By Andrew Field, Published March 6, 2014
Whether you realize it or not, everyone has end-of-day rituals. You get home, take off your shoes, greet your family, think about what to do for dinner, and, most likely, check the mail.
Direct marketers and the U.S. Postal Service refer to this daily ritual as “the mail moment” — the moment when consumers go through their mail and explore what it has to offer. This moment provides marketers the unique opportunity to take advantage of a consumer’s undivided attention, and tactile marketing is impervious to spam filters.
Given the topic, I have to admit that I feel slightly hypocritical for delivering this information in a digital format. I would have preferred to mail this to you on a crisp, 70#, bright white piece of paper — you’d be more likely to remember it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have your addresses.
The Psychology Behind Print
In a recent article by Scientific American, studies show that as we read, our brains comprehend text by correlating the message with the physical landscape of the tactile piece. When we see a message in print (versus a screen), our brains create a lasting memory response because the message’s landscape is tangible. Physical attributes of the tactile piece, such as thickness, shape, texture, and the material’s surface, folds, and corners, help the brain form a mental map of the message. Simply put, print allows potential customers to follow that mental map back to your business.
Four Reasons to Use Print
From connecting with customers to increasing response rates, below are four benefits to adopting tactile marketing:
1. It has staying power. Print cannot be easily deleted or sent to a spam folder — it requires some form of interaction. Through the sensory elements of tactile marketing, even if the “mail moment” is brief, the likelihood of a person seeing and engaging with your message is far higher than digital alone.
2. It forms a connection. Because our brains are able to create a lasting memory of printed text, customers automatically feel a stronger connection to a direct mail piece than an email. In fact, according to a Print in the Mix survey, 56 percent of respondents said they found printed materials to be the “most trustworthy” of media channels. The same survey also found that nearly half of respondents had retained a direct mail piece for future reference.
Here’s a great example from EuroMed that delivered an instant connection through direct mail. The direct mail piece featured a creative pop-up heel and a sample of the company’s blister care product. By investing time and a little extra effort, EuroMed increased its customer-brand connection.
3. It increases response rates. Reliance on digital alone can make customers feel as though they’re being spammed; in response, they avoid connecting with emails that may contain worthwhile messages. According to the CMO Council, the average response rate for email is 0.12 percent, whereas direct mail is 4.4 percent.
One solid example comes from Max Delivery. It uses the Every Door Direct Mail system to reach entire neighborhoods without having to purchase lists or permits. It’s one of the most economical and scalable options for a growing business.
4. It strengthens digital. A study done by the Printing Industries of America found that shoppers who receive a direct mail piece pointing them to an online site spend an average of 13 percent more than those who do not receive a printed piece.
It’s not about choosing one over the other. Tactile and digital work synergistically. Tactile strengthens digital channels, creating true multichannel campaigns.
I’ll leave you with this Reuter’s article from a few years ago as an entertaining reminder of why digital marketing shouldn’t be your only play.
When Unlimited IT, an information technology company in South Africa, wanted to point out the problems of modern communication, it used Telkom, an Internet service provider, as its example. Complaints of slow speeds and frustrations with bandwidth were common, so Unlimited IT enlisted the help of an 11-month-old carrier pigeon, Winston.
With a 4 GB memory card strapped to his leg, Winston traveled 50 miles in one hour and eight minutes. Once he arrived at the location, the files were downloaded, resulting in a total travel and download time of two hours, six minutes, and 57 seconds. In this same amount of time, a Telkom Internet connection only downloaded 4 percent of the data.
Digital marketing certainly has its place, but it can’t compare to the personal touch of direct mail — especially mail delivered by a carrier pigeon. The “mail moment” can help you stay in others’ memory banks by giving them something tangible to remember you by. Don’t miss out on your chance to make an impression.