Home Professionalisms Physical Mail Has Huge Advantages In The Digital Age

Physical Mail Has Huge Advantages In The Digital Age


by Vijay Yadav, Manager of Engineering at Smarty

In 2001, after the Anthrax attacks that terrorized the US, NBC News ran a piece entitled, “The End of Snail Mail?” In 2016, NewsWeek tried again, with an article that asked, “Is There Anyone Left Still Using Snail Mail?” Since the popularization of email in the 1990s, many thought-leaders and digital organizations have predicted the end of the US Postal Service. Yet traditional mailing has persisted.

It is true that people send fewer letters than they used to. However, personal correspondence is not the only reason to send mail. Government officials, banks looking to verify an address, voters hoping to register in the proper district, lawyers sending documentation  and marketers vying for the attention of consumers all still use mail as a reliable delivery method. 

Although email campaigns can be highly effective in the right circumstances, there are plenty of reasons to send physical mail to reach your audience. Here are three to ponder:

1. Mail stands out.

Approximately 333.2 billion emails are sent every day, and 85% of them are spam. It’s no wonder, then, that most of these emails go unopened. According to MailChimp, the average open rate for emails hovers around 20%, which means that four fifths of emails aren’t even being seen by their intended recipients. 

Physical mail, on the other hand, is less common and nearly always seen by consumers. Everyone handles and sorts their mail before throwing away whatever they aren’t interested in, which gives marketers the opening they need to make an impression.

As a matter of fact, a study indicates that over 91% of promo mail is opened and read.

2. Paper hangs around.

An interesting postcard can remain on a refrigerator or desk for days or even weeks. This means that not only is the recipient reading your brand name multiple times per day, but others in the household or office are, too. 

Not only that, but mail can be delivered to an address whether or not the previous owner is still there. Emails delivered to an outdated inbox are simply bounced back into the digital ether, while physical copies are generally left in the care of the new owner, either of a home or a cubicle. This way, you are still reaching someone who may be interested in what you have to offer.

3. Physical senses play a role in decision making.

You can send nearly anything through the mail. Scented envelopes, shiny packaging, unusually shaped containers, and other inventive direct-mail items have a way of capturing attention and, therefore, being opened. Since the way something feels to the touch impacts human perception of it, mail engages people in a way that email simply cannot replicate.

So, if mail is superior to electronic communication in some situations, what is the best way to get started? Smaller businesses, particularly those started by digital natives, may feel out of the loop when it comes to finding customers, collaborators and investors the old fashioned way. 

Luckily, there are a variety of tech-friendly tools to help manage the process, from identifying the who all the way to tracking the ROI of the campaign.

The first step is to find and purchase the right master address list. Data is one of the most valuable assets a business has, so ensure you are buying a list that is tailored to your needs, both geographically and demographically. It is also important to verify that all of the addresses are standardized and checked for accuracy, so that half of your mailers don’t end up being returned to you. 

Secondly, think about what you want to send. Remember, senses matter, so color choice, paper weight, size, etc. are vital to successfully influencing the recipient. In general, it pays off in the end to have a professional design and create a mailer that is stunning and still fits within your budget. Most modern designers will also have ideas for coding and tracking mail, so you know which leads can be attributed to physical vs. email. 

Third, print and send. This is pretty straightforward, but don’t think you have to sit in your office for days, hand-addressing and licking envelopes––although that would be a very personal touch! Many third party companies offer mailing services. 

Finally, collect data from the campaign. Not only sales leads count here. You’ll want to know how many people visited your web site after seeing the mailer, how many addresses were undeliverable, who used a coupon code, who left a full electronic cart behind, and which messages are resonating with clients. It’s important to think about what data will be useful to you now and in the future, so you can set up your campaign expressly to gather that information. 

Snail mail is far from dead. While email is an undoubtedly convenient and rapid way to communicate, it isn’t always the smartest way to reach people. With a high-quality master address list, a well-designed mailer and smart data collection, your next marketing campaign can go old-school – and achieve amazing results.


vijay yadav

Vijay Yadav, Manager of Engineering at Smarty, has over two decades of experience in software engineering, and people management. He has experience with SQL, Kubernetes, data warehousing, constructing reporting systems, and he has a knack for troubleshooting data storage and backup issues.


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