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Engaging with millennials through direct mail

Research shows marketing campaigns with compelling direct mail components hit the spot with today’s largest consumer generation

November 2, 2018  By Canada Post

Winning silver for direct mail at the 2017 Canadian Printing Awards, the Copperleaf Mailer project by Hemlock Printers features the use of digital and UV offset. Three static cards were printed on the Heidelberg Speedmaster XL UV six-colour and one variable card was printed on the HP Indigo Digital using silver foil board to create a mirror effect.

Millennials are being hailed by marketers as the largest consumer generation in history. There are roughly 9.8 million of them in Canada, and they make 33 percent of our online purchases, according to 2017 Canada Post research.

In 2015 they became the biggest generation in the Canadian workforce, accounting for roughly 35 percent, and by 2025, they will make up 75 percent of the global workforce and will be the most vital demographic for retailers to attract. So the big question on most marketers’ minds is, how do I attract them?

Millennials are the first generation to grow up immersed in digital technology, so most marketers believe email and digital advertising is the best way to break through to them. Digital channels are important when it comes to reaching out to them, but research suggests a digital-only approach may not be the most effective way to connect.


Direct mail should be in your millennial marketing strategy
Direct mail might not be something you are considering adding to your millennial marketing strategy, but it should be. Here are a few compelling reasons why you should incorporate it into your next campaign.

Millennials’ inboxes are full
Millennials are bombarded with advertising from every angle online, and they’re not amused. In fact, they’ve become highly efficient at weeding out unwanted marketing. According to eMarketer, a whopping 46 percent of them use ad blockers on their desktop, 17 percent use them on their mobile device, and 14 percent use them on both their desktop and mobile device.

Their mailbox isn’t
Sending direct mail creates an opportunity for a brand or business to be welcomed into the homes of millennials. Despite what you might think, they value it. In fact, most of them pay attention to it – almost all of them think it’s reliable, over half of them have made purchases based on direct mail offers – and the majority of them say they like receiving it, according to an article by the U.S. Postal Service.

Millennials pay attention to direct mail
Millennials are more responsive to direct mail than older generations. The U.S. Postal Service article notes millennials are more likely to scan it, less likely to discard a piece without reading it, and tend to organize and sort what they get. They also take more time to read the mail, and enjoy showing what they receive to others.

Digital mail and direct mail work better together
Canada Post conducted Neuromarketing research that revealed direct mail and digital are stronger together. When paired with digital advertising in integrated campaigns, direct mail optimized consumer action, emotional engagement and brand recall. People paid 39 percent more attention to integrated direct mail and digital campaigns than to single-media digital campaigns, and consumers had 40 percent higher brand recall when direct mail followed email. Better brand recall improves the odds that a customer will trust a particular company, associate the brand with a product, and ultimately buy from them.

By reaching out to millennials both digitally and through physical mail, marketers can send a stronger message. This two-pronged approach can increase brand recognition and recall, and garner more attention for a campaign than sending an email alone.

Sending direct mail to reinforce an email campaign targeted to millennials is a great way to ensure that your email actually gets opened. The recipient will be more likely to recognize your brand, and therefore more inclined to open and read what you send.

Sobeys Best Clients 2016, printed by Groupe PDI, won gold for direct mail at the 2017 Canadian Printing Awards for its focused IGA holiday promotion.

Five tips for better direct mail marketing
If you’re ready to explore direct mail marketing for millennials, here are a few tips to keep in mind when creating and sending your campaign.

Tip #1: Send something entertaining
Be real and engaging with your messaging and presentation. The more authentically you present your brand, products and/or services, the more they will resonate with millennials who crave authenticity. Millennials also respond well to experiential marketing and love to be entertained — that’s why many of them go to big events, conventions and festivals. Make your campaign fun and interactive to drive better results. Be as creative as possible and think beyond the letter.

Tip #2: Send something personal
Millennials respond well to personalized marketing materials. If you target them as individuals, you can show each customer that they are more than just another name on your list. A personalized direct mail piece can show your customers that you ‘get’ them, you know what they want, and you’ve got it ready and waiting. To get personal with your marketing, you need to keep thorough data on your customers. Good data will help you tailor your communications to each customer, and enable you to share enticing special offers with them based on their shopping preferences, purchase history, and search history.

Tip #3: Send something tactile
An extension of tip #1, explore the tactile nature of direct mail to engage and entertain millennials. They respond well to highly visual and tactile communications, so send something that might catch their eye and engage their senses. Thanks to advancements in print technology, marketers can send pieces enhanced with exciting things like scented ink and textured paper.

Tip #4: Send something worth saving

A huge advantage of direct mail is the fact that people like to hold onto it. According to The Private Life of Mail, a whitepaper from UK Royal Mail, advertising mail is kept in U.K. households for an average of 17 days. Because it tends to linger in the home, a piece of mail can have a pretty significant impact on a recipient over the course of days and weeks. Increase the odds of your mailer sticking around by sending something useful or informative. A product catalogue is a great example of a direct mail piece that has a good chance of lingering in a millennial’s home. According to a Quad/Graphics whitepaper, Millennials: An Emerging Consumer Powerhouse, more than 50 percent of millennials enjoy and look forward to receiving retail catalogues; 49 percent wish certain companies had a catalogue and 40 percent buy more from companies when they receive a catalogue.

Tip #5: Send your campaigns to millennial influencers

Millennials are big fans of peer-to-peer marketing. They greatly value reviews and referrals, especially when purchasing expensive items. Instead of mailing ads to a large volume of recipients, consider trying your hand at an influencer marketing campaign. Reach out to millennials who have a significant following who might like your products. Mail them a special selection of your products for a review or giveaway. Encourage them to create content around your products, or to offer their followers a special discount code or rate. You can also tap into peer-to-peer marketing by mailing a refer-a-friend offer to your customers or prospects. A campaign like that will help you attract new leads for your business, and keep your customers happy with a discount.

Millennials may be the most important consumer group to attract to your business. Use these tips and insights to break through to them with your marketing campaigns.

This article was originally published on the Canada Post blog and recently republished in the October 2018 issue of PrintAction, now available online.

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