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Why Direct Mail Works

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Aaron Montgomery Ward is considered the inventor of mail order processes and direct marketing; he created his mail-order business in 1872, launching with a one-page catalog. Richard Warren Sears followed soon after in the 1880s, mailing flyers to rural and small-town customers to sell watches, the first instance of reaching customers directly through the mail to announce products and sales.1

While the methods of printing and distribution have transformed dramatically over time, the ingrained psychological value of direct mail has not!

Many of us have memories of being children receiving mail and all the joy that came with it. Birthday cards from relatives, catalogs for our favorite toy stores, postcards from friends on vacation. It was the excitement and mystery of never knowing what you were going to get. 

There was always the chance that something magical was waiting out in the mailbox and seeing that you had mail.

That magical feeling is exactly why we as a society are so persuaded by direct mail. Whether it’s because of our psychological attachment to tangible mail or a cultural history that fostered an appreciation for receiving mail, people of all ages are stuck on the postal system.2 No matter where our appreciation for mail started, the reason for the long-standing direct mail love affair is rooted in the science of persuasion.2

Epsilon Targeting’s Consumer Channel Preference Study found that 60 percent of people actually demonstrate an emotional connection to their physical mail, compared to 75 percent of consumers from the study who reported that they got more emails than they had time or interest to read.3

With the increasingly digital world we live in, there’s a lot of value in the nostalgia of receiving mail. In fact, 59% of U.S. respondents agreed with the statement, “I enjoy getting postal mail from brands about new products.”3

As technology continues to innovate, direct mail marketing is evolving.

New technology can provide businesses with real-time marketing analytics to help improve targeting and cut marketing costs. Direct mail today can also include unique codes or barcodes to track individual responses to your mailings.4

While the methods of printing and distribution have transformed dramatically over time, the ingrained psychological value of direct mail has not.

Other advancements, such as variable data printing, use triggers based on consumer data to determine messaging and creative assets, ensuring relevance on an individualized level.
Combine variable data printing with expedited delivery services and you have a viable and timely marketing channel.³
Direct mail marketing continues to deliver a 𝗽𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 and tangible alternative for customers suffering from screen overload. It allows small businesses to reach customers in their community at home, where they spend their time, providing a physical touchpoint of their message. It serves as a conversation starter and as a lasting impression in physical form.

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Sources: 1. https://www.centralmailing.co.uk/blog/history-of-direct-mail/ 2. https://smallbizmarketingspecialist.com/the-psychology-of-why-direct-mail-works/ 3. https://emea.epsilon.com/blog-old/6-direct-mail-stats 4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/06/28/why-direct-mail-still-works-in-a-digital-world/?sh=db4976a436ac