Young adults are tied to their digital devices and impossible to reach any other way, right? No! It’s counter-intuitive, but recent research has indicated that youth are among the most responsive to direct mail marketing campaigns!
A 2013 look at response rates from the USPS in 1987, 2011, and 2012 led researchers to this highly surprising discovery. In 2012, people 18-21 would actually read direct mail immediately 65% of the time, and the 21-24 crowd read immediately 45% of the time. College-age recipients also have among the lowest “set aside” response rates in the study.
On top of that, another study in 2013 indicated that over half of youth between 15-24 have purchased a product based on a direct mail promotion. And a whopping 92% of young shoppers say they prefer/trust printed materials over digital when making purchasing decisions.
These are surprising and eye-opening stats. So, clearly print-based direct marketing to millennials can be a successful strategy. What goes into it?
Why Millennials Prefer Snail Mail Direct Mail Marketing
1 – Digital Oversaturation
Apparently, youth interact with their mobile devices more than forty times per day, and roughly a third of them will interact with at least four devices per day! Digital marketing is omnipresent and, in a sense, somewhat repressive. It’s virtually impossible to be online for more than a couple minutes without someone trying to sell you something.
Direct mail on the other hand, is (strange as this might sound to us) a novelty to the youth. It “only” comes once a day, making it a unique occurrence. Because they aren’t as exposed to it as email, they haven’t grown so cynical and hardened to its effects.
2 – Personalization
Pretty much across the board, in every age group, direct mail is seen not just as more personalized, but more personal. Even in an era of machines stuffing envelopes and stamping pre-paid postage on them, direct mail retains the aura of human-to-human contact.
When a young adult -hardened by a lifetime of managing spam emails- receives a piece of mail and actually holds it and manipulates it, the piece feels much more real and personal. This instantly adds appeal and believability to direct marketing mailers.
3 – “The Feels”
Another aspect of direct mail that’s often overlooked is that it’s inherently tactile. It engages the sense of touch in a way that simply is not replicated at all by electronic means. For that matter, physical mail can theoretically even incorporate scents, another sense that’s utterly neglected by electronics.
This is an area that probably has not had enough research. However, thinking it through… If we grab people’s emotions by way of their senses, it would make a lot of sense if the higher young adult response rates are due in part to direct mail engaging senses that most other marketing materials simply don’t touch at all.
Experiment with non-visual stimuli in your youth market mailings. We’d love to hear about the results!
4 – Digital Crossover
Finally, don’t think any of this means that the Millennials are in danger of turning Luddite any time soon. Response rates on direct mail go up more than 150% percent when there’s a social media link embedded, such as in a QR code.
So you can get a best-of-both-worlds effect here. First you engage youth with the mailer, and then get them on their device to receive more marketing materials.
Are You Mailing To Millennials?
If not, it’s probably time to start. The statistics say, very clearly, that direct marketing by mail works on young adults!