rants

Candy is Dandy, But a Letter is Better

May 7, 2013

For those of you who don’t receive your monthly issue of Deliver Magazine, there is a great, little section featured toward the front of the magazine called “By the Numbers.” In bite-sized pieces, they give you some recent industry statistics to keep you in the know.

In an issue of Deliver I came across an interesting statistic; taken from the DMA Statistical Fact Book 2012, Deliver shares with us the age range of consumers most likely to respond to mail piece is 22 to 24. Surprised? With the popularity of digital channels and social media coming out of our ears—or so it would seem—you may have been under the impression that this particular age group would shy away from “old-fashioned paper methods.” I immediately began asking questions to find ways to justify the statistic; For example, how much mail does the average 20-something receive? Perhaps they don’t receive a large volume of mail and therefore take a little more time to pick through and find relevance in the pieces they receive. Maybe a younger demographic finds a non-digital method refreshing and it becomes more likely to catch their eye. Hmm… Ultimately, I thought I’d seek out more support for this statistic.

Lisa Formica, President of FMI, a direct mail marketing and advertising firm, cites national survey research from ICOM, saying “Direct mail surprisingly transcends the age demographic, with younger consumers (the 18-to 34-year old demographic) preferring to learn about marketing offers via postal mail rather than online sources (see article)...”

In 2010, a campaign was developed to encourage Illinois’ teenagers to register as organ donors. The creators of the campaign chose to test three different, non-digital methods amongst their audience. A third received an image-packed, full-color brochure; another third a standard, concisely worded letter; and the remaining third received both the letter and brochure in single letter package. Keeping in mind the DMA (at the time) cited the average response rate for direct mail at 1.38%, the response rates were as follows: brochure only returned a rate of 3.30%; the letter only came in at 6.24% and the package containing both registered a 6.3% return rate.

The brochure seems to add little, especially in terms of the cost to produce. The letter appeared to pull the weight of the campaign, ultimately producing a fantastic response rate. Quick, the author of the study, surmises that it “may be a matter of simply cutting through the multimedia clutter.”

To go one further, the recipients of the various mail types were invited to register via written form or the “express route,” online. Of those who chose to register, almost 75% chose to complete and mail the written form, rather than go online. Learn more about the organ donor campaign here.

To avoid beating you over the noggin with the same point, I encourage you—whether you market to teenagers or other various demographics—to do some research and consult your Analytics team before choosing a particular channel or combination of channels. The best method may not always be intuitive. It’s in your ROI’s best interest to consult recent trends and industry stats.

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