sherman, VP Marketing Strategy, IWCO
11. Green. Yes, We Said “Green” – The EPA reports that more than 65% of paper used in the US is collected for recycling, and through successful land management, we have 20 million more trees now, than a century ago. In addition, the paper industry has been making their own bio fuel for over 50 years, known as black liquor, a natural by-product of the paper making process. Paper is biodegradable, renewable, and sustainable product. Working forests are good for the environment and provide clean air and water, wildlife habitat and carbon storage. Terry Ramakers, American Express and Chuck Leavell, Wall Street Journal