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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - CEO Advisory - 3 Ways to Win Over Digital Natives With Physical Marketing

CEO Advisory

3 Ways to Win Over Digital Natives With Physical Marketing

Rhett Power

Although Millennials and Gen Zers grew up with technology all around them, they still prioritize personal gestures and thoughtful experiences outside of the “digital” box. This article will provide ways companies can use this knowledge to better engage with Millennials and Gen Zers with physical marketing.

You might look at the crowds of Millennials and Gen Zers filling today’s marketplace and imagine that their heads are, quite literally, in “the cloud.”

These are the digital natives. They grew up surrounded by technology; many of them learned to read and write on tablets and computers. But even though these tech natives are leading other generations by the hand through the digital landscape, they still prioritize personal gestures and thoughtful experiences. They love a good greeting card.

Why Is Direct Mail So Influential for Digital Natives?

It may seem like an unlikely strategy, but direct mail can be a highly effective way to engage members of digital-native generations.

In an increasingly digital world, direct mail stands out. Many people receive emailed newsletters and e-coupons on their birthdays and special occasions, which are easily forgotten or ignored. Conversely, when they receive direct, physical communication through cards or handwritten notes, they are more likely to experience an emotional effect.

While digital marketing is easier to track and has a more visible relationship to return on investment, direct mail can cut through the noise of digital marketing to capture attention and even loyalty. Think about it: According to research by Mailbird, 35% of all emails sent go unread. Email noise is deafening, with hundreds of billions of emails sent every day. Meanwhile, according to the United States Postal Service, the average household gets 454 pieces of mail annually. In comparison, these messages stand out like gems.

Kim Totty is the director of marketing at Hallmark Business Connections, the B2B unit of Hallmark that helps businesses connect in stronger, more meaningful ways with customers and employees. She notes: “When a Hallmark card is sent as direct mail, it will have an even longer impact than traditional mail because the Hallmark brand has a reputation for sending personal, thoughtful content.” After all, a personal and unique card will engage 91% of your audience, while an email will grab just 1%.

How to Think Outside the Digital Box When Engaging With Digital Natives

Now you know that Millennials and Gen Zers are sitting by the mailbox, just waiting for some direct mail. How can you use this knowledge to hone your physical marketing efforts more successfully?

  1. Take advantage of direct mail’s personalization.
    At this point, Millennials and Gen Zers are used to receiving personalized messages and experiences from brands, even in digital channels, so it would be a mistake for brands to forget about personalizing direct mail. How could you use what you know about your recipient to make your message more interesting? Could you speak to some shared affinities or values?

    Hallmark ran a campaign for a pet supply company that focused on celebrating pet birthdays. With just one piece of information, greeting cards became incredibly meaningful and personal. Plus, because pet owners were so delighted that their pets had been remembered, they were more than willing to jump onto social media and show off their birthday cards.

  2. Boost digital with a physical touch.
    Coming across as authentic goes a long way toward driving brand affinity. You can add authenticity to your digital campaigns by having a physical element. This can be especially effective for Gen Zers who naturally use technology to get things done but crave meaningful connections and rare experiences.

    Consider adding small, human touches to digital and direct mail. Things like real handwriting, personal messages of appreciation, or mentions of something important to the consumer will deepen your relationship. You can even provide a physical coupon so that the Millenial or Gen Zer can experience the twin delights of collecting and being thrifty.

  3. Bring people joyfully back into digital.
    Adding a human touch to the digital world goes both ways. You could add a QR code to a piece of direct mail, for example, to bring the recipient seamlessly back into the digital world when they’re ready to take action.

    Use direct mail as a way to break through and drive more digital engagements. Add a URL with tracking or include an offer to drive people back to your website in order to redeem.

    For example, Hallmark used QR codes in a campaign for a health-focused financial services brand to drive traffic back to educational content on the brand’s website. The content delivered advice about developing healthy habits, so it connected with how customers were already thinking. The campaign ended up driving a 5% click-through rate from greeting card to site in just a month.

Direct mail should be a core and complementary part of your strategy for talking to digitally savvy generations. It can help you to create a cohesive and engaging customer experience, a more well-rounded one that can reassure and delight people, making them feel more connected and cared about.


Written by Rhett Power.
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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - CEO Advisory - 3 Ways to Win Over Digital Natives With Physical Marketing
Rhett Power
Rhett Power is responsible for helping corporate leadership take the actions needed to drive impact and courage in their teams that will improve organizational performance. He is the author of The Entrepreneur’s Book of Actions: Essential Daily Exercises and Habits for Becoming Wealthier, Smarter, and More Successful (McGraw-Hill Education) and co-founder of Wild Creations, an award-winning start-up toy company. After a successful exit from the toy company, Rhett was named the best Small Business Coach in the United States. In 2019 he joined the prestigious Marshall Goldsmith's 100 Coaches and was named the #1 Thought Leader on Entrepreneurship by Thinkers360. He is a Fellow at The Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School affiliate. He travels the globe speaking about entrepreneurship and management alongside the likes of former Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann and AOL Founder Steve Case. Rhett Power is an acclaimed author, leader, entrepreneur and an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.