Snail Mail Isn’t Dead: 12 Ways to Engage Customers with Physical Mail

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Nearly every business is focusing on digital marketing these days – as they should. Email, social media, video and blog posts are all effective and viable ways to reach a consumer base that would sooner dictate notes to their smartphone than whip out a notepad and pen.

But this is not to say that traditional marketing methods are a thing of the past. Direct mail has gotten a bad rap as junk mail that goes right into the trash can, but when used properly it can help your business stand out. In fact, some people respond well to physical mail: Compu-Mail reported that, in 2015, 23% of consumers bought or ordered something as a result of receiving direct mail in the previous 12 months.

Below, 12 communications executives from Forbes Communications Council share advice that will allow you to tap into consumers’ nostalgia for receiving personal notes and packages via snail mail.

1. Be exclusive.

We use physical mail to invite top prospects to our events or to become members. Cutting through the noise of a C-level executive’s inbox is a constant challenge. A well-timed, well-designed, physical mail piece helps us stand out. Use exclusivity to entice the recipient to your website. Make them feel special. – Freya Smale, The Millennium Alliance

2. Get dimensional.

If you want your mail to be opened, be remembered and, best of all, elicit a response, send a box that arrives via UPS, FedEx, etc. It’s like receiving a gift! People will throw away envelopes in a heartbeat, but a dimensional package will be opened right away and engaged with. With simple, compelling messaging and a product sample, a dimensional package will be a home run. – Rebecca Kritzman, Equifax

3. Use social media to find your perfect target recipients.

One way we like to use physical mail is for surprise and delight. We often find users on social media complaining about not getting a good night’s sleep or being tired at work, so we will message them for their mailing address and send gifts – anything from a sleep mask to a memory foam pillow or even a mattress. This helps us remain top of mind for the consumer. – G’Nai Blakemore, Mattress Firm

4. Make it handwritten.

While it’s nice to receive a thank-you email, it’s more sincere to receive print mail that is addressed by hand. Take five minutes out of your day to handwrite your clients or customers a thank-you card. A simple yet authentic handwritten gesture such as this will surpass any digital card or email, and will allow you to connect with others on a more personal level. – Makenzie Bonham, Burnett’s Staffing, Inc.

5. Use seeded paper to grow together.

Whether it be recycled, reused or reclaimed, the trend of circular is at the forefront. If you are going to send physical mail, don’t get thrown out – get planted! Consider writing or printing on seeded paper and make an impression with impact. This to-be botanical beauty is eco-friendly and grows into a real plant or flower, leaving a physical reminder of your message. Stand out and grow together. – Bobby Chow, Firmenich

6. Send it via messenger.

Physical mail is your secret weapon when prospecting new clients or partners. Your average prospect receives hndreds of emails on a daily basis. That’s a lot of digital noise to cut through. Have a messenger deliver a custom care package (cupcakes, edible arrangements, flowers, etc.) with a personalized note/offer directly to their office. – Sabrina Clark,, Inc.

7. Integrate your digital and direct mail efforts.

Take the time to integrate digital marketing with your direct mail efforts. Improve your return on investment by embracing personalized URLs (PURLs) and custom landing pages in direct mail campaigns. These digital efforts give potential consumers a firsthand experience of your brand while experiencing a high level of customer care. Plus, PURLs are fun to create. – Alysia Gradney, Vision Source

8. Send a personalized note from your CEO.

We created a book campaign around “The Quest,” a book about reducing the cost of energy through life extension. We sent the book with a personalized note from our CEO to all of our customers and prospects. It provided an opportunity to call to ensure the prospect got the book and schedule a follow-up discussion. – Jill Szpylman, Sentient Science

9. Send a post-meeting thank-you note.

I always make a point to send a handwritten note after meeting with someone for the first time. Email doesn’t carry the same weight; a handwritten note shows you’re taking the time to build a relationship and you can add a touch of your personality with customized stationary. Don’t be afraid to go retro with snail mail to get past cluttered inboxes. – Ashley Murphy, Stribling & Associates

10. Choose a special date.

Not many people like getting snail mail, but handwritten notes carry a bit of curiosity and nostalgia that few can ignore. Use that to your advantage and send handwritten letters to your most valued customers — but choose a date that’s unique. Instead of a standard holiday message, consider sending a note on an anniversary or birthday to ensure you truly stand out from the crowd. – Brandie Claborn, McAfee

11. Send a treat with a note.

We’ve seen a five-time increase in lead-to-appointment rates with cold prospects by sending them a tin of delicious cookies along with a personalized, handwritten card as a way to open a conversation. It quickly warms up the gatekeeper so that when our sales rep calls, they say “Oh! You’re the guys who sent the cookies! Let me put you through.” – Corey Quinn, Scorpion

12. Create a video mailer.

A few years ago, our client approached us with a problem: They wanted to boost the effectiveness of their door-to-door sales. We designed a motion graphic that explained their product in one minute. They mailed out this motion graphic to prospective clients using UviaUs video players — small, affordable and beautifully packaged. It boosted contacts more than 25%. – Erin McCoy, Killer Infographics

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