The Psychology of Direct Mail and the Promise of Color

The Psychology of Direct Mail and the Promise of Color - PaperSpecs / Ricoh

Spotlight: RICOH Graphic Communications

Surveys Reveal that We Look Forward to Getting Real Mail

Good news for direct mail: Research reports that mail offers mental benefits to recipients and that people look forward to receiving it. According to the USPS Market Research and Insights Report, “COVID Mail Attitudes,” 65% of consumers surveyed said that getting mail lifts their spirits, with 54% indicating that mail helps them feel more connected. (More than 1,000 adults participated in the online survey.)

Other studies support the notion that today’s consumers like mail. Even Gen Z, notoriously saturated in digital media, loves the special feeling of receiving personally addressed print. Meanwhile, Millennials likewise prefer print ads; they find them more reliable and take the time to read them.

These findings are significant in the age of digital fatigue, when digital ads are more costly and less effective than ever.


Standing Out in the Mailbox with Color

Specialty colors and textures can deepen that connection between print and consumer, turning it into one between brand and consumer. Chris Javate, a Creative Design Director in New York City, says that color is “a detail that makes a world of difference when it comes to branding.”

What’s more, specialty colors qualify for special USPS promotions, making them a good deal. The USPS’s Tactile, Sensory and Interactive (TSI) promotion offers marketers who use specialty inks and textures a 4% mail discount.

Here are some options for embellishing your direct mail with systems such as Ricoh’s 5th Color Station:

  • Spot colors: Think neon. Neon Pink, Neon Yellow and their blends turn heads and create memorable impressions.
  • Metallics: Pricey foiling and embossing are becoming a thing of the past. Gold, Silver, Bronze and many more tints and hues are more accessible than ever with metallic toners and White toner on metallic substrates.
  • White ink: Opaque White effective process color printing on colored papers is opening up creative design opportunities. Imagine a dramatic White-on-Black design to liven up the mail.
  • Texture: Applying layers of variable thickness can create dimensional effects that simulate embossing
  • Spot or flood coating: Sheer toner enriches the experience of print with a sensory appeal and a lustrous gleam. Clear ink embellishments capture the attention and the imagination, and they are also an important means of connecting the physical to the electronic world via codes or web addresses like personalized URLs.


What Brands Value

A 2019 SGIA/NAPCO Research study called “Adding Value to Digital Printing” set out to explore the benefits of print enhancements. In it, marketers and brand owners revealed, in order, what they liked most about embellishments for applications like direct mail:

1. Giving the brand a premium look

2. Capturing the attention of recipients

3. Helping campaigns stand out from the competition

4. Enhancing the brand or corporate image

Print enhancements certainly add costs to a campaign (offset by applicable TSI promotions) — but they also add significant value. By drawing on the impressive capabilities of digital print, direct mailers can open exciting new possibilities to grab market attention.


5 Ways to Make Your Direct Mail Effective

Aside from specialty color, what else can you do to make the most of consumers’ interest in mail? Here are 5 guidelines to keep in mind.

1. Keep messages and offers simple. We are hardwired to expend the least amount of effort. Using clear language and short sentences will ensure marketing messages are read and understood. Avoid overload. The brain cannot process too many messages or images at the same time. Make sure that you leave white space and use concise copy so that the brain can easily process your message.

2. Make it memorable and interesting. If the piece doesn’t grab the recipient’s attention, it’s going into the paper recycling bin. Because the brain likes puzzles, humor and emotional engagement, consider using these elements in direct mail. Another reliable method for capturing attention is storytelling — people remember stories.

3. Know your audience. Create special offers for customers based on past purchase history. Suggest new items they would like to build loyalty. Digital printing’s ability to print variable text and images supports the production of personalized and versioned direct mail offers.

4. Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself. Repeating a phrase, product or brand name throughout marketing copy increases the probability of the message sticking. Likewise, repeated exposure to the same (or slightly different) message gradually increases likeability over time.

5. Demonstrate credibility. People crave evidence when making decisions. Direct mail offers that include statistics and testimonials tend to have more success. Keep in mind that, while statistical evidence can be a credibility builder, it should also illustrate a relationship. People will remember the relationship rather than the actual number. Context makes statistics and testimonials persuasive.


Discover How to Stand Out in the Mailbox

Ready to see how using digitally printed neon colors can make your work stand out? Enter to win 1 of 100 copies of Ricoh’s Neon Pink Color Gamut Chart right now! Hurry, this contest ends April 21st! (United States entries only, please.) [THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED]



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