Direct Mail: Who Do You Think is Reading It?

Direct Mail: Who Do You Think is Reading It?

Retro and vintage are cool. Old fashioned isn’t. What makes something more traditional seem relevant, even cool, compared to something that just seems well past its sell-by date?

As certain sales and marketing channels become overcrowded with traffic, there are viable alternatives.  But they may not appear so at first.

Take email marketing for example. There is a received wisdom that, because it is more widely used than direct mail, and, crucially, because it is digital, it is the best means of marketing directly to people.

However, as print marketing specialist John Bardsley of Heaton Press explains, recent studies suggest that there is potentially a much wider, and younger, audience for direct mail than you might assume.

Direct mail has certain inherent advantages over email,” he observes, “and these work for a range of recipients, including millennials.”


The Psychology of Direct Mail

A study from the Centre for Experimental Consumer Psychology has found that tangible materials have a deeper impact on people than materials they view digitally.

“Physical materials produce more activity in the left and right lobe regions of the brain associated with putting together special and visual information,” John points out. “They also involve more emotional processing.”

“There is a sense of ‘realness’ about physical marketing materials, making people internalise them more effectively than digital information,” says John.


“Figures indicate that 42% of direct mail recipients scan direct mail for information, stopping for a few seconds to read its messages”

John Bardsley, Heaton Press


“Direct mail can get people’s attention and helps bolster a sense of trust in what they’re reading,” John states.


The Shock of the Old

Never underestimate the power of novelty for a new generation. As digital has become the new normal, so increasing numbers of young people are looking for something beyond instant gratification online.

“Nostalgia, especially for something you’ve never actually experienced, can be a powerful thing,” suggests John.


“People face overcrowded inboxes every day and a barrage of online information competing for their attention. Print is different

John Bardsley, Heaton Press


This is what John refers to as offline marketing, and younger people are increasingly receptive to it.

According to Royal Mail research, 32% of fledglings – young people living at home with their parents – say they are more likely to trust information they see in print than on the internet.

They are also receptive to the perceived quality of the print they receive, and more likely to find this kind of print more welcome, and memorable.


23% of young people living at home with parents have bought or ordered something, having received direct mail in the previous 12 months

John Bardsley, Heaton Press


“Obviously, you still must get the tone and style of your marketing correct for this audience,” John concludes, “but clearly, direct mail’s success is not restricted to an older, pre-digital market. Integrate this offline marketing with your online activity, to ensure you’re getting the best of both worlds.”

To discover how direct mail can grab the attention of your target audience, please call Heaton Press on 0161 442 1771 or visit

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