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Eye on Direct Mail: The Pull of Tactile Marketing in a Digital World
Direct Mail
August 22, 2023

Eye on Direct Mail: The Pull of Tactile Marketing in a Digital World

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In the realm of marketing, the battle for attention is fierce. Digital saturation is reaching new heights, and the open rates for digital communications like broadcast emails are dwindling. Digital communications become lost in the sea of daily notifications, promotions, and spam that inundate our inboxes.

However, the narrative takes a dramatic turn when we shift our gaze to direct mail marketing. 71% of consumers read their direct mail immediately or on the same day they receive it. This stark contrast in engagement levels can be attributed to direct mail's tactile and personal nature, which stands out in our digital-dominated world.

While digital communications struggle to rise above the noise, direct mail marketing cuts through the clutter, commanding attention and engagement in a way that digital simply can't.

The numbers speak for themselves

According to the 2023 State of Direct Mail report, direct mail shows the best return on investment (ROI) for many companies. 74% of marketers agree that direct mail marketing outshines all other channels for delivering the best return on investment, response rate, and conversion rates. Furthermore, they acknowledge that direct mail surpasses email in effectiveness, making it a preferred channel for their company's marketing efforts.

But, there's another set of numbers marketers are looking at when it comes to investing into direct mail as a channel. The statistics that come from the consumers' side. Our 2023 State of Direct Mail Consumer Insights report shows that:

  • 64% of consumers say direct mail has inspired them to take action such as visiting a website or physical location
  • 80% of consumers share direct mail with their friends and family making it more viral than you may think
  • 68% reported they still opt to receive at least some paper statements from brands
  • 71% reported they read direct mail the same day they bring it inside their residence
  • Catalogs and magazines are the most preferred direct mail format, regardless of the relationship with a brand
  • 48% of respondents ages 18-34 agree receiving direct mail from a brand feels special and 49% say it is important to me that brands interact with me beyond the digital space
  • When a brand has an existing relationship with a customer, consumers are more likely to read these types of mail formats: 39% catalogs/magazines, 21% letters and envelopes, 20% brochures, 19% postcards, 2% other

Recommended reading: Get More ROI With Direct Mail Automation

The power of touch

Tactile marketing, often overlooked in the digital age, is a powerful strategy that leverages the sense of touch to create a deeper connection with consumers. It involves using physical materials, such as direct mail, that consumers can interact with in a tangible way. This physical interaction is a stark contrast to the fleeting nature of digital communications, offering a sensory experience that is far more engaging and memorable.

Unlike emails, which are intangible and often get lost in a crowded inbox, direct mail is a physical entity you can touch and feel. The physical act of receiving, holding, and opening a piece of mail creates a personal connection and a sense of anticipation that is hard to replicate digitally. This tangible interaction creates a more intimate relationship between the consumer and the brand, leaving a lasting impression.

There are many ways marketers can tap into the power of touch with their direct mail marketing efforts. Some quick things to think about when it comes to the tactile nature of direct mail include:

  • Format: Your consumers might like to flip through your product catalog, or detach a coupon or card from your mailer or even a small free sample, or find a buckslip inside a printed letter that they can put up on the fridge
  • Engagement: Is your mailer somewhat interactive? We've seen an example of a mailer for an eyewear company that featured an eye test! This was a great way to get people to pick up and handle the mailer to use the test and then let their eyes scan the rest of the mailer and engage further with the call to action
  • Stock: A heavier cardstock can also send a message without using words that your company is invested in producing quality marketing campaigns, as well as quality products or services
  • Coating: Add some gloss with a coating and give customers even more of a sensory experience when handling your direct mail campaign
  • Sustainability: Do you have messaging on your direct mail campaigns about what consumers can do when they're done with it? Such as telling people to recycle or that this mailer was made from recycled materials?

Recommended reading: Best Direct Mail Campaigns: Spotlight on Sustainability

The importance of intelligent direct mail

Standard direct mail operates on a broad-strokes principle. It's akin to casting a wide net, hoping to catch as many fish as possible. This method involves sending a uniform message to a large audience without much regard for individual preferences or behaviors.

Intelligent direct mail marketing, however, is a game-changer because it leverages the power of data and technology to create personalized, timely, and relevant communications. Whether it's a follow-up to a recent purchase or a nudge after a period of inactivity, these timely communications can significantly boost engagement and conversions. They also transform the mail into a meaningful interaction, making the recipient feel seen and valued.

In essence, while standard direct mail shouts a general message into a crowd, intelligent direct mail speaks directly to the individual, delivering a message that resonates. It's a testament to the evolution of direct mail marketing, demonstrating how technology can enhance traditional methods to create more impactful and efficient campaigns.

Recommended reading: The Modern Marketer's Guide to Personalization

The secret ingredient: Creativity

Brands can transform a simple piece of mail into a memorable experience by incorporating unique designs, unexpected formats, or personalized messages. It's about surprising and delighting customers, making them feel special and valued.

For example, you could use a vibrant color palette that stands out in a pile of mail or an innovative layout that breaks away from the traditional letter format. These creative design elements attract attention and make the mail more enjoyable to interact with, enhancing the overall customer experience.

The future of direct mail

Despite economic and budget pressures, marketers are leaning into the channel they know delivers results — direct mail marketing.

Marketers are increasingly recognizing the value of automation technology for targeting, improved data tracking, and high-level personalization. The future of direct mail lies in intelligent campaigns that are personalized, attributed, and sent at any scale.

By leveraging direct mail marketing software, you can understand your customers better, tailor your communications to their needs, and engage with them at the right moments.

Schedule a demo to see how Lob can help you drive results with direct mail.

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