Make a Lasting Impression – The Printing Express

Make a Lasting Impression


Direct mail beats email: It’s a brain thing


Have you heard the term “neuromarketing”? If not, it’s a pretty cool topic that affects marketers everywhere. It refers to how consumers’ brains respond to stimuli in various marketing scenarios, including how we receive information in the first place and from which channels.

So which channels really work best, especially for more complex or higher dollar products, such as new siding or the right solar power system for a customer’s home? A number of studies provide us with critical insights.

One of these comes from Temple University’s Center for Neural Decision Making, which worked with the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) to conduct a study focused on the differing responses to physical and digital media in the consumer buying process. The study linked consumers’ subconscious responses to three buying phases:

The study found that while participants could process the information from digital ads more quickly than from print ads, the details weren’t retained or as easily recalled later. When it came to physical ads,

• Participants spent more time with them.
• They had stronger emotional responses and were more likely to remember those ads later.
• Although participants stated similar preferences and willingness to pay for the item whether it was delivered in physical or digital format, their brain activity indicated a greater subconscious desire for products advertised in print.

“These findings have practical implications for marketers,” note the authors of the report. “If short on time, the digital format captures attention quicker. However, for longer lasting impact and easy recollection, a physical mail piece is the superior option.”

The study goes on to suggest a complementary effect between print and digital formats that could provide a powerful way for marketers to optimize their media mix and get better results.

This study builds on earlier studies by Royal Mail/Millward Brown and Canada Post/Ipsos, which found that physical media generated deeper brain activity than digital media and that physical mail generates stronger response in terms of engagement, emotional intensity, and memory compared to email and television.

So there you have it—the brain likes print!