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Why Direct Mail is Still Relevant

The Power of Physical Promotional Materials

When incorporated into the integrated marketing mix, direct mail can make a lasting impression, and deliver positive results. Research shows that customers, including the millennial demographic, view direct mail as the most trustworthy form of communication from marketers. They feel a more emotional connection to physical mail than email or other digital channels, and respond especially well to creative and colorful stand-out pieces.

The emotional connection to your mailbox, not your inbox

It’s the feeling evoked from the Norman Rockwell “Jolly Postman” painting (image source Wiki Art), or the Marvelettes 1961 hit “Please Mr. Postman” – we just don’t feel the same connection to email and digital marketing. Yes, digital marketing absolutely works (or you wouldn’t be reading this blog), but consumers cannot deny the feeling of receiving something personal in the mailbox. Even if it was junk mail and was immediately tossed it in the recycle bin, they looked at it, connected with it, and made a decision.

“Direct mail advertisements give people time to think. They provide new ideas with the space to grow into the things we didn’t know we wanted. These ideas morph into our must-have purchases.”
-Chris Barr, Neil Patel Blog

Data from the U.S. Postal Service showed that 98 percent of people check their mail daily. When compared to “junk” or promotional emails backed up in inboxes, sales pieces in the physical mail box have a much better chance of being read (USPS Study).

The emotional response also triggers the trust factor. According to a recent HubSpot article, 25% of Americans feel that direct mail is more trustworthy than email or other digital forms of communication. It makes sense, when customers can touch and see the message from marketers, it creates more authentic engagement than even the most clever subject line in an email.

“60% said this [emotional] effect made a more lasting mental impression on them, making it easier to recall later on. 57% of respondents said that postcard marketing makes them feel more valued and creates a more authentic relationship.”
-Steven Pulcinella, Forbes.com

Reaching the constantly-connected millennials

Can the younger audiences – the ruling class of the digital era – be reached with old-school direct mail? Yes, even the millennials that are too young to appreciate the Norman Rockwell reference do connect with the novelty and authenticity of direct mail. A Gallup poll reported millennials (under the age of 30) look forward to checking their REAL mailboxes daily. 95% of 18-29-year-olds have a positive response to receiving personal mail. In fact, response rates for 18-21-year-olds have increased significantly in the past couple years (from DMA).

Another USPS study found that this demographic spends more time sorting through their mail than any generation – for marketers that means a higher potential for increased time reading, organizing and engaging with promotional materials. This can be due to the millennial generation’s love for authenticity and brand experiences. An article from the Washington Times states that this demographic wants to participate with a brand’s marketing and “align themselves with an authentic cause.”

“They’ve been exposed to a much bigger world than we ever were as a result of unprecedented economic progress, technological advances, and social media…The more authentic you are to their experience, the more connected they will be to your product or service.”
-Colby B. Jubenville, Washington Times

 Your marketing mix should still include direct mail – here’s why:

ROI: Although direct mail may cost more to produce, the results can be more lucrative. The DMA states that the direct mail household response rate is roughly 5.1%, and 2.9% for prospect lists (compared to 0.6% email, 0.6% paid search, 0.2% online display, 0.4% social media).
Creativity: Direct mail is perhaps the most tangible way to show innovation to your customers. Clever subject lines, bold pop-up ads and emails could never surpass the countless forms direct mail can take. When combined with digital strategy components, the possibilities are boundless.
Emotional Connection: A USPS study showed that while participants had a similar engagement level on digital and physical ads, individuals exposed to physical ads “experienced heightened excitement and greater subjective valuation and desirability for the items advertised.”
Trust and Authenticity: Building strong, authentic and trustworthy relationships with potential and current customers is essential for sales and continued business.