Direct mail more influential on purchasing habits than digital ads | DMA

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Direct mail more influential on purchasing habits than digital ads


We found this headline a bit of a shock in all honesty, considering all the hype and media attention anything digital seems to receive nowadays – but it seems that direct mail has a far more impressive psychological impact on consumers than digital ads of any kind.

As we specialise in providing direct mail services to clients (amongst other services too) we naturally wanted to find out more. According to the Direct Marketing website a neuroscientific study sponsored by the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) discovered that in eight out of nine measured categories – which included things such as attention span, engagement, stimulation, desirability and purchase willingness – direct mail ads were more successful than digital.

The participants had their eye movements tracked, heart rate monitored and respiration measured to gauge emotional response. MRI scans were even done to track brain activity. Attention was the only category where digital ads prevailed – but that was only in terms of capturing a consumers’ attention; when it came to holding their attention, direct mail again came out on top.

There were three categories where both direct and digital ads tied in their effect on consumers: engagement, memory retrieval accuracy and purchase willingness. Direct mail proved most effective for review time, stimulation, memory speed, confidence, desirability and valuation.

Following these results the OIG also created some best practice guidelines. These included considering sequencing options when it comes to advertising campaigns, and possibly including augmented reality or QR codes in direct mail offerings.

Are you surprised that direct mail is still more effective in a number of areas than digital ads? Do you see digital services slowly overtaking direct mail in the years to come, or are physical ads here to stay?

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