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Direct Mail Works — Science Says So

Posted by Brian Jones on June 29, 2023

Put your goggles on… grab your lab coat…

Because scientific studies and research have produced evidence that direct mail works.

The results of various surveys say that consumers not only trust direct mail more than other channels (because of the unique way our brains interact with tactile-based experiences) but also because we recall information we see on physical direct mail pieces more easily than we do from online ads.

Researchers found direct mail held participants' attention for 118% longer and stimulated 29% higher brand recall than digital advertising

And again, the "science" says that’s because our senses (touch, sight, smell sometimes) stimulate something deep in our brain that controls emotion.

Here are some "lab" notes:

  • A scientific study revealed that it takes consumers 21% less cognitive thinking to process 
    direct mail pieces than digital marketing. Canada Post (2016)
  • In a test that compared the impact of similar direct mail and digital media marketing campaigns, participants’ recall was 70% higher when they were exposed to direct mail versus a digital ad, which had a recall of 44%. Canada Post (2016
  • Researchers found direct mail held participants’ attention for 118% longer and stimulated 29% higher brand recall than digital advertising. Canada Post (2016)
  • Direct mail has a more significant emotional impact than digital ads, resulting in a stronger recall up to one week later. USPS (2015)
  • The study, “Enhancing the Value of Mail: The Human Response used
    eye-movement tracking and biometric measurements such as heart rateiStock-484611358 
    and respiration to gauge attention and emotional engagement with both digital and direct mail. It also captured brain activity when asked to recall an ad. The results showed participants experienced more excitement and desire for the valued items when interacting with direct mail. USPS (2015)

Maybe that’s why more companies
are using direct mail these days.

For many smart marketers, it’s still a vital part of their marketing mix.

In today’s always-on digital-first world, companies of all sizes are using direct mail — and getting good results. They consider it an essential marketing channel and a reliable way to boost their results and ROI. In fact...


  • 73% of marketers report direct mail has either increased in importance or kept the same level of importance in 2023 over 2022. RRD (2023)
  • 85% of marketers are adjusting their digital marketing strategy due to data privacy concerns — of those, 76% have opted to reallocate budget to direct mail. RRD (2023)
  • According to marketers, these are the top 3 benefits of direct mail: providing personalized messaging and offers; campaigns that relate to and complement a digital marketing strategy; and re-engagement campaigns to activate prior campaigns. RRD (2023)
  • 58% of marketers plan to increase their direct mail spend in 2023, with 16% planning to significantly increase it. Comperemedia (2023)
  • Direct mail advertising is currently valued at 9.8 billion in the United StatesIBISWorld (2022)
  • The direct mail advertising market is expected to reach $73.57 billion in 2026 at a compound annual growth rate of .3%. The Business Research Company (2022)
  • Postcards are the most frequently used type of direct mail — used by more than half of 580 professionals surveyed between May and June 2020. Marketing Charts (2020)

At J&C, our direct mail expertise helps CMOs create clear, compelling, and highly responsive campaigns. Our process and approach help clients keep their response rates up and their marketing ROIs high.

Contact J&C today if you aren't seeing the results you'd like from your direct mail experiments, J&C can help. For over 40 years, we've helped clients get better results from their campaigns. There's a reason marketers turn to direct mail again and again — because when you mix the right words, images, offers, CTAs, and DM know-how, it creates some powerful chemistry. 

Topics: Direct Marketing, Direct Mail, Creative

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