Why Direct Mail is still effective in the Digital Age – from a Gen-Z perspective

Jess Walmsley

With the digital age truly taking hold of today’s world as we know it, digital fatigue has taken hold of us all. With constant Zoom meetings, binge watching TV series, and endlessly scrolling through social media, people are looking for ways to form connections that don’t entail staring at a brightly lit screen.

From a consumers’ perspective, being constantly hounded by the same social media ads and junk mail in your inbox can become tiresome – to the point where you just hit delete or scroll past without a second thought. Digital marketing has become mainstream.

by Jess Walmsley

As a Gen-Z follower of many beauty and fashion brands across social media platforms, and email subscriber to a variety of online stores, seeing the same style, repetitive adverts is relatively dull. But, if you were to replace the mainstream and repetitive digital marketing campaigns with a piece of physical direct mail that had an engaging call-to-action… then you’d really capture my attention. Businesses nowadays view direct mail as being outdated and untrackable, however, this is not the case. Receiving a piece of physical direct mail captures the desire for concrete, and real-life connection. Moreover, it will allow you to stand out and drive real results by engaging more with people at home, by breaking through the crowded digital world. Statistics reveal that the average response rate for direct mail is between 2.7% and 4.4%, compared to an email’s 0.6% response rate1. This reinforces the idea that digital marketing campaigns do not create the desired impact. And, more importantly, there are in fact several ways which you can use to measure response from direct mail and other print campaigns…


The modest QR code.

By incorporating a QR code into a piece of direct mail, you immediately capture the consumer journey from scan through to purchase; or whatever your CTA may be, while also adding a certain level of convenience. You can incorporate any URL into a QR code, whether that’s a buy page, specific advert, coupon code… the list is endless. By already holding some data of the individual to which the mail has been sent, when a QR code is scanned, geotargeting can be used to show the number of scans per area, and even be pinpointed down to a specific address! This allows you to analyse the engagement of your campaign specific to location.


Campaign specific landing pages.

Building on the use of a QR code, using a homepage as the CTA should be avoided where possible. This will make it harder to analyse the actual engagement of your specific campaign, as the response rates will be clouded by any other visitors that you have to your website. Using a campaign-specific landing page can be the easiest way to measure direct mail campaigns, but you need to be sure it is configured correctly so that it only gets web page visits from the campaign2. Once implemented, you will be able to determine the exact response rates which you know are campaign-specific.


Unique discount codes.

The utilisation of a unique discount code for online or in-store purchases, or a promotional code which provides access to some content or service, is another great tool which you can use to measure the success rate of your campaign. By creating a single use code, this will allow you to again access campaign-specific data. This could be done in several ways: A unique code could be printed onto the piece of physical direct mail using variable data printing, allowing you to convert an anonymous website visitor into a known one, or to A/B test different content2. Another way to incorporate this, is again, through the QR code… are you sensing the theme here? The unique discount code can be generated through first party data capture after the consumer scans the QR code and enters their information – giving you a set of data to use for future campaigns, whilst analysing the effectiveness of the campaign too.

Overall, it would seem that the stereotypically ‘old fashioned’ direct mail is truly making a comeback within the crowded digital world. When combined with the use of a QR code, you’ll be on the way to creating, successfully analysing campaign-specific data, and engaging consumers with an effective campaign in no time – no matter who your target audience is.


1 Newswires
2 Modernostratergies