In the battle between online and print advertising, one organization wants to prove that direct mail marketing still has an edge: the United States Postal Service.
And perhaps most interestingly, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the USPS is looking to neuroscience for evidence of direct mail’s superiority.
The USPS is currently reviewing neuroscience researchers to commission a study about the ways in which the human brain responds to physical (print) and digital media. Overall, the agency wants a conclusion that points to the role direct mail plays in consumer engagement and purchasing decisions.
The OIG is looking to the study of the brain, specifically, in order to give physiological evidence to the effects of these marketing tactics.
This isn’t the only such study that has looked at the correlation between advertising and the brain. In 2010, a study by Royal Mail in the U.K. discovered that physical media left a “deeper footprint” in the brain than digital media did.
Research determined that physical messages were more internalized by people because they produced more emotional responses and memories; these responses also increased the chance for a conversion.
“Marketing success is almost always going to include a mix of media,” comments Scott Trueblood, President of BrandVision Marketing. “Direct Marketing methods are still very much alive and well. They are highly targetable, deliverability is controllable and the medium is great for special offers. Even 76 percent of the ‘digital generation’ said that they have responded to an offer received in the mail in a recent Exact Target survey. That’s a pretty dominant number.”
In addition to the study of the brain, the OIG also wants to see what direct mail marketing tips companies can receive by studying the physical and emotional responses to print media.
Postmaster General and CEO of the USPS Patrick Donahoe commented on Sept. 10 that advertisers using print media play a key “role in America’s marketing mix.”
Donahoe explained in a statement that “Businesses are getting very savvy about integrating and combining mailing data with data from other marketing channels — especially digital.” He pointed to the blend of QR codes in print and digital advertising, and said that these innovations are what drive “the power and value of mail.”
Whether or not this is true, however, remains to be seen once the USPS gets its study off the ground.