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Let’s Get Physical… with Direct Mail

Monday, 17 March 2014 | By Louis Gordon


By Louis Gordon, Marcom Manager, Landa Digital Printing

We’ve all seen the obituaries – “Direct Mail is Dead.” “RIP: Direct Mail.” You might conclude that email, mobile marketing, online advertising and all their digital brethren have pounded printed direct mail marketing into submission. And if that weren’t bad enough, rising postal rates are the final nail in the coffin.

Borrowing from Mark Twain’s classic quote, “The report of direct mail’s death is an exaggeration.”1

Don’t get me wrong. Like almost everyone in the world, I’m a dedicated digital devotee.

Yet, despite the global enchantment with all things digital, direct mail just refuses to die. In fact, the evidence shows that it actually seems to play an increasingly vital role for marketers.

Direct Mail 

A Real Pleasure

Remember when people used to complain of being inundated with “junk mail?” Have you heard that recently? Neither have I. In fact, I’ve stumbled on a number of recent articles showing that people actually like receiving direct mail.

For example, the United States Postal Service found that 56% of ”Digital Natives” – the Millennials and Generation Z folks who are presumed to be purely paperless – feel that receiving mail is “a real pleasure.”2

Did you notice the use of word “real”? Interestingly, the realness of printed direct mail marketing pieces is the source of its power.

Even advanced neuroscience supports the power of printed mail. In a study for the UK’s Royal Mail, market research firm Millward Brown used functional Magnetic Resonance Imagery (fMRI) scans to track brain reactions to physical and virtual stimuli. The tests demonstrated that the brain has a stronger, deeper physical reaction to hard copy mail compared to electronic information.

Using Neuroscience to Understand the Role of Direct Mail Millward Brown: Case Study

Using Neuroscience to Understand the Role of Direct Mail
Millward Brown: Case Study3

The study also reported that physical material, i.e., printed direct mail, triggers more emotional processing and “internalization” than its virtual counterparts. In other words, printed information increases a reader’s retention. For advertisers and marketers, who rely so heavily on generating emotional reactions among customers, this is music to their ears.3

A Steady Migration to Digital Print

So what does this mean for print service providers? A majority of direct mail work still involves a lithographic preprint and an overprinting of personalized data. Much like the migration of label production from flexo to digital processes, however, direct mail output is migrating away from analog and towards digital technology. Digital print technology offers the flexibility and the marketing impact of personalized content – variable text, design, and images that can speak to an audience of one. Unlike offset, digital print processes require no plates or cylinders. They are also engineered specifically to produce short runs more economically, and will, as a more viable print technology, apply ongoing pressure on offset.

The Nanography® Solution

For direct mail print providers, Landa Nanographic Printing® Technology enables a painless conversion from offset/analog to one-pass, full-color digital production. Many direct mail marketers are also seeking to introduce color into their pieces.

Landa Nanographic Printing® Presses produce throughput up to 6,500 B1 (41 in./1,050 mm) sheets per hour, up to five times the speed of other digital solutions. It’s the first technology to combine the signature features of offset and digital print, merging high quality and fast throughput with variable print flexibility.

1. The expression derives from the popular form of a longer statement by the American writer, Mark Twain, which appeared in the New York Journal of 2 June 1897: ‘The report of my death was an exaggeration’.
2. USPS, “Enhancing Mail for Digital Natives” (2013).
3. Millward-Brown, “Using Neuroscience to Understand the Role of Direct Mail” (2009).

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