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Think Direct Mail Marketing Is Dead? Not For Millennials

BY Chris Miller

The rise of digital channels has forced financial institutions to radically rethink their marketing strategies. While digital media have proven effective — no doubt — that doesn’t mean other traditional means of marketing no longer work. In fact, the opposite is true, particularly when it comes to direct mail.

Direct mail still resonates with every age group. This is among the findings from a study by InfoTrends and Prinova. And it doesn’t just work (or work less than it once did), the response rates for direct mail remain high for all demographics.

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Some might find the response rate for Millennials particularly surprising, since they are by far the most digitally-savvy generation in history. According to another study fielded by Experian, nearly every Millennial (ages18-35) owns a smartphone, and 43% say that they now access the internet more through their phone than a computer, compared with just 20% of adults ages 35 and older. However, despite their hyper-wired digital connectedness, Millennials as a group report that the last time they responded to direct mail campaign was within 2.4 months. That’s less than the average response time for all respondents. Similarly, Millennials open the direct mail they receive at the same high rate of 66% as recipients overall.

Even more significant, the InfoTrends research found that 63% of Millennials who responded to a direct mail piece within a three month period actually made a purchase.

A study by the USPS reached a similar conclusion about Millennials’ interest in receiving political direct mail. “As the much-coveted demographic of 18-24-year-olds has grown up with- and around computers, focusing exclusively on digital channels seems like the obvious strategy,” says Cliff Rucker, VP of Sales at USPS. “Actually, Millennials are far more likely than non-Millennials to read and engage with direct mail.”

The reasons consumers continue to open and engage with direct mail are many, but interest in the products and services offered tops the list. One quarter of those in the 25-34 year old age range say they opened direct mail because of the print and image quality, and 25% of Millennials consider reading direct mail a leisure activity. Personalization is another factor with a very strong influence on whether a recipient will open the direct mail they receive.

Moreover, an equal number of consumers say they prefer direct mail over email and vice versa. Response rates are similar between direct mail and email, too. Just as many consumers say they are likely to take action in response to direct mail vs. email, or are equally likely to take action in response to either direct mail or email communications. This result validates the value of cross-channel marketing (also called “integrated, multi-channel marketing”).

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