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Is Direct Mail Dead? Not So, Say Millennials

youth / millennials / elections / voting / generational research / in the news / featured

As a Millennial, I know firsthand how much my generation relies on the digital world as an information source. So when I read that 42% of Millennials prefer political mail over digital forms, I went straight to the source of the statistic to find out more: a white paper recently released by the United States Postal Service (USPS) , which summarizes the results of a survey and series of focus groups concerning Millennials’ attitudes and perceptions about political mail. While there is a plethora of research to support how digitally inclined (or even dependent) Millennials are, the USPS study is unique in that it captures the behaviors of Millennials from a different angle.

Results suggest that grabbing the attention of Millennials through digital marketing is not the only important approach to reaching this generation with political messages – 42% of Millennials preferred political ads by mail over online ads and another 38% liked both modes equally. That’s certainly not to say that Millennials don’t use the web to find political and voting information – not surprisingly, they liked direct mail pieces that provided links to web resources for them to gather more information. In terms of the perceived purposes of political mail, a majority of Millennials reported that it functions to 1) promote conversation about elections and 2) to motivate voters (potential voters) to take action. A recent direct mail campaign conducted by Fors Marsh Group focused on the second of these purposes – motivating voters (and potential voters) to take action.

In support of our work with the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), FMG mailed voting reminder pamphlets to 1.3 million active duty Military members of all ages, urging them to register to vote and complete their absentee ballots as soon as possible. In addition to the pamphlet, FMG is about to launch a second, similar direct mail campaign, which will add Military spouses and overseas citizens – any U.S. citizens living overseas for work, leisure, etc. you may know them as expats – to the target population. Elements of the postcard designs included a succinct two-step absentee voting process, deadlines for taking action, and links to more detailed voting information on the web.

Federal Voting Assistance Program – Americans can vote. Wherever they are

Federal Voting Assistance Program – Americans can vote. Wherever they are

Throughout all of FVAP’s voter outreach efforts, younger voters are consistently a special interest group because they make up a large proportion of the Military, and tend to vote at a lower rate than other age groups. The findings and recommendations from the USPS study on Millennials can shed some light on how our direct mail postcards might be received by this audience of young Military members.

Several key findings indicate that our direct mail approach was a great strategy for providing young voters with the information and resources to vote absentee, as these elements were part of the key strategies employed in our absentee voting postcards:

  • Millennials receive less mail than other groups, as many marketing strategies and bill-paying systems are now online, so the simple fact that they receive a piece of mail can pique their interest.
  • Millennials reported that they like direct mail pieces that are informative in terms of the voting process, telling them where and when to vote. They also prefer simple messaging with limited text and links to online resources with more information.
  • Millennials’ attention was grabbed best by small, two-sided postcard designs that included high-contrast colors, bullet point of key information, and pop culture references or light humor.

The USPS white paper highlights, more generally, the importance of making sure U.S. citizens actually receive the voting information that so many groups are disseminating during election season. It’s not enough to simply assume that all technologically-savvy Millennials will be reached effectively through digital media. Direct mail is still relevant. Still attention-grabbing. Still effective. Even for young voters.

Millennials: Weigh in on Twitter – mention @ForsMarshGroup! And tell us your thoughts on Millennials and mail. Do you think it’s a good way to reach you when it comes to important information? What’s the best way to catch your attention in the mail?


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