Direct Mail: Reach Out and Touch

Direct mail can take advantage of one aspect that no digital channel can ever use — touch. As human beings, our brains are hard-wired with the need for touch. It plays a huge role in our everyday lives. When we are able to harness the power of touch with direct mail, we are able to create an experience that recipients will not forget and may even share with others.

direct mail postalDirect mail can take advantage of one aspect that no digital channel can ever use — touch. As human beings, our brains are hard-wired with the need for touch. It plays a huge role in our everyday lives. When we are able to harness the power of touch with direct mail, we are able to create an experience that recipients will not forget and may even share with others.

Our hands are very sensitive and designed to touch. They have the greatest density of tactile receptors on our bodies. Let’s take advantage of that with our direct mail pieces. Touching the mail piece is required as one gets the mail from the mail box and sorts through the mail. Grab attention immediately with a unique feel.

Consider using these five elements in your direct mail to enhance touch.

1. Paper Stock
Instead of choosing your paper stock by what is on sale or the cheapest one, consider choosing a heavier nicer feeling stock. The lasting impression you give to recipients will help them not only to remember you better, but trust you as well.

2. Coatings
Now, there are many coating choices. Consider how each one could work with your design and pick the best fit. One that is really popular right now is a soft touch coating. When you are able to match the feel of the piece with the message, you have a greater impact on the recipient.

3. Emboss/Deboss
Consider how you can incorporate an emboss or a deboss into your design to add a more 3D look and feel. What could you emboss or deboss that would draw attention?

4. Engraving
This not only adds beauty — it really enhances the feel. Think of all the ways a design can include engraving. You could outline key points or draw attention to parts of images that help to showcase your product or service.

5. Raised Ink
This can be a fun way to add a dimension and appeal to the touch need. You can do it for lettering and images. Get creative!

Adding touchable elements to your direct mail not only enhances the recipient’s experience, but it can drive their decision to buy from you. People make subconscious reactions and decisions all of the time based on what they touch. We can therefore influence people in our direct mail through touch. For instance, when you use a thicker paper stock and a soft touch coating, your product or service is viewed as trustworthy and your company as knowledgeable. Think of how you can influence with touch knowing that what we touch shapes what we feel and perceive.

The crucial point is to add touch elements so they enhance your direct mail, not draw attention away from your message. The elements should work with your message to give it more power. If you just add elements without planning on how they work together with your design and messaging, you are wasting your money and confusing recipients. This will have the exact opposite effect on your ROI than what you are aiming for.

When you have put together your plan, meet with a couple of your top customers to show them your idea. See what they think and if they understand it the way you intended them to. Make sure to get their opinions before you explain what you were trying to do. You want to see if your recipients will get the right message because you won’t be there to explain it to them.

Try to exploit the sense of touch in your next direct mail campaign.

Stand Out With Texture

How can you get your direct mail to stand out in the mailbox? Have you considered using texture? Coatings do more than just protect the print from scratching damage in the mail. They can capture interest for your direct mail piece. With all the different types of coating available, you can now choose one that really emphasizes touch. By creating a unique textured feel, your response rate will increase. Think of all the different ways you can add texture to your piece to grab attention to it.

How can you get your direct mail to stand out in the mailbox? Have you considered using texture? Coatings do more than just protect the print from scratching damage in the mail. They can capture interest for your direct mail piece. With all the different types of coating available, you can now choose one that really emphasizes touch. By creating a unique textured feel, your response rate will increase. Think of all the different ways you can add texture to your piece to grab attention to it.

Some fun coatings for you to consider:

  • MiraFoil: Create metallic effects in a precise fashion.
  • Raised: Gives the embossed look without actual embossing.
  • Pearlescent: Gives an elegant shimmer look.
  • Sandpaper: Gives a rough sand paper like feel.
  • Soft touch: Creates a velvet texture for a nice soft feel.
  • Glitter: A large glitter flake that is available in a variety of colors.
  • Metal Flake: Fine metal flakes similar to car paint.
  • Thermochronic: Temperature activated, changes color when heated.
  • Photochromic: This coating is activated by sunlight to change color.
  • Glow in the dark: This is a high gloss coating that will glow in the dark.
  • Scratch off: Available in gold or silver provides a non-see thru coat

Now that you have selected your coating, imagine how creative you can get with your design. You want to have the feel of bricks? No problem. 3D raised steps? No problem. It’s like the old “Pat the Bunny” books: You can have so many textures at your fingertips to choose from. It is not advised to go crazy and put several on one mailer, but you can mix a couple to really get a pop. Show your recipients how your product or service feels; grab that sensory emotion to increase response.

The standard coatings are:

  • Varnish: This is basically like a colorless ink and can be applied in gloss, dull or satin forms as the piece is printed. This is not environmentally friendly.
  • Aqueous: A water based coating applied as the piece is printed. It protects better than varnish and is more environmentally friendly.
  • UV: This provides superior protection and comes in glossy or dull.
  • Laminates: This is best for protection from water as it seals in the paper. This is not usually needed for direct mail pieces.

With any of the above coatings, it is a good idea to check with your mail service provider to make sure they can inkjet over the coating. You do have a couple of choices if the coating is not inkjet compatible. You can knockout the mail panel when coating to leave it unfinished for inkjet. Or you can use and envelope/poly bag as a cover. Just one more thing to consider is that a paper envelope can be inkjeted, but a poly bag will require labels. Make sure to consider all your options and costs before proceeding.

Direct mail is about engagement, pulling the recipient into your marketing by creating interest in your mailer. The more interesting it is, the better response you are going to get. You will also find that when you create a direct mailer that people really enjoy, they show it to others. The more people who see your mailer, talk about it and share it, the better your response will be. Sensory input leaves a lasting impression on the recipient. If you want to add another layer of input, check out our blog post on adding scent to mailers. A good combination of texture and scent can knock your ROI out of the park!