Neuroscientists Confirm Direct Mail is Alive and Kicking

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February 6, 2013

Direct Mail is alive and kicking even if your original cell phone is not.

Despite the attraction toward digital marketing, direct mail is far from extinct. According to a study conducted by Millward Brown, Using Neuroscience to Understand the Role of Direct Mail, physical marketing materials vs. virtual marketing materials engage customers far better and trigger more emotional responses deepening brand engagement.

A Deeper Footprint

Regular Forbes contributor, Steve Olenski educates marketers that direct mail is not dead, but more relevant than ever in his article, In the Land of Digital, Let’s Not Forget the Physical and Direct Mail: Alive and Kicking.

Olenski also sites Millward Brown’s study of direct mail as it excels in the areas of neuroscientific engagement of customers as you can see in the video below.

Brown’s study states that physical media (direct mail) leaves a deeper footprint on the brain. In other words, content or marketing materials that consumers can touch and resonate with will engage more emotions than digital marketing messages.

  • Greater emotional processing is facilitated by consumers interacting with physical materials as opposed to virtual.
  • The “real” experience means the message becomes a better part of the recipient’s memory.
  • Brain scans showed print vs. digital material is internalized more deeply, meaning the materials had more of a personal effect that should aid in motivation or responding to a good call to action.[1]

Source: Millward Brown Neuroscience Marketing Study: Understanding Direct Mail with Neuroscience

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Consumers that are affected by physical media are not just the older demographics such as busters and boomers, which is contrary to some marketers’ assumptions. According to Lisa Formica, president of FMI, a direct mail marketing and advertising firm, direct mail is not specific to a certain age group. Younger consumers (the 18- to 32-year old group) prefer to communicate with business and receive their offers via postal mail. And that preference doesn’t take into account the power and increased response rate when you send a dimensional mailing (3D or “lumpy mail”).

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Learn how to execute a winning strategy with Direct Mail

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Of course there is still an art and science to creating powerful direct mail and poorly executed direct mail still risks being tossed (read Why Your Direct Mail Is Really Being Thrown Away.)

According to The Kern Organization, killer direct marketers, direct mail designers, and direct mail copywriters are becoming harder to find and it may be a matter of lack of training. In its Vlog post, Is There Still a Place for Direct Mail in This Digital Age?, Russell Kern says marketers lack the experience and confidence needed to design and test a direct mail strategy.

Isn’t it funny how keeping your skills up is different among the generations? While senior marketers are constantly teaching themselves mobile and digital media,  junior marketers must remember to keep their direct mail skills polished by attending Direct Marketing conferences, reading Deliver magazine and perhaps getting a senior direct mail mentor or learning from direct mail legends, including David Ogilvy, Bob Stone and Lester Wunderman.

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