A while ago, The Royal Mail conducted a research study to discover how much influence printed mail has on long term memory encoding (LTME).
In one of the largest media studies they found that mail more easily triggers recall, with a 32 percent improvement than on LTME than email, and 72 percent higher than television.
If you’ve ever read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink (and if you haven’t, I urge you to), or the Chimp Paradox (again, highly recommend this one) you’ll know a significant part of our brain operates on a subconscious level – autodrive if you will.
In the book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell explores the ability to “thin slice” which is to delve into that subconscious, automated respose behaviour to make decisions in high pressure situations more quickly and more reliably.
Clearly, reading a piece of direct mail rarely occurs in a high pressure situation (I might be wrong) but the automatic retention of the information you see in a direct mail piece is interesting. The fact that you retain information more readily from a physical piece of mail is crucial to your planning, particularly how you time the various channels of your campaigns, to elicit the most responses.
This study was part of the Royal Mail’s Private Life of Mail programme, which contains a lot of research in this area, and if you use direct mail as a channel, you should definitely read it.