Don’t Hide in the Bushes: How to Use Direct Mail to Target Millennials

By: Felicia Savage

People love talking about Millennials, and as a member of the “me, me, me” generation, I can tell you that we really don’t mind all the attention. What many marketers don’t get, however, is how to target us as consumers.


Millennials are the most tech-savvy generation in history. We are also notoriously self-obsessed. “I know!” says the marketer, “We’ll show them banner ads of those clothes they abandoned in their Amazon cart!”


“What do you mean they find it creepy?”

That’s the great question facing many marketers today. You know how to target young adults, but how do you walk that line between being a marketer who knows his consumers and a man with binoculars hiding in their bushes?


Direct Mail to the Rescue


Direct mail? Really? I thought you said this generation was tech-savvy! Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who is surprised.


Research has shown that 90 percent of Millennials believe direct mail ads are reliable and 57 percent have made a purchase based on a direct mail offer. Ironically enough, if you’re ignoring direct mail to go digital, you’re actually ignoring many of the most digitally inclined consumers in the world.


Why It Works


Mass marketing is proving less and less effective with Millennials. Critics of our generation would say it’s because we’re self obsessed, but I prefer to think that we hold brands to a higher standard. We don’t want to buy on brand recognition alone, we want to be wooed first.


So why does direct mail work? According to ExactTarget’s 2012 Channel Preference Study, direct mail is the only channel where an unsolicited message isn’t considered inappropriate. Unsolicited email is spam. Unsolicited pop ups get blocked. Unsolicited mail with my name on it, however, makes me feel special. “Oh, how nice of that credit card company to think of me!”


It’s a Multi-Channeled World, We’re Just Living In It


Direct mail critics aren’t entirely wrong, though. Mail alone isn’t very effective. Great marketers have learned that direct mail is their foot in the door, and getting consumers to follow up is the next step. The most effective direct mail ads we’ve seen work in conjunction with digital channels. Whether this means leading consumers to a microsite or texting for a special offer, creating a call to action that they can respond to in the comfort of their own home dramatically increases the chance that they will do so.


At the end of the day, Millennials would rather take their relationships online than make them online. By establishing the relationship at the mailbox, you increase the chances that younger consumers will respond to your ads online and become customers. Who knows? They may even make things “facebook official.”