Stats, Facts & Research

Why Direct Mail Is More Memorable

Why Direct Mail Is More MemorableWhen marketing to your target audience, what advertising medium do you use? Websites? Social media? Magazine and newspaper ads? Mobile apps? Direct mail?

To maximize exposure, you probably use a combination of the above. While it’s clear digital advertising is powerful, do physical marketing pieces such as direct mail and print ads have an edge over their electronic counterparts?

To find out, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General partnered with the Center for Neural Decision Making at Temple University’s Fox School of Business to study the power of print and digital advertisements. The research found participants spent more time with physical advertisements, showed more desire for a product seen in print and were more stimulated by physical ads than by their digital counterparts.

Neuromarketing Basics

Neuromarketing combines the insights of multiple disciplines, including neuroscience and psychology, to better understand marketing, consumer behavior and advertising phenomena. The researchers took what is known about neuromarketing and used it to examine how consumers process and engage with physical and digital advertisements throughout the three stages of the buying process: Exposure to information, retrieval of information and action. (To read more about the study and the methodology, click here.)

The Results

Direct Mail vs Digital Comparison ChartThe study found that physical advertisements had more influence than digital ads in a number of ways. Participants spent more time with physical ads, and they also remembered them more quickly and confidently. Physical ads also elicited a stronger emotional response and had a longer-lasting impact than digital ads.

When researchers looked at brain activity, they also discovered that participants showed a greater subconscious valuation and desire for the products or services advertised in a physical format. This means physical ads are particularly effective in two stages of the consumer journey: Exposure to information and retrieval of information.

But there was one area where physical ads fell short of digital: Focused attention. While participants did show more attention to digital ads, they gained the same amount of information from both types of advertisements.

Lessons For Marketers

What does all of this mean for marketers? A few things. Digital media is both cost-effective and the fastest way to communicate an idea to customers. So digital ads are best used when looking to gain attention and quickly deliver messages.

However, print materials—such as direct mail, billboards and magazine ads—have a more pronounced emotional effect on consumers. For marketers who want advertising with long-lasting impact and easy recollection, a physical ad simply has more psychological influence.

Knowing what we do about the effectiveness of promotional products, we can make the assertion that swag added to traditional direct mail to make it lumpy would make it even more effective at getting attention, getting opened, getting noticed and getting remembered. These Sweet Treats Direct Mailers  are perfect on their own. Or choose items such as Jar Openers, Dress-Up Magnets, Cooling Towels or Bottle Sweaters that all a little bulk to otherwise flat mailings.

Both mediums have their advantages. The most effective campaigns will use both in combination to create the most potent marketing mix.


Want to create direct mail that gets opened and makes a statement? We can help. Check out the 10 Steps To Your Best Direct Mail Campaign Ever. Then book an appointment by clicking here or call us now at 248-538-4700. Mention the blog, and we’ll send you some SMART Swag to get the conversation started!