Do You Know the Science Behind Direct Mail Marketing?

The art of sending out greeting cards has been around for quite some time. In fact, the first greeting card in the U.S. can be dated back to 1906, when a young Polish immigrant began selling Christmas cards out of his horse-drawn carriage. But sending out greeting cards dates even further back to the 15th century, when China would send out new year cards and in Egypt when greeting cards were sent out on papyrus.

Why is this mini-history lesson important?

Because it points out that before the digital age there was a tried, trusted and true method to keep in contact. When our world pressed pause with the pandemic and people became more isolated, sending cards, and mail in general, experienced a resurgence. People began to crave a more personal touch than a generic email. Here are some recent stats from a study that USPS conducted in 2020 and how mail mattered.

Why is sending a marketing mail campaign a good idea?

It’s a bit of a surprise, but it’s because the benefits of direct mail are embedded in science. That’s right, marketing and science collide in a theory called neuromarketing. 

Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system. In layman’s terms, a complex bundle of nerves and cells that send signals from the brain to the body.  

So, the term neuromarketing utilizes certain tools such as brain imaging to measure people’s (consumer’s) responses to certain marketing tactics. By utilizing neuromarketing, those in marketing can reveal the deep-seated physiological response drivers of consumers and how to get them to take action. 

In 2015, Canada Post paired up with leading neuromarketing research and strategy firm True Impact Marketing to conduct an extensive study to determine the effectiveness of physical versus digital advertising on consumer’s brains.

Their study found that direct mail outperformed its digital counterpart. The research was based on 2 indicators: understanding and persuasiveness when looking at the corresponding brain imaging metrics. Direct mail came out the winner on both fronts and proved to be the most effective advertising media.

The reasons for this lies in the physical format of a mailed item that stimulates the underlying mental processes that guide consumer behavior.

Here are 4 more awesome insights from the study:

1. Direct mail is easier to understand and more memorable than digital media. 

It requires 21% less cognitive effort to process and elicits a much higher brand recall. Post-exposure memory tests validated what the cognitive load test revealed about direct mail’s memory encoding capabilities. When asked to cite the brand (company name) of an advertisement they had just seen, participants’ recall was 70% higher if they were exposed to a direct mail piece (75%) rather than a digital ad (44%).

2. Direct mail is far more persuasive than digital media. 

Direct mail’s motivation score was 20% higher than digital’s score (6.77 vs. 5.52) and 30% higher than the neuromarketing benchmark for motivation (5.2).

3. Direct mail is visually processed quicker than digital media. 

When considered in concert with its higher motivation and lower cognitive load, this suggests it gets the message across faster. Digital requires more brainpower than direct mail. This is a critical point because consumers always prefer the path of least resistance, and direct mail offers exactly that.

4. Direct mail is more likely to drive behavior than digital media. 

Advertisements that yield a motivation-to-cognitive load ratio of 1 or higher are considered the most predictive of in-market success or likely to trigger the desired action from the consumer. In this study, only direct mail surpassed this important threshold: Direct mail achieved a motivation-to-cognitive load ratio of 1.31; Digital media achieved a motivation-to-cognitive load ratio of just 0.87.

The study broke down their findings based on the age groups they tested and found that direct mail’s motivation-to-cognitive load ratio exceeded both the threshold and digital media’s score across all three age groups tested – 18 to 29, 30 to 49 and 50 to 64 year-olds. 

Interestingly, the 30 to 49-year-old group exhibited both the highest response to direct mail (1.31) and the lowest response to digital media (0.84), followed by the 18-to 29-year-olds (1.25 vs. 0.89) and the 50 to 64 year-olds (1.03 vs. 0.89).

What makes a greeting card stand out?

Greeting cards are slightly different from a standard postcard letting your clients or prospects know about an offering or a listing.

Greeting cards are meant to be another memorable touchpoint that elicits some reaction that will make you stand out from the competition. They should always be sent in an envelope, so it has a more personal touch than just a postcard. Plus, oversized envelopes (that your greeting cards come in) have the highest response rates than other direct mail and digital media options (according to Hubspot).

Greeting cards should include a simple message as well as sharp images and include a call to action. These messages can be based around a holiday, changing of the seasons, asking for referrals or simply thanking your consumers for their business. It is important for you to include your contact information on it as well, or else how will they know how to get in touch?

We never recommend sending a one-off mailing campaign because it takes more than 1 touchpoint to remain memorable.  That’s why we designed quarterly greeting cards, professionally designed, that we can print off and mail to you so they’re ready to be sent to your contacts or clients at key months of the year or important milestones you’re celebrating together. 

If you are interested to see greeting card designs that start with a Springtime mail out, simply fill out the request form here, and we’ll also prepare your quote.