Running your marketing campaign like a political campaign

Look up! As I imagine a young person in their 20s, I can’t help but envision them leaning over a glowing screen listening to music while texting and scanning the newsfeeds of multiple social networks. Generational perceptions like this have guided marketing campaigns for more than a decade, yet recent studies show businesses may actually achieve better results by also integrating direct mail into their marketing campaigns. Using current events as an example, the success of this multichannel strategy can be seen through political mail campaigns.

In 2012, nearly 3 billion political mail pieces were sent, and this number is likely to increase during the 2016 campaign season.1 We see a large volume of direct mail being sent during these campaigns, but is it successful in reaching and resonating with younger generations? Here are some interesting – and perhaps surprising findings – about Millennials and their political mail habits from a study conducted by USPS and the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC). I think these findings are not only thought-provoking from a broader demographic perspective, but also valuable for businesses looking to reach this audience.

1. Millennials see a need for direct mail.

It’s hard to deny the convenience and real-time nature the digital realm offers, but there are times when Millennials prefer information in physical form. In our study, many Millennials (42%) prefer political mail over political online advertising2. The overwhelming majority of young people believe political mail is important in both state and local elections (82% and 80% respectively)3, as well as national elections.

Looking outside of the political arena, when it comes to bills, Millennials are the most likely group to pay online, yet 34% say businesses switching to online only billing would be undesirable4. These findings show that despite the availability and ease of digital channels, Millennials also value physical mail.

2. Millennials are engaging with direct mail.

It’s true many Millennials are tapped into their mobile devices, but there’s still ample opportunity for physical mail to grab their attention and engage them. In fact, a 2015 Gallup Poll showed 36% of Millennials look forward to coming home and checking the mail each day5.

Millennials are immediately opening this mail too – our study found 41% of 22-24 year olds and 37% of 25-34 year olds immediately read mail sent to their house.6 Additionally, Millennials are actually spending more time sorting their mail than anyone else – 9.2 minutes compared to the national average of 8.4 minutes7. These findings show us that Millennials are playing an active and engaged role in direct mail consumption.

3. Millennials use mail to learn.

Receiving direct mail facilitates interest and drives conversation with peers. Millennials read political mail at a higher rate than non-Millennials (40% vs. 18%) and are also more likely to discuss it than non-Millennials (78% vs. 63%)8.

We see Millennials are using direct mail to learn, with our study showing that because of political mail, they take their curiosity further in using direct mail as a gateway first step for finding more information via digital channels. About two-in-three (66%) of Millennials are likely to search for information about the candidate online, and the majority are taking their search directly to the candidate’s website (54%)9.

We marketers understand digital strategies are a must for targeting Millennials, and because of this, it seems many digital channels have become over-saturated. An effective way to capture the attention of Millennials may be to consider fulfilling both their digital and non-digital appetites in a multichannel approach. Our study shows this digitally-connected generation still sees a need for – and uses – mail delivered to their brick-and-mortar inbox. The next time you receive a political ad in your mailbox, remember the positive impact direct mail marketing could have for your business – and your younger potential audience.

1USPS PostalOne! Data, 2014

2 –3 American Association of Political Consultants, USPS “Political Mail and Millennials”, 2016

4USPS, “USPS Mail Moments”, 2016

3 Gallup “Four in 10 Americans Look Forward to Checking Mail”, 2015

6 American Association of Political Consultants, USPS “Political Mail and Millennials”, 2016

7USPS, “USPS Mail Moments”, 2016

8-9 American Association of Political Consultants, USPS “Political Mail and Millennials”, 2016