More than 7 in 10 consumers read direct mail either immediately or the same day they receive it, and 62% report having taken some action after reading a direct mail piece, according to survey results [download page] from Lob.

Here are 3 highlights from the report.

1. Direct Mail Favored When Consumers Don’t Know Brands

The more than 2,000 US adults surveyed were given 4 channel choices (email, direct mail, text messages, and social media messages) and asked their preferred communication from brands in different situations. For brands that respondents already have a relationship with, email was easily the preferred communication method, as chosen by 52% share of respondents. Direct mail and text messages trailed distantly, but closely together (20% and 19%, respectively).

For brands that respondents are aware of but do not have a relationship with, there was virtual parity between email (42%) and direct mail (39%) as the preferred communication method. But for brands that respondents do not know, direct mail takes the lead (44%) ahead of email (35%), with social media messages (13%) and text messages (8%) trailing.

This suggests, per the authors, that direct mail can be “an effective channel for customer acquisition.” Indeed, consumers are receptive to direct mail, which can have lower-funnel impacts too: consumers rate it almost as highly as email for driving purchases.

2. Offers Drive Activity

Promotions do the trick on social media, and they play the same role with direct mail, per Lob’s report. The study finds that promotions and offers are the most important factors leading consumers to open or read a direct mail piece. Specifically, 73% are likely to open or read a direct mail piece from a brand when it contains multiple offers or promotions, and 72% are likely to if it contains a single offer or promotion. Furthermore, offers and promotions are the leading reason for consumers to take action on a direct mail piece: among those who said they have taken action on direct mail, 64% said that it was because an offer or promotion caught their eye.

Interestingly, older adults are the most likely to be motivated to action by an offer or promotion. Although offers are the main driver for younger respondents also, elements such as the design and wording of the piece as well as its personalization are more important to younger than older respondents.

3. Catalogs & Magazines Are Preferred

When asked about direct mail formats they prefer to receive from brands they know, respondents placed catalogs and magazines (53%) at the top of the list, ahead of brochures (pamphlet/booklet; 43%), letters and envelopes (39%) and postcards (33%). The study authors note that younger respondents (18-34) are considerably more likely than their older counterparts to prefer to receive letters and envelopes, while those ages 35-54 are the most likely to prefer to receive postcards.

Previous research has revealed that letter-sized envelopes sent from a prospect list have a higher ROI than those of oversized envelopes (92.2%), dimensional (92.3%) and postcards (85%) sent from a prospect list.

For more about direct mail, download the Lob study here.

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