As I kid, I remember going to my grandmother’s house and rifling through the catalogs she kept on her coffee table. Many of them sold clothes that could have been worn by an extra on “The Golden Girls.” Even though I was deep into my off-brand JNCO jeans phase, I still spent hours looking through the catalogs and magazines she accumulated. I still love looking through catalogs and magazines. And I’m not alone. The data shows that consumers enjoy receiving print in the mail and respond to it well. Whether it’s a magazine, catalog or a hand-written letter, the material that arrives in the mailbox is generally well-received.
Send It Over
Public sentiment for receiving print in the mail is very positive. People really like receiving mail. Young people especially respond positively to print. We’ve shared before how Gen Z especially likes print, due in part to the digital fatigue they’ve experienced for much of their lives.
Direct mail cuts through the digital clutter. Anyone with an email address likely receives more marketing emails than they know what to do with. Research by Edison Mail showed that Americans have just about had it with the digital contact. They found:
- 54% of Americans suffer from email overload.
- 59% said the majority of emails they receive aren’t useful.
- 66% said email messages and notifications made them feel stressed or fatigued in previous year.
Treatment for digital fatigue is simple, in theory: step away from the screen. That’s easier said than done, but when someone already receives print in the mail it’s an easy means of escape.
When it comes to magazines, readers still prefer print. It doesn’t look like that is going to change anytime soon. The number of eMagazine readers in the U.S. is expected to grow some, from 53.4 million in 2017 to a projected 54.2 million in 2027. However, those who prefer reading digital magazines was only at 18%.
“Magazine media brands are long-standing, recognizable and trusted by consumers and advertisers. They communicate with authority using professionally researched, expertly written, precisely edited, masterfully produced, curated content that is delivered in safe environments, whether on paper or on digital platforms.”
Linda Brooks, News Media Alliance
The trust associated with magazine brands parlays well into the trust associated with print. A whopping 82% of consumers say they trust print ads the most when making a purchase decision. Coming home to find an anticipated magazine in the mailbox, they’re inviting that brand into their home. Taking the time to read through it provides an opportunity for readers to let down their guard and relax.
Even advertisements – something clearly meant to sell to them – are considered more trustworthy than if that same ad was received digitally.
Catalogs & Other Direct Mail
Catalogs have come a long way from the stack my grandmother kept on her coffee table. Between personalization and the storytelling that goes into some catalogs, it’s a whole new experience. And consumers are responding to this new breed of catalogs.
“Catalogs may seem old school, but their increased capabilities and the brand-building potential suggest they’ll remain a staple in retailers’ toolboxes – and consumers’ mailboxes.”
Denise Lee Yohn, Harvard Business Review
Catalogs have evolved. They used to primarily be used for direct sales. Now, they’re used to send a message about your brand and keep your brand in the consumer’s mind. They’re a useful tool for driving recipients toward online sales. Catalogs also help drive in-person sales. In a USPS survey, 62% of Millennials said they had visited a store in the past month based on information received in the mail.
In fact, Globe Newswire reported that the average return on investment was $4.09 for every $1.27 spent on direct mail, and “study participants who sent letter-sized envelopes to prospect lists through direct mail reported the highest ROI of all media” according to the Association of National Advertisers Response Rate Report 2022.
Direct mail and digital marketing work well together, especially when it comes to receiving print in the mail. Spectrum Marketing reports a 28% increase in conversion rate when direct mail and digital ads are used together.
Consumer engagement via mobile and web has increased in recent years, but that doesn’t mean print is losing favor. Instead, it opens up opportunities for print and digital supplements to printed content, the way olive magazine uses QR codes to share bespoke video content. QR codes have been around for a long time, but improvements to mobile phones mean those QR codes are more accessible than ever. The reliance on QR codes due to COVID-19 helped make Americans more comfortable with them.
Combining print and digital provides the best of both worlds. The ease and interactivity of digital is undeniable. The inherent trust put into print is established. Consumers report much higher levels of recall for printed materials. Combining digital with direct mail increases the effectiveness of online campaigns by 400%. Readers say print ads are more interesting to them, easier to understand, and readers are 152% more likely to pay attention to print advertising compared to digital advertising. Clearly, print is an effective way to get consumers to notice and remember your brand. Digital provides easy access and more information than could fit on a printed piece. Together, it’s a recipe for success.
Receiving mail (that isn’t a bill) can be a joyful experience. When someone gets a piece of print in the mail, they’re going to give it time and consideration that doesn’t typically happen with digital content. They’ll feel more safe than if that same message came through in an email or on social media.
However, the convenience of digital can’t be denied. That means a magazine, catalog or other piece of print in the mail opens a path to your audience. They’re more likely to accept it, review it and really consider what they’ve been sent. You can make the most of that experience by combining it with digital. That way everyone wins.