A lot of the talk around email versus snail mail presents it as an either/or proposition. Like everything in life, this debate does not have a clear winner and the answer generally starts with ‘it depends…’
Obviously, being in the print industry we are a bit biased towards snail mail – but that might be because of our age demographic more than anything else! However, the research is showing that millennials are not as electronics biased as we might think. Millennials indicate that they prefer studying from printed-on-paper books and they prefer printed direct mail to electronic solicitations.
Here are a few other points in the snail mail court:
It’s more personal. There’s no doubt that the thrill of getting a handwritten letter surpasses that of getting an email. Direct mail can easily be personalized in multiple ways – not only in merging names, but also adding personalized notes and different designs and colors to different targeted demographics.
It’s a tactile experience. There is a connection between tactile senses and memory. In other words, touching the mail helps to put it into memory – leaving a lasting impression of your message.
It engages emotions. Between the personalization and tactile aspects noted above – as well as any images and text you include, emotions are engaged. The same text in an email – even with images – will not have the same impact once you add in the tactile and personalization aspects.
It’s reliable. For all of the grumbling you may hear about the USPS, it has a great track record for reliability. Considering the deluge of emails that so many people are experiencing, the chances of a stamped mail piece getting opened and read as opposed to an email solicitation are high.
There are some very exciting advances in printing technology that are keeping direct mail as a viable resource for businesses and non-profit organizations. Whether you are soliciting funds for a non-profit or wanting to get the word out about your business, sending printed material through the USPS is effective and worthwhile. It’s not the only answer, of course. Doing any method exclusively is going to result in missing people you want to reach. Given all of the options available to people as well as their individual preferences, your best approach is a multi-level approach combining print and digital.