Waiting for your letter... D. Nepriakhina@Pixabay
I have a strong affinity for the United Kingdom. My mother grew up in the far north of Scotland. On two occasions in my youth, we traveled to visit relatives who lived in the Highlands in Castletown (by Thurso) near John o’ Groats. Let’s just say, it was remote. While I was there, I could be seen nodding and smiling not knowing what in the world anyone was saying. Were they speaking English? Gaelic? Martian? Whatever it was, I’m sure it was all very complimentary.
So, you can imagine that when I found an interesting study from the U.K. – replete with extra “u”s (favourite, humour, neighbour) – I was thrilled. Why Mail Cuts Through: Measuring Mail’s Effectiveness with Neuroscience is a fascinating read. And (hallelujah), I understood every word of it.
Here’s the scoop: direct mail (i.e. snail mail) is not dead.
In fact, in terms of memorability,
Results show that mail activates areas of the brain responsible for long-term memory encoding 49% more than email and 35% more than social media advertising.
In addition, in terms of engagement, mail is 33% more engaging than email and 35% more engaging than social media advertising. According to the researchers,
If something feels personally relevant, our brains are more likely to put it into memory. So engagement, as measured in our neuroscience study, is important because it drives memory encoding.
What’s this mean for you?
1. Keep sending your snail mail newsletter. The tactile sensation of holding a piece of mail and reading it helps people to engage better than email and social media. As one research participant said, “When you’re reading a letter, it’s the only thing you do.” Want some tips? Read “Make Your Newsletter Great.”
2. Send more personal mail. Handwrite a note, handwrite the envelope, put a pretty stamp on it. I guarantee it’ll get read.
3. Send additional letters. Afraid that it’ll be deemed “junk mail”? Not if it’s from your church or organization. Trust me – people like getting mail from groups where they have a relationship. You’re not sending a bill; you’re writing about some good news or about a need that you have. People want to know.
4. Don’t forget your Millennials or Gen Zs. Surprisingly, the research shows that, regardless of their age, direct mail is remembered more and has more engagement with younger generations than email or social media.
Let me say it again, direct mail (i.e., snail mail) is not dead. Yes, it may cost you in postage, envelopes, and time – but the payoff in terms of memorability and engagement? Well, it’s priceless.
Sit down today and write a couple of notes to some good people in your church or organization. Feel great about sending out your newsletter in the old-fashioned U.S. mail. Start thinking about your Christmas letter. And while you’re at it…here’s a handy phrase to keep at the ready, “Chan eil Gàidhlig mhath agam” (“I can’t speak Gaelic well”). You just never know when you’ll be called upon to use it.