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Unveiling the Surprising Truth: Not-So-Digital Digital Generation

Hannah Cupples, an intern for Compu-Mail in 2013, contributed a blog post for us around her experience at the time.

I can say I’m definitely part of [the] statistics. I have Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and I sleep with my phone plugged in right by my bedside. So knowing this, wouldn’t marketers want to take advantage of social media, email, and other digital or online sources to reach us Millennials?

While marketers certainly could, statistics have shown that direct mail is the more effective option:

The numbers show it, Millennials love direct mail.

However, it’s one thing to see the numbers and it’s another to hear it from an actual Millennial. That’s why we had asked Hannah to share her personal experience with direct mail. At the time, she was going into her senior year of high school which meant she was approaching a pretty significant part of her life: applying to college.

Email Marketing to Millennials

I cannot even express how many emails, brochures, packages, booklets, and letters I have received trying to get me to look at the respective school. I know I’m not the only one, millions of students nationwide have been or are in my shoes. I am overwhelmed by the amount of colleges that have been trying to reach me, and to be honest, it gets kind of annoying sometimes, especially the emails. The truth is that I am more likely to look at a school if they send me something in the mail. Unless it is a school I was already highly interested in, I usually move the emails to the trash bin without even opening them.  The mail is a different story though. I like getting letters and pamphlets filled with pictures of the campus and explaining what the school has to offer. Even if I’m not interested in the school, I usually take time to open them and read what they have to say before I tear them up and throw them in the trash. There you have it, a personal example of how direct mail was more effective in reaching a Millennial as opposed to email.

But wait, there’s more!

That’s just college though, Hannah remarked that she did the same thing when it came to receiving offers from her favorite stores.

If I get a coupon in the mail, I’ll use it. If it comes in an email, I probably wouldn’t even know it existed because I already deleted it. I’m just one in millions though: 73% of Millennials are like me and use direct mail coupons when making purchases.Unfortunately, this generation is often stereotyped as self-centered and always seeking out attention and approval. I personally am not a fan of this stereotype as there are plenty of people out there who are far from it, but at the same time, I can see the reasoning behind it. I feel it can be seen in our social media obsession. It’s undeniable that we’re kind of screaming for attention when we are constantly posting pictures of ourselves and posting about our personal lives multiple times a day. Looking at this, I can completely see how older generations see us as self-centered. Yet, when I stopped and thought about it, I can see how direct mail’s success among Millennials is partially a result of our self-obsession. It’s as if mail channels our conceit. So in a sense, our self-obsession works to the advantage of direct mail marketers. Millennials are so consumed in the digital world that getting something in the mail stands out. While we’re probably one in thousands receiving the exact same thing, it’s so uncommon to get a tangible piece of mail that it kind of makes us feel special and like the sender is personally trying to reach us.

Referring back to her college example, when Hannah saw that mail item sitting on her counter with her name on it and customized to what she was interested it, it made her feel like the college really wanted to reach out to her. For some reason with the emails, even though it had her name in it, she still didn’t feel as special reading it.

It was just one of twenty more emails I had to sift through. Overall, direct mail, at least to me, somehow channels our supposed self-centeredness and reaches us more effectively simply because it’s not as common in our digitally-consumed world.I know I can’t speak for all of the 80 million of my generation, but that’s where the statistics come in. Regardless, I can completely attest to those numbers that define us. Direct mail is so much more effective at getting a message across to a Millennial than other digital mediums. We live in such a digitalized society where we see thousands of social media posts and receive dozens of emails a day. It’s commonplace to a Millennial, but seeing that piece of mail sitting in the mailbox, that’s different. Its unique, it’s physically there, and it’s “not the norm” so to speak. Direct mail stands out in the digital world, and it stands out in a good way. When thinking about how to reach the generation of social media and technology, don’t rule out direct mail. It could very well be the key to reaching us Millennials.