How to Use Direct Mail for the Generations

January 30, 2024by Larisa Bedgood0

Each generation, from Baby Boomers to Generation Z, has distinct preferences, values, and communication styles.  Understanding and adapting to the distinct characteristics of each generation is important to maximize the success of direct mail marketing campaigns. 

Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1964):

More than any other generation, Boomers prefer to read promotional deals and communications via direct mail rather than digital forms like email.  According to research, two-thirds of Boomers have a better impression of a brand that sends out direct mail, and one-third of Boomers visited a brand’s website after receiving relevant marketing mail. Additionally, 89% of Boomers expect and look for special offers in the mail; coupons/deals are the most effective element for them on direct mail pieces.

To effectively target this generation, who value trust, loyalty, and reliability, consider these five tips:

  • Use Personalization – Baby Boomers appreciate personalized communication. Address recipients by their names and consider tailoring your offers and messaging based on their interests and preferences. Personalization shows that you’ve taken the time to understand their needs.
  • Highlight Trust and Reliability – Build your messaging around trust and reliability. Emphasize your brand’s long-standing presence, quality products or services, and customer satisfaction. Use customer testimonials and reviews to reinforce your reputation.
  • Offer Clear Information – Baby Boomers appreciate clear and straightforward information. Provide all necessary details about your products or services, including pricing, features, and benefits. Avoid jargon and confusion; make it easy for them to understand what you offer.
  • Use Traditional Design Elements – Baby Boomers often respond well to traditional design elements. Stick to classic fonts, layouts, and color schemes. While modern design can be eye-catching, it’s essential to maintain a sense of familiarity and timelessness.
  • Include Contact Information – Provide clear and prominent contact information, including a phone number. Baby Boomers are comfortable with phone interactions, and having a direct line to your business can instill confidence and facilitate inquiries or orders.

Generation X (Born 1965-1980):

68% of Gen-Xers used coupons they received in the mail.  Targeting Generation X with direct mail marketing requires a nuanced approach that aligns with their values, preferences, and communication style. Here are tips to effectively engage Gen X through direct mail:

  • Multichannel Integration – Gen Xers are comfortable with both digital and traditional communication channels. Create a seamless multichannel experience by integrating your direct mail campaign with online elements. Include personalized URLs (PURLs) or QR codes that lead recipients to dedicated landing pages, where they can access additional information, promotions, or interactive content. 
  • Highlight Convenience – Gen Xers often have busy lives, juggling careers and family responsibilities. Emphasize how your products or services can simplify their lives and save them time. Showcase features like online ordering, home delivery, or quick solutions that align with their desire for convenience.
  • Limited-Time Offers – Create a sense of urgency by incorporating limited-time promotions or exclusive discounts into your direct mail campaigns. Gen Xers are more likely to respond when they perceive a time-sensitive opportunity to save money or access special deals. Clearly communicate expiration dates and the benefits of acting promptly.
  • Incorporate Reviews and Testimonials – Gen Xers rely on peer recommendations and reviews when making purchasing decisions. Include user-generated content, customer testimonials, or online ratings in your direct mail materials. Social proof can instill trust and confidence in your brand.
  • Provide Detailed Information – Gen Xers appreciate comprehensive information that enables them to make informed choices. Ensure that your direct mail pieces contain detailed product descriptions, pricing, and features. If applicable, highlight how your offerings compare favorably to competitors’ products or services. 

Millennials (Born 1981-1996):

Millennials are a diverse and tech-savvy generation that values sustainability, social responsibility, and authenticity. Despite being a digital-first generation, they respond well to direct mail. According to the USPS, nearly 90% of Millennials enjoy receiving and reading direct mail content. The same study reported that 57% of Millennials receiving direct mail act on the offers presented to them.

Additional, according to research, 47% of millennials went to a brand’s website after receiving direct mail, the highest percentage of any age group. Here are tips for using direct mail when targeting millennials.

  • Use Retargeting Campaigns – Millennials have the best perception of direct mail when used for retargeting, with 64% saying they would be likely to read it.  A retargeting direct mail campaign is sent to someone who previously visited your website.
  • Sustainability Matters – Highlight your brand’s commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly practices. Millennials are environmentally conscious and appreciate businesses that share their values. Use recycled or sustainable materials for your direct mail pieces and clearly communicate your green initiatives.
  • Integrate with Social Media – Include your social media handles and encourage millennials to connect with your brand online. Consider running social media campaigns that complement your direct mail efforts, creating a seamless multichannel experience.
  • Be creative – According to the USPS, millennials have the highest interest in direct mail innovations. Consider including tear-off coupons, scratch-off areas revealing discounts, or hidden messages that require unfolding or manipulating the mailer. Or use die cuts to create pop-up elements, unique folds, or intriguing shapes that pique the curiosity.

Generation Z (Born 1997-2012):

Direct mail particularly resonates with Gen Z because they have grown up with digital messaging, and mail presents something unique to them. To effectively engage Gen Z through direct mail, consider these tips:

  • Digital Integration – Gen Z is a digital-native generation, so it’s essential to bridge the gap between print and digital in your direct mail campaigns. Include QR codes, personalized URLs (PURLs), or scannable elements that lead recipients to online content, videos, or interactive experiences related to your brand or products. 
  • Bold Visuals and Creativity – Gen Z appreciates visually striking and creative content. Use bold and eye-catching visuals, unique design elements, and vibrant colors in your direct mail materials. Engage their artistic sensibilities with innovative graphics and designs that stand out.
  • Short and Snappy Messaging – Gen Z prefers concise, to-the-point messaging. Keep your copy clear, concise, and impactful. Highlight key benefits and features in a straightforward manner. Use bold headlines, bullet points, and compelling calls to action to capture their interest quickly.

By aligning your direct mail campaigns with the preferences of each generation, you can create targeted and impactful marketing efforts that resonate with your diverse audience.

For more information and ideas to help you fuel your customer acquisition programs, contact Welcome Wagon! Founded in 1928 to welcome new movers to their community, Welcome Wagon is committed to connecting with new homeowners through their mailboxes and online. 

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