Digital Fatigue

Last month I wrote about millennials being digital natives who can’t live without their technology: liking, snapping, shopping, and doing whatever they can to avoid ads. But how do they interact with something more tactile, like direct mail?  The stats may shock you.

As I talked about in my Teens and Smartphones post, it has become clear that this subset is actually attention discriminant.  They can decide in three seconds whether something is going to appeal to them or not. That is certainly the case with my two teenagers.  So, naturally, I assumed it would be similar with most millennials when it comes to direct mail. But, in fact they enjoy and respond to the tactile experience of opening their mailbox and finding a printed piece inside.

Wait for it … 84% of millennials take the time to look through their mail. It’s true. They still respond to the low-tech marketing approach – paper – that’s been around for centuries. And, 64% would rather scan their physical mail for useful information than email, says a USPS report released in 2016.

Need more proof? Neuroscience explains this one. A neuromarketing research study published by Canada Post shows that our brains react differently to printed material than to digital media. Participants’ recall was 70% higher if they were exposed to direct mail rather than a digital ad. Also, direct mail requires about 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital.

Perhaps it is “digital fatigue” that millennials are suffering from, but nearly 50% of them ignore digital ads, while only 12% ignore direct mail. If this is an untapped tactic for you, I urge you to throw it into your marketing mix and see what works.

A good way to start is to appeal to the values of millennials and incorporate multimedia, like augmented reality or NFC tags to connect them to an interactive experience. Being authentic is very important since millennials do not trust traditional advertising.

Last, but not least, millennials are compassionate and want to improve the world wherever they can make an impact. Campaigns that donate a percentage of profits to a cause they deem worthy or in some way demonstrates corporate responsibility will really leave an impression with them.