Opening an envelope feels like opening a present

Checking your (physical) mailbox and collecting, opening the mail pieces is packed with emotions, positive emotions. A recent study in France proves this, with the help of new technologies. And this emotion-packed experience is something brands and marketers should be aware of: it can benefit your marketing.

CONTENTS: The setup | Opening the mailbox | The emotions involved | Enhancing the emotions | Why is this important? 

It is an emotional thing, opening your mailbox. It is a special time of the day: contrary to digital communication, there is only one moment per day that you receive new pieces in your mailbox. That alone makes it already special: it creates kind of Pavlovian conditioning when you hear the mail arriving, the mailbox moment.

The setup
Now the complete experience has been documented by qualitative research in France, using modern techniques. The research was done directly at the home of the individuals, without explaining the goal of the research. Following techniques were used: eye tracking glasses which were linked to an AI-powered system for content recognition; a bracelet to detect micro-perspiration which made it possible to identify the emotions involved. The research was completed with 30 minutes face-to-face interviews and a mobile notebook to follow the behavior over a period of 10 days, including measuring the impact of publicity folders. 

Opening the mailbox
There are two steps in receiving physical mail: the first is opening the mailbox and sorting out the mail, the second is opening and reading or browsing the received mail pieces.

And already the opening of the mailbox, although something quite ordinary, is packed with emotions: it puts the receiver in a positive state of mind, it fuels curiosity.

Publicity folders are, at first, quickly browsed, while personalized mail is always opened and without any delay: it arouses a strong curiosity. Thanks to the name of the recipient on the envelope, it is associated with a strong emotional charge.

The publicity folders (or other unaddressed printed materials) are usually consulted a second time, during a privileged reading moment. People take the time to browse them, to discover promotions and news, linger on the pages and products that might be of interest. 

The emotions involved
Physical mail can involve different emotions, the most cited ones are all positive: curiosity, pleasure and satisfaction. Negative emotions are very rare, contrary to reports about digital advertising, emails.

The most important emotions: curiosity, pleasure, satisfaction.


Enhancing the emotions
Not only do these emotions happen, they can also be enhanced. A first and important one is targeting and personalizing the content. The second technique is to use special formats, materials, samples, … These get noticed and they are unconsciously selected and opened in priority because they surprise and attract the eye.

Special formats enhance the emotions and get noticed.

In the case of publicity folders, a very simple trick to get a higher response is to mention the address of the closest store. And – as I showed before – using promotional coupons and samples are also very effective. Receiving promotional coupons and samples both feel like getting a present.

There is, however, one thing you must keep in mind: the complete experience should be consistent. A very creative envelope with a rather dull letter inside won’t work: it will disappoint. And even with a very creative mail piece, the message should still be very clear and simple: being able to read and comprehend the information quickly, brings satisfaction to the readers. 

Why is this important?
Marketing is sending more and more money to digital channels, because influencers tell that’s where the action is. However, this research clearly shows the benefit of one of the old channels: physical mail. It is covered with emotions, positive emotions to be clear. Not the irritation that many (or most?) people feel with digital – and certainly mobile – marketing. A physical mail piece generates the same feelings as a present: curiosity, pleasure, satisfaction. And when it has a discount coupon or a sample, it really is considered being a present.

Make your customers and prospects happy: sent them a physical mail piece!


PS: the results of this study were only published in French. If you understand French, you might want to check this article, or look at this video. And in case you don’t understand French, Google Translate or Bing Translator might help you.


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About Eddy Hagen 133 Articles
The printing industry has changed significantly over the last few decades. And that change isn't over yet. Eddy Hagen has been observing all these changes from a front row seat, since 1988. He has seen and debunked hypes that still don't deliver. He has seen and promoted small evolutions that had a big impact. He has connected the dots to get a better view. He is an independent mind who might be able to give you unique insights in the world of print and innovation.

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