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5 Reasons Direct Mail Leaves a Greater Mark than Digital Ads Blog Feature
Tim Connell

By: Tim Connell on July 11th, 2017

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5 Reasons Direct Mail Leaves a Greater Mark than Digital Ads

Marketing | Direct Mail

Companies and marketers are constantly looking for ways to better connect with their customers and stand out from their competition. At least the smartest ones are.

But prospects (read: people) have an extremely short attention span for advertisements and marketing material. And, for the most part, they block out the thousands of ads they see on a daily basis.

So it begs the question – What types of marketing will truly resonate with your audience and leave a lasting impression?

Ready to leverage hyper-personalized direct mail to convert offline prospects to online customers? Download your copy of Human to Human Personalization At Scale.

 Despite your age-old assumptions, studies have shown that direct mail leaves a greater lasting impact on audiences than digital advertising. But why is that? Here are five of the most important reasons:

1) Direct Mail Has Greater Brand Recall

Canadian neuromarketing firm TrueImpact conducted a study measuring how people process digital and print advertising. The researchers performed eye-tracking tests, high-resolution EEG brain wave measurement, and measured participant’ cognitive load, motivation and attention.

Their study showed that prospects more easily processed direct mail than they could digital advertisements. Here are a couple of important findings from the study:

  • Subjects shown a direct mail piece had a 70% higher recall rate than those who were shown a digital ad
  • Direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media – meaning it’s easier to understand and more memorable

There’s a reason marketers have to spend so much to run a successful digital campaign – It takes more impressions for prospects to remember what they saw, and who the ad was even for. And for this reason (among others), direct mail has a greater ROI than digital advertising.

2) Paper is Scientifically Proven to Leave an Emotional Impact

While prospect recall is surely key, so too is creating an emotional connection with your prospects. Another study, conducted by Bangor University and branding agency Millward Brown, examined the effects of paper and digital media.

Using fMRI to measure brain activity, the researchers found that physical materials produced more brain responses associated with internal feelings. The discovery suggests that prospects internalize these print pieces more than their digital counterparts. The cause likely stems from the fact that physical materials are more “real” to our brains. Direct mail has greater meaning and is better connected to our memory because it engages with our spatial memory networks.

Researchers also found that print advertising better activated the part of our brain tied to desire and valuation. Response in the ventral striatum (it’s medical name) is also known to have the greatest correlation with an advertisements effectiveness.

3) Printed Mail Tends to Linger In Households

The majority of us spend our days and night online, whether checking emails, spending time on social media, searching for birthday gifts or doing some research. And while we’re glued to our screens, we’re being exposed to a seemingly endless number of ads.

In total, Americans are exposed to 5,000 ads per day. But we’ve learned to block out the vast majority of the ads we see. The ones we do remember actually matter to us; they’re relevant. But they’re still flashes in a long day.

When you get something in the mail, however, you hold it in your hands. You sort through it and virtually see everything in your physical mailbox. Unlike digital ads, your attention on the company’s message and branding is much greater. If it doesn’t interest you, you may throw the piece of mail away. But you may simply set the mail down on your kitchen counter or desk and keep it around.

Sitting in your home, you’ll continue to see the direct mail piece until you finally decide to throw it away or actually take a second to learn more. As a marketer, your message has more staying power – It stands a greater chance of resonating with your audience than it would as a digital ad.

4) Checking Mail is a Daily Routine

Checking mail is also a consistent routine for most of us. We go through each piece to make sure we don’t miss anything important – whether a bill we need to pay or a check we’re waiting for. And in that mix of mail is likely a piece or two of from local companies.

According to Canada Post, “Every time [a brand] makes contact with a customer via mail, they embed themselves within it, tapping into the emotions involved, nestling within the intimate home setting, and taking advantage of the brand reinforcement that comes with it’s often prolonged shelf life.”

Studies have even shown how prospects perceive mail:

  • 70% are curious to discover what’s in their mailbox
  • 74% “always or sometimes” notice advertising in their mail
  • 51% prefer when companies communicate with them through a combination of direct mail and email

5) Millennials Respond Better to Direct Mail

Millennials are the first generation to grow up with internet, smartphones and tablets. They’re glued to the internet, constantly snapping photos and videos to their friends, posting on Instagram and scrolling through their Facebook feeds. It’s no surprise that marketers assume that reaching the millennial demographic is a digital exercise.

But the digital realm is the busiest channel for Millennials. And many marketers are discovering the value of using direct mail to boost sales. In fact, an InfoTrends and Prinova study found that 63% of Millennials who responded to a direct mail piece within three months eventually made a purchase.

As much as any generation, Millennials are likely the best demographic at tuning out the bevy of digital ads we’re all exposed to. But they’re not nearly as inundated with direct mail –  not like it previous generations once were. Direct mail has come full circle – For the youngest generations, it’s actually stands out.

Leverage Direct Mail to Make Your Mark

Whether direct mail or digital advertising, it’s hard to go wrong. Putting your message out there is an important step to engaging your potential customers. But is it wise to exclude one of the most effective avenues to new business?

Given its past decline, direct mail can be easily overlooked. And many marketers assume that digital is most effective because it’s “where everyone is.” But you can’t lose sight of the power of personalized direct mail. Not in this new era of marketing.

At the end of the day, you want to leave a lasting impression on your audience. And an integrated marketing campaign that combines both print and digital has the greatest potential to impact your bottom line. The key is creating a personalized story that leaves a lasting impression on each individual prospect.

Want to learn how you can create hyper-personalized direct mail at scale? Click the button below to download Human to Human Personalization At Scale.

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