This is not your parents’ direct mail

This is not your parents’ direct mail

How a new fascination with an “old” channel is driving a resurgence in print

Overflowing inboxes and a barrage of pop-ups have decreased our attention spans and caused ‘inbox triage strategies’ that delete messages literally in the blink of an eye. Printed direct mail, on the other hand, makes you at least pause while you decide if the envelope deserves to be opened. It’s this tangible interaction that makes print such a memorable and valuable link in the customer acquisition chain. According to a Canada Post report, 74% of Canadian consumers always or sometimes notice advertising in direct mail, while 86% of Canadian consumers open mail that’s personally addressed to them.  Whether you’re producing a digital or printed direct mail campaign, it requires that you know to whom it’s going and what type of an offer (call-to-action) matters enough to prompt an open or click. The CMO Council (a network of marketing executives and decision makers from a wide range of global industries) forecasts that direct mail volume will increase at an average of 4% or 5% annually. 

People may shy away from direct mail for any number of reasons. Cost is a primary concern and so is ‘fear of print.’ This is because the digital landscape has changed the way print is purchased and consumed. However, new technologies, presses, software, papers, inks, finishes and more have opened infinite business potential for both seasoned and new print providers. It’s also why printers are uniquely poised to reduce fear, expose print’s value and drive more profits. Integrated direct mail and digital campaigns boost attention spans – people spend 39% more time engaging in direct mail versus digital campaigns alone, cites Canada Post.

Direct mail is data-driven

For a long time, personalization meant simply inserting someone’s first name and/or last name into a form field throughout a document. Today, technology has liberated us with unlimited data mining, audience segmentation and predictive modeling opportunities. Looking at the data through a variety of lenses, you can isolate the information that’ll help you embrace and then entice a new generation of print buyers. Late in October 2019, Prime Data – a data-driven direct-mail and marketing solutions provider – began offering direct mail and inkjet printing through Print Three locations across Canada. Direct mail, whether digital or print, is only as good as the data driving it. It’s why data-driven companies like Prime Data are partnering with print providers like Print Three – and why marketers are very excited. 

Print transcends generations

One of the major factors driving growth in the print industry is the increasing need to keep customers engaged through communication over every channel they use. According to Forbes, Generation Z and millennials combined are the biggest consumer group in history and will soon account for $4 billion in discretionary spending. Highly personalized and customized direct mail engages these buyers with a memorable brand experience. Adding textures and finishes like embossing, debossing, raised ink, foil, or glitter teases people to do more than just see the print. It entices them to a truly unique sensory experience that screams out “touch me!” According to the USPS, 84% of millennials take the time to look through their mail, 87% like receiving direct mail, 57% have made purchases based on direct mail offers, and 50% say they like to discover what the mail brings every day – and consider looking at and reading it as time well spent.

Print is ‘phygital’

Simply put, ‘phygital’ solutions enable brands to bridge the physical-digital gap and engage customers with an experience that transcends platforms, devices and locations. Brands like Netflix, Amazon, Shopify and Nike are using physical stores and “pop-ups” to provide memorable, immersive experiences that showcase a wonderland of print. Using neuroscience, Canada Post showed how physical print-mail increased conversions when combined with digital e-mail. Integrating direct mail with digital was actually better at driving consumer actions than just using one or the other. Combined, the results drew 39% more attention, 10% more brand awareness and 5% more interest in the brand messaging.

Print is a premium channel

For a while, direct mail (“junk mail” as we called it decades ago) was abandoned in favour of digital. Today, this premium channel is being embraced as an integral part of the customer acquisition process – through multichannel campaigns founded on the psychology of marketing and behavioural science – to connect with a new generation of print and business buyers. Its resurgence is obvious.


Joanne Gore

Joanne Gore is a B2B marketer who’s passionate about print and has spent the last three decades helping companies maximize their marketing and communications efforts. Founder of Joanne Gore Communications, she helps companies tell their story to a new generation of print and business buyers. Email: Follow her on Twitter: @joannegore121