How is direct mail evolving in today’s world of electronic media? A Nielsen and RAPP Germany study decided to find out. Their study, “Future of the Mailing,” examines the effect of direct mailings and email. It found that certain mailing formats have higher open and read rates than others.
To find out what really works, the team sent five different mailing variations from a fictitious travel agency (Top Travel Tours) addressed to different test subject groups. All together, mailings were sent to 1,800 subjects in Germany and the United States. Different types of mailings were tested, including a mailing in a standard envelope, a mailing in a printed envelope, a self-mailer, a wrapper, and an email.
Which format had the biggest influence on recipients’ purchase decisions? Hard copy mailings in printed envelopes. This format generated the highest open and read rate with 84.5%, followed by email with 80.0%. The printed envelope was also considered by both German and U.S. customers to be of “highest value.”
The mailer in the printed envelope had other benefits, as well. It had the strongest influence on the purchase decision. It was also twice as likely to motivate a customer to recommend an offer to a friend or acquaintance than email. Email, however, performed strongest in activating recipients to search for further information on specific offers.
In a nutshell, the study found three success factors that we can all learn from:
#1: Use real envelopes.
Direct mail pieces in real envelopes generate the highest open and read rates compared to self-mailers, wrappers, and emails. They are also considered to be of the highest value.
#2: Personalize it!
Notes the report: “Today, mailings have to arouse curiosity by employing personalization that is immediately apparent—on the envelope of a postal mailing and in the subject line of an email.”
#3: Use the best of print and e-media
Ultimately, which is “better,” print or email, depends on your objectives. Email is a powerful tool for spreading the message about concrete product offers, while mailings in printed envelopes are more likely to motivate recipients to pass on content and make recommendations to others.
So personalize the message, use real envelopes, and personalize the outside of envelopes when possible. Always, always understand the value of each medium so you can take advantage of the best of both.