It’s long been documented that printed flyers, direct mail, brochures and banners, in the physical world, can create a longer lasting impression than digital communications. Particularly with people spending over 24 hours a week online as we’re constantly bombarded with email, digital ads, social media – everyone vying for your attention. With this in mind, brands are having to work harder and harder to be remembered. This is one of our key messages as a business, there’s no point putting out messaging if it’s not valuable, or memorable.

Until recently, there wasn’t a huge amount of science or research behind the effects of mail to reinforce your decision and spend with mail. Traditionally the only measurement you could rely on was response rates from door drops or direct mail, which handed initiative over to digital communications as the preferred choice. That is until our friends over at the Royal Mail conducted a study into the neuroscience behind mail. It’s something that I found really fascinating and something that I thought would be valuable to readers of our blog.

So how did they go about it?

In short, mail was remembered more than emails and social media advertising. The study found that mail was processed for longer in the part of the memory that looks after long term memory, meaning that it was more likely to be retained later. The messages that are remembered more are also more likely to spur action later on in time.

Mail was remembered 49% more than email and 35% more than social media advertising.

What was the outcome?

Looking good is great, but if your user experience is clunky and laborious, then you are going to turn off many of your visitors from exploring your website, returning for more information and certainly from recommending you to anyone else.

Ideally, you never want users to be more than two clicks away from the information they’re after. Make it easy for them to navigate and enjoy the experience on your website.

We’d always recommend making your contact details regular throughout your page so you can encourage consumers to get in touch with you if they want to learn more.

Mail boost the effectiveness of other channels too

As someone who loves print but also sees the power of digital (and the speed at which you can measure digital communications), this next part of the study was really interesting to me.

If you send out direct mail in advance of a digital campaign, then this will actually boost the memory response when viewing social media adverts from 3.3 seconds to 4.3 seconds, suggesting that the direct mail has made the reader view the content on social more thoroughly after getting something physical in the mail. With this in mind, including direct mail with your digital campaigns could drive engagement and response rates.

Mail isn’t just for the older generation either

To further the study’s findings, the Royal Mail also found that under 35’s were equally responsive to the stimulus of mail, suggesting that digital natives would still be receptive to a relevant physical direct mail – up to 75% of under 35’s would go on to buy something from a result of door drops.

Source: Royal Mail MarketReach, The Life Stages of Mail, 2016

Is Mail For Everybody and Every Business?

Whilst there is no doubt of the effectiveness of mail as a medium, it’s not for everyone and it does have the drawback of often being considerably more expensive compared to digital. On top of this, you have the drawback of not gaining those instant measurable metrics that you can from an email or digital campaigns. That said, I think in a targetted and well-planned campaign combined with digital, print as a whole can offer much stronger results and drive your marketing objectives harder.

If anything in this blog sounds of interest and you would like to discuss, print, digital or creative services, please contact us and we’d love to hear from you.

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The Neuroscience Behind Why Mail Cuts Through

Written By Adam Burrage
Managing Partner at Trident