Direct Mail and Millennials

Let me begin by stating that I personally dislike the term millennials as it is a drastically overused simplification and outright generalisation of how “young people” today think, act and respond.

In the marketing profession, we see this term thrown around constantly and it often seems that everyone wants a piece of the ‘millennial’ pie.

When we think of this demographic we often associate them with being “tech-savvy, self-absorbed, digital natives”.

And this isn’t something I totally disagree with. But it gives rise to the idea that the only way to reach these consumers is on the other side of a 5inch screen.

We know that this group spend around 4 hours a day on mobile devices, but this doesn’t mean it’s the best or only way to connect with them!

Cutting through the clutter

One of the main issues with digital marketing and in particular email marketing is that it is a highly oversaturated space.

Although e-DM can at first seem like a more cost-effective method it faces the ever-increasing battle of cutting through the clutter.

Unlike your letterbox, your inbox does a particularly effective job of sorting your mail into that which you want to read and all the other stuff.

This is great for time conscious 21st-century consumers but not so great for brands looking to communicate with them.

In fact, industry commentators estimate that when it comes to email prospecting campaigns, 95%+ of all emails are never opened.

In addition, the average lifespan of an email is now just 2 seconds. And brand recall directly after seeing a digital ad is just 44%, compared to direct mail which has a brand recall of 75%.

What’s rare is wonderful

When it comes to millennials specifically studies show that 84% look through their mail on a regular basis. And on average, they respond to direct mail quicker than any other age group. With 63% of those who responded within a three-month timeframe going on to make a purchase.

Being within this demographic I can attest to the fact that I rarely receive any physical mail. In fact, the only direct mail I receive is either a bill or a bank statement.

And yet I receive hundreds of emails every month that go unopened due to them being nicely filtered into my Gmail, social and promotions inboxes, and never opened.

So why, despite the evidence that millennials enjoy receiving direct mail do brands continue to opt for the online alternative?

Dominated by digital

Part of the reason is due to these data-backed conclusions still seeming counterintuitive in a world dominated by digital media and marketing.

We know that millennials spend a large amount of their time online but that doesn’t mean that they exclusively want to be contacted there.

The other is the apparent ‘cost-effectiveness’ of e-dm which I have addressed above.

So back to the first point. To understand why the data says what it says, we need to understand the psychology behind direct mail versus digital marketing.

The major disadvantage that digital faces are its lack of tangibility. Direct mail can be three-dimensional: you can touch and feel it; and in some cases, like scratch ‘n’ sniff even smell it.

And this provides a sharp contrast to the fleeting world of digital advertising, and this helps it stand out and make a positive impression.

In fact, studies have shown that tangible marketing materials leave a deeper impact on the brain and produce more brain responses connected with emotions, which suggests greater internalization.

Greater Engagement

In this way, direct marketing material is often more effective because it generates longer lasting and more significant reactions than those delivered in a digital format.

This isn’t to say that digital marketing should be scrapped in favour of its traditional counterpart. In fact, we would argue that to create a truly great campaign the two should be used in tandem, transitioning the reader from direct mail to the internet.

QR codes are an effective way to engage the reader with direct mail and be instantaneously linked to the website they’re looking for.

In fact, 51% prefer companies to use a combination of mail & email.

So why not contact us today to find out how you can integrate your next marketing campaign to create the immersive experience your millennial consumers crave.


Interested in finding out more about Direct Mail? Get in touch today!