By |Published On: October 5, 2016|

Assumptions in marketing are inherently dangerous. Direct mail doesn’t work for millennials is one of them…and here’s why:

We often take a generally true statement (i.e. Millennials are more communicative through social media today than through direct mail or home telephone) and we extrapolate that out to all industries, including cutting edge industries continuously looking for an edge – advertising and marketing.

There are three things that have to happen for millennials to be affected by direct mail – they have to have enough of an interest in it to engage with it, they have to be willing to open it, and they have to read it.

Many marketers have been operating on the incorrect assumption that millennials do none of the three. Recent information from InfoTrends, however have shown this to be patently false.

Digital media have proven effective in reading millennials.

That is absolutely true and its knowledge upon which companies have based some or all of their entire marketing strategies. When one strategy works, however, it does not mean the others become invalid.

This is the case currently being made in defense of direct mail.

That direct mail works with millennials is one concept validated by the new study. Yet, it may not be the most surprising.


Direct mail was shown to work on a high level across all demographics. Millennials reported having responded to a mail campaign within a scant 2.4 months from being questioned. That’s a shorter time period for response than the average response time for all respondents.

Millennials are on par with other demographic groups in opening their mail at a very high 66% level. They are interested. They are opening.

Are they reading and then acting upon the information being presented? InfoTrends concluded that 63% of Millennials who engaged with direct mail within three months acted on the information presented by purchasing a product or service.

When Millennials decide to engage, they are very likely to act upon information rather than sitting on it.

The United States Postal Service study agreed that it would seem likely that the same Millennial who grows up as a hyperactive digital consumer would not be responsive to a direct mail marketing strategy.

They, however, also found that to be untrue. In fact, the USPS argued that Millennials were more likely to be interested in, open, read, and respond to direct mail than non-Millennials.

The key to a successful direct mail campaign appears to be product need and placement.

Millennials appear, according to the study, to be very open to direct mail when it offers a product or service that they find valuable. Millennials are looking for homes for the first time, they are buying insurance across all of life’s many facets for the first time, and they are heavily banking for the first time.

They look on direct mail as an education in real estate, insurance, and banking, not just an advertisement.

When data-driven personalization of products and services are in proximity to Millennials, they do tend to consume information at a surprisingly high rate, leading to increased sales.

An equal number of respondents say they preferred direct mail to email, a concept which legitimized cross-channel marketing for Millennials as a demo group.

One of the problems with attempting to stay on the cutting or bleeding edge is that you often find yourself bleeding opportunity in the haste to act first.

Studying the curve is often more beneficial than being ahead of it. Take nothing for granted, rely on your professionals, and study the latest research. The results may surprise you and success, as opposed to a belief in conventional wisdom, may be your reward.


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