Trust Me, I’m in Print

Following on from my last article, An Oasis of Calm in a World of Scrolling, today I will start to examine what is driving print’s growing effectiveness in our digital economy.  This article explores how print – particularly direct mail – makes customers feel.

In the today’s turbulent times, where customer trust has been eroded due to fake news, uncertain future and proliferation of commercial messages, there is something profoundly reassuring about physical communication.  A Royal Mail MarketReach white paper* sums it up nicely:

“People seem to feel that mail and other printed communications are intrinsically more trustworthy, perhaps because they are tangible and cannot be erased with the swipe of a finger.”

Customer survey findings bear this out – 87% of people consider mail to be believable, compared with only 48% for email.  70% of respondents feel valued when they receive mail – up from 57% in 2013.  This compares with a figure of just 30% for email.

Ironically, advances in technology are largely to thank for the growing popularity of this traditional medium.  More sophisticated data management, combined with greater opportunities to personalise communications, ensure their increasing relevance to customers.  Furthermore, the rise and rise of email marketing renders physical mail a rarity and valued more highly as a result.

One respondent offered this explanation:

“…it’s more the thought that goes behind it. If you’re sending something through the post you physically had to go out and do something for that person…”

  • Susan, early 50s


The DMA has cautioned the industry about inappropriate use of email, stating customers’ “faith in the channel has been shaken” thanks to “too many emails, too many irrelevant emails and too many emails from companies they don’t recognise.”

Now, far from advocating the abandonment of email marketing, I am urging a more nuanced approach to our media communications, to ensure we are using the most relevant media for the task at hand.

As long ago as 2014, a MarketReach white paper offered valuable insight into customers’ media preferences**:

“Customers are very clear about what they prefer to receive by mail. They prefer to receive items of substance that they can spend time with and keep.  Equally, there are some communications like quick updates that customers prefer to receive via email. So, complementarity pays.”

So, consider the power of print in your marketing mix, working hand in hand with email and other relevant media, to maximise the both the impact and return on investment of your marketing campaigns.

*   The Value of Mail in Uncertain Times, Royal Mail MarketReach, August 2017

** It’s all about Mail and Email, Royal Mail MarketReach, 2014