Direct Mail Offers a Lightbulb Moment for Email-Weary Consumers

Teenage Girl collecting mail from mailbox

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Picture of Ashley Leone

Ashley Leone

When I explain to people what IWCO does, there’s often a bit of head-scratching when I get to our mail services. There’s an automatic assumption that mail is a dying marketing channel. This happened just recently, when I went to my sister’s house to watch a hockey game with her and my brother-in-law, Mike. (I had been at their house during the last game, and so it was now imperative that I didn’t upset the mojo and, as my brother-in-law Mike texted: “It’s on us to will this team to victory. We didn’t ask to do it, but now we have to. We have the entire state of Minnesota on our shoulders—we can’t let down our neighbors and our communities just because we are tired or have to work tomorrow. It’s bigger than us.”)

Before puck drop, the conversation turned to work and how they’d recently heard of one company getting rid of marketing mail. I waved it off and said that was not totally surprising, but that it wouldn’t last. Companies often try to save costs by cutting mail, but they always come back. It’s just not sustainable to run effective direct marketing campaigns without having mail in the mix. Mike balked a bit.

“Really? I think it makes sense. What young kid is looking at their mail?” (Note: anyone under the age of 45 is a “young kid” to Mike.) The answer is a lot of them.

Mail Is Anticipated and Effective, Especially Among Younger Generations

In fact, a whopping 43% of Gen Z and 36% of Millennials collect their mail everyday it’s delivered (an additional 16% of Gen Z and 18% of Millennials check their mailbox 3-5 times a week).

So, fine—they check their mail. But are they really buying anything from those mailers? Oh, you bet.

In a 2022 Keypoint Intelligence consumer survey, 54% of Gen Z made a purchase from direct mail and 64% of Millennials made a purchase, as reported by What They Think. Gen X and Boomers still made purchases from mail, although at lower rates (43 and 26%, respectively). Mike seemed unsure about it all, commenting on all the social media ads and online shopping options that are almost second nature to many of us. While it’s true that younger generations are more likely to engage with digital ads (44% of Gen Z vs. 31% of Boomers), mail was clearly the superior advertising function, blowing purchasing rates from digital out of the water across all generations.

Why Email Alone Isn’t Enough

Mike was shocked, until I put it in perspective. The average office worker receives 121 business-related emails a day and spends 15.5 hours a week going through them. But that’s just at work. More than 306 billion emails are sent every day, and of that, an estimated 36% are related to advertising.

With 25.4% checking their email more than 5 times a day and some checking it 20 times a day, there is severe email overload. Compare that to the average 1.25 marketing mailpieces seen each day, and you can see which marketing message will get the most attention. It was a bit of a light-bulb moment for Mike, who realized that he never reads the emails that his insurance company sends, but always opens their mail because he knows it must be important.

Of course, a combination of marketing channels will always give you the best of both worlds, and the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns will be impacted by how targeted your lists can get and what kind of personalization you can incorporate. There are a lot of factors in play that make a direct marketing campaign successful, and mail is almost always a part of that.

Want to learn more about how direct mail can improve your marketing campaign’s ROI? Contact us. We’re here to help.

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