The Mail Will Go On

In an era of social isolation, distancing, and quarantine, businesses are trying to learn new mechanisms to conduct business with remote staff, sheltering customers, and loads of uncertainty.  Social media and digital communication may temporarily ameliorate the need to connect, yet too often we find ourselves in overload and in need a little more human touch.  While touching for good reason has become taboo, we can gravitate towards things that offer comfort, familiarity, and a sense of normalcy.  Yes, this might mean things like mac and cheese, ice cream, or pizza.  But believe it or not, mail may be one of those things too.  Before grandparents could send eCards, Face Time™, or text – when an envelope addressed to us arrived, there was a sense of excitement.  It was personal, specifically for me, and a point of connection.

Over the years, many of us have heard that mail was going the way of the dinosaurs.  The simple reality is it will not.  Just as we do not communicate through one medium, in an interconnected world, we expect to receive calls, emails, texts, use social media, and yes, receive physical mail.  We can easily become fatigued by too many emails, texts, and time on social media.

When used in concert with other forms of communication, direct mail will continue to grow as a channel to create a personalized experience.  Companies that choreograph their marketing efforts utilizing various mediums will see the best return on investment. When campaigns incorporate both digital and direct mail, the results are amplified.  According to the Direct Marketing Association, direct mail has an average response rate of 9% for house lists and 4.9% for prospect lists campaign.  Smart marketers are combining two mediums by utilizing email to announce an important piece of mail is coming.  This type of “teaser” scenario piques curiosity and builds anticipation.  To compliment this initiative, recipients who use Informed Delivery™ offered by the USPS can monitor mail movement.

Why are we so confident about the longevity of mail usage?  Aside from its endurance, mail also comes down to science.  Neuroscience studies show that our brain processes and retains more information when we can touch and read a physical piece of mail versus email.  Using three metrics, cognitive load (ease of understanding), motivation (persuasiveness), and attention (how long the person engages with the piece), researchers discovered direct mail was easier to mentally process and had better brand recall.

As people stay at home due to COVID-19 they may be looking for comfort as they settle into patterns of behavior.  For those marketing to during these times, greater sensitivity and language must be used.  Images that reinforce a message of empathy, social consciousness, and safety awareness will transcend more effectively.  Additionally, marketers are cautioned to not exploit the situation or leverage the pandemic as a lucrative opportunity.

We are learning new ways and methods to reach our current and future customers.  Direct marketing insights are emerging to assist organizations in navigating new waters.  Given the changing landscape, we may need to rethink how we approach our targeted audience.  Beyond the message, timing of our mailing may shift.  With B2B marketing, many companies are working with minimum staff, encouraging employees to work from home.  Marketing pieces may not reach the appropriate person under these conditions.  Conversely, with more attention paid to mail, B2C marketing may be timely.

In an ever-changing world, few things are enduring.  Amazingly, mail has proven to be resilient surviving decades of change.  When used correctly, your brand may be remembered not only for the product or service you offer, but for good corporate citizenship and as a company that can be counted upon.