Submitted by: Ulbe Jelluma 08/11/2017
As millennials and post-millennials spend ever more time on their smartphones, does the answer to engaging them actually lie in print media? Conventional wisdom dictates that marketers should target these demographics in the digital space – yet, actually, the doorstop (ideally with a digital call to action) is better.
Millennials – a group that accountancy firm Deloitte predicts will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025 - overwhelmingly live on their screens, phones and tablets, leading many to believe that digital marketing is the only effective way to target this valuable demographic. Numerous recent studies confirm that direct mail marketing is often more effective, trusted and enjoyed than their digital counterparts.
And for good reason: Radicati Group research shows that 17.3% of emails sent are classified as spam; those that escape the filter may find themselves jostling for attention among hundreds more. Add in banners, pop-ups, retargeting ads and in-stream advertising – and that’s a whole lot of digital noise.
Tapping into the “Mail Moment”
By comparison, people receive fewer letters than ever, and communications that land through the letter box hang around for longer.
United States Postal Service research found that 47% of millennials look forward to checking their mailbox each day, something McCann Worldgroup’s chief Harris Diamond calls the “Mail Moment”. Yet too few companies are attempting to target millennials in this moment.
The USPS found that 40% of millennials read direct mail thoroughly, compared to only 18% of non-millennials. They also discovered that millennials spend more time reading mail compared to other generations: an average of 9.7 minutes each day, compared to 7.9 minutes for Generation X and 8 minutes for Baby Boomers.
The UK’s Royal Mail reported similar findings last year in its The Life Stages of Mail report. Its demographic profiling is slightly different but still shows that younger people respond positively. “[The] findings contradict the beliefs of some marketers that younger people – millennials included – don’t respond to mail,” it noted. “They do – even though they get a lot less of it than the older groups.”
‘Fledglings’ – deemed younger adults still living at home – were “highly positive” about mail. More than a quarter agreed that they trust the mail/post they receive through the door and 21.4% agreed that they were “more likely to trust mail more than information they find on the internet”.
Take McDonalds. When the fast food giant announced the launch of McDelivery in the UK this summer, it turned to Royal Mail Door Drop.
The communication, in the distinctive shape of a McDonald’s fry package, targets householders in the trial delivery areas of London, Leeds and Nottingham and aims to tap into a growing appetite for on-demand takeaways, driven by smartphone apps and the internet.
The door drop urges readers to download the UberEats app that will manage the delivery service.
Stand Out Amongst the Digital Clutter
This means that advertisers who do use mail to target this group have the opportunity to stand out. Unlike other media, they may have little or no competition from other advertisers’ messages.
And neurological research carried out by Millward Brown shows that tangible marketing materials such as direct mail, leave a deeper impact on the brain and produce more brain responses connected with emotions.
For instance, material shown on cards generated more activity within the area of the brain associated with the integration of visual and spatial information, suggesting that physical material is more “real” to the brain. Physical materials produced more brain responses connected with internal feelings, suggesting greater “internalization” of the ads.
Direct mail’s tangibility provides a sharp contrast to the fleeting world of digital advertising, and this helps it stand out and make a positive impression – but with millennials spending so much time online, the savvy marketer will enable digital calls to action. Millennials may use a digital channel to respond to an item of mail, whether ordering from it or searching for more information about the company or product.
Why digital technology makes more of your direct mail
Technology such as QR codes and scannable coupons are effective because they enable the reader to engage with the direct mail and be instantaneously linked to the website they are looking for. You can also enhance your mailpiece with Augmented Reality, digital, interactive elements devised for mobile devices and tablets.
Marketers wanting to reach Millennials who live in the digital realm may well find they have more success right on their doorstep. With limited daily mail each day, direct mail can create the cut through needed to reach its audience, and enhance that power by inviting its audience to journey online for more.