You know how marketing has moved from print to digital advertising? We might want to reconsider that.

The amount of information we have at our fingertips is unimaginable. It’s overwhelming, even. We view pretty much everything through an electronic screen nowadays: news, entertainment, social media…not even books could resist joining the digital world.

Digital has taken over.

Display media is everywhere too. But people have developed the ability to ignore any digital advert not targeted to their specific interests. It’s one of the reasons why ABM is making such a big comeback in B2B marketing right now.

In contrast, physical media gives people breathing space, something that’s increasingly hard to come by in the information age, what with the internet attempting to distract us at every turn.

Should B2B marketers go back to direct mail to drive sales?

In their research report, “A bias for action: The neuroscience behind the response-driving power of direct mail“, Canada Post found that, compared to digital media, direct mail is:

  • more likely to drive behaviour
  • visually processed quicker
  • far more persuasive
  • easier to understand and more memorable.

They found that direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media, and 75% of those exposed to direct mail were able to recall a brand name compared to 44% exposed to a digital ad.

That’s not the only study to uncover the power of physical media. Bangor University’s findings suggest that ‘physical material is more “real” to the brain. It has a meaning, and a place. It is better connected to memory because it engages with its spatial memory networks’.

The fact that somebody can hold a piece of direct mail in their hands, experience it with all their senses (who doesn’t love the smell of freshly printed paper?), means it engages the parts of the brain that deal with emotional processing, which creates more powerful memories and brand associations.

Of course, a successful direct mail campaign relies on an up-to-date database – but then, so does digital advertising. You should already have the information on your target audiences that you need.

So long, digital?

Look, I’m not saying we should throw away all the progress we’ve made over the last decade. New technology is brilliant. I’ll never get tired of learning of the latest developments and seeing where it’s taking us.  I just think that we shouldn’t relegate direct mail to the past when we can bring it with us into the future.

Admittedly, the challenge of effectively measuring a DM campaign is something yet to be solved, and it’s naturally more expensive, but the potential for high response rates surely makes up for this?

With the application of modern marketing practices, your direct mail campaigns could be even more effective. Predictive analytics, for example, could help you gain insights from multiple data sets to help you pick the right time and right message to send to individual recipients.

And today’s customer experience is an omni-channel one: shouldn’t direct mail be one of those channels?

When even digital giant Amazon is experimenting with brick and mortar stores, albeit still with a technological slant, it’s definitely time to reconsider the role of the physical in your marketing efforts.

I’ve been working on successful DM campaigns for some of the world’s biggest technology brands for 30 years, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you want any advice on its place in modern marketing.

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