I’ve made this case before: a printed piece of direct mail has a greater perceived value, and drives much higher results than email.

Of course that’s something you’d expect me to say, because printed marketing technology is my business. But do millennials have the same perception?  What do they respond best to?

You guessed it — it’s a custom direct mail piece.

Why? Millennials live in a digital world. From online banking to instant messaging on Facebook, their whole lives are spent staring at a screen.

But that reliance doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where your entire messaging and advertising budget should go.

After all, how easy is it to delete an email? Think about how many emails are in your inbox right now? How many are unopened?

According to a recent study, across all industries the average results for UK SME email marketing campaigns were open rates of 22.87% and click-through rates of 3.26%.

So 77% of emails don’t even get opened!

Now let’s look at the response to direct mail pieces.

66% of millennials have responded to a direct mail piece

There’s a great article on TheFinancialbrand.com that breaks down how millennials (and other demographics) respond to direct mail.

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66% of millennials report responding to a direct mail piece. And according to the same study from InfoTrends, 63% of the millennials who responded to a direct mail piece within a three-month period actually made a purchase.

That’s pretty persuasive.

harry-potter-invitation-direct-mailJust recently my millennial daughter shared a Facebook post from a similarly aged online personality who was invited to a Pottermore (Harry Potter) event.  

He was so excited about the event and the invitation that he photographed it and shared it on Facebook for all to see. It was a pretty cool use of print to reach a demographic that one might think would be better served through email. But the act of receiving a printed invitation was so novel that it demanded action. Diners regularly share photos of a great meal on social media (yum, yum), and similarly, this invitation was too deliciously compelling not to post.  He was under the spell of the magic of targeted physical mail.

For political organizations, charities and e-commerce, direct mail is a great way to cut through the digital clutter and get your message in front of an audience that is becoming increasingly blind to the deluge of electronic communications.

But printed mail is most effective when you integrate the online and offline marketing channels, using the direct mail piece to drive traffic to your online transactional portal.  Canada Post Smartmail Marketing studies confirm this, and their research proves that a bit of digital marketing before a recipient gets their printed mail piece will yield the most success.

So before you hit send on that mass email blast, don’t forget about the wizardry and magic of direct mail!