Navigating the Digital Era: Reimagining Direct Mail

INTRODUCTION

Direct mail cuts through digital fatigue by offering a tangible experience that stands out amidst the overwhelming influx of messages. According to Compu-Mail.com, the average American household receives two direct mail pieces daily, while emails can flood in by the dozen. Due to their comparative scarcity, approximately 77% of Americans eagerly anticipate opening direct mail. Despite the prevalence of digital communication, the percentage of physical mail read today remains surprisingly high. Numerous statistics and studies have consistently demonstrated that direct mail continues to be an effective marketing tool that stands out in a tech-forward world.

Key Topics

1. How can you Leverage Technology to Enhance Direct Mail Campaigns?

2. Why is it important to Personalize and Target Direct Mail?

3. Why is it Important to Keep Data up to Date?

4. Why do Personalized Mail pieces Stand out?

Mail engagement data 1987 2019 2020 2021

Source: USPS Household Diary Study 2021

group working session laptops

1. How can you Leverage Technology to Enhance Direct Mail Campaigns?

Employee Direct mail is one of the oldest forms of communication still around today, recent developments allow the incorporation of digital elements into mail pieces. Leveraging technology has become increasingly vital in enhancing direct mail campaigns. By integrating interactive experiences into traditional mail, marketers are able to captivate their audience in new and exciting ways. One effective method is the utilization of QR codes, which help bridge the gap between physical and digital realms. These codes provide a convenient and instant connection for users, allowing them to access content, exclusive offers, or website URLs with just a simple scan. The scans can be tracked by the marketer to gauge real time success of the campaign. By integrating QR codes into mail pieces, brands can deliver a seamless and cohesive experience that engages recipients and enhances their overall interaction with the marketing material.

busy crosswalk people walking

2. Why is it important to Personalize and Target Direct Mail?

Data-driven segmentation is a powerful strategy that enables businesses to effectively target their audience with tailored messaging. By leveraging customer data and insights, companies can divide their customer base into smaller, more specific groups. These segments can be based on various factors such as demographics, preferences, purchase history, or behavior patterns. By understanding the unique characteristics and needs of each segment, businesses can create segmented direct mail campaigns that speak directly to the interests and motivations of their recipients.

Postalgia specializes in Variable Data Printing (VDP). This advanced technology allows for the customization of individual elements within a direct mail piece. For example, names, addresses, or offers can be personalized to each recipient. This level of customization creates a highly personalized and targeted experience for the recipient, making them feel valued and understood. By incorporating VDP into their direct mail campaigns, businesses can increase the relevance and impact of their messages, ultimately driving higher engagement and response rates.

The beauty of data-driven segmentation and VDP is that they work together seamlessly. By combining the insights gained from segmenting their audience with the customization capabilities of VDP, businesses can create direct mail pieces that deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. Whether it’s addressing recipients by name, showcasing products or offers that align with their preferences, the level of personalization achieved enhances the overall effectiveness of the direct mail campaign.

personalized data

3. Why is it Important to Keep Data up to Date?

To ensure the success of data-driven marketing campaigns, it is crucial for businesses to regularly refresh and clean their data. Outdated or inaccurate information can lead to ineffective targeting and personalization, diminishing the impact of direct mail efforts. By conducting regular data audits and utilizing tools that automate the data cleansing process, businesses can maintain a clean and reliable database, improving the quality of their direct mail campaigns.

In addition to data cleansing, it is essential to continuously collect and analyze new data to gain fresh insights into customer behavior and preferences. By leveraging tools and technologies that capture and analyze customer data, businesses can stay up-to-date with evolving customer needs and preferences. Incorporating real-time data sources, such as website analytics or CRM systems, enables businesses to gather valuable information on customer interactions and transactions.

To keep customer data accurate and up-to-date, it is important to actively engage customers in the data collection process. Businesses can encourage customers to provide updated information by offering opt-in forms or account profiles. By rewarding incentives or benefits for customers who update their information, businesses can incentivize customers to share accurate and relevant data. This approach not only helps in maintaining a clean and updated customer database but also fosters a sense of transparency and trust between the business and its customers.

Using automated data integration processes is crucial for syncing data across different systems. By integrating data from various sources, such as CRM systems, e-commerce platforms, or social media channels, businesses can have a holistic view of customer information. This integrated data enables businesses to create comprehensive customer profiles and ensures consistency across different touchpoints. Automation streamlines the data integration process, reducing manual errors and enabling businesses to deliver cohesive and personalized direct mail campaigns.

handwriting a note

4. Why do Personalized Mail pieces Stand out?

Direct mail has a unique ability to make mail pieces more relevant and meaningful, leading to higher response rates and establishing an emotional connection with recipients. According to the article “Direct Marketing Statistics for 2022” by  Compu-Mail.com, the response rate to direct mail can reach as high as 37%. One of the reasons for this is that people perceive a physical piece of mail as more “real” compared to the digital ones that flood their inboxes. The tangible nature of direct mail captures attention and engages multiple senses, creating a memorable and impactful experience for recipients.

Direct mail has been shown to generate higher response rates compared to other marketing channels. In the data mentioned above by  Compu-Mail.com, mail pieces have an open rate of 90% (in contrast to the average email open rate of 23%), direct mail ensures that the message reaches the intended recipient. This high open rate provides an opportunity for businesses to make a strong impression and convey their message effectively. Direct mail marketing allows for customization and personalization, such as incorporating handwritten elements. Handwritten elements, such as handwritten addresses or notes, add a personal touch that makes recipients feel valued and appreciated. This attention to detail significantly increases the chances of the mail being opened and read.

Beyond higher response rates, direct mail also enhances the perception of a brand as customer-centric. By investing in physical mail pieces that are tailored to the recipient’s preferences and needs, businesses demonstrate a commitment to delivering personalized experiences. This customer-centric approach fosters a positive perception of the brand and strengthens the emotional connection between the business and its customers.

CONCLUSION

In the ever-evolving landscape of marketing, where technology and data reign supreme, direct mail stands as a timeless reminder of the power of human connection. It is a tangible testament to the impact that a carefully crafted message can have on an individual. Leveraging technology and personalization techniques has become crucial for enhancing the effectiveness of direct mail campaigns. By incorporating digital elements like QR codes, marketers can create interactive experiences that bridge the gap between physical and digital realms, engaging recipients in new and exciting ways. Data-driven segmentation and Variable Data Printing (VDP) enable businesses to target their audience with tailored messaging, creating highly personalized and impactful mail pieces. Regular data maintenance and collection ensure accuracy and relevance, while automated integration processes streamline data management. Personalized mail pieces that stand out from digital clutter generate higher response rates and establish emotional connections with recipients. By investing in customer-centric direct mail, businesses strengthen their brand perception and foster stronger relationships with their customers. With the right combination of technology, personalization, and data-driven strategies, your campaigns can achieve enhanced effectiveness and drive successful outcomes.

Postalgia is a forward thinking, full range mail service provider. We employ the latest printing technology to turn your campaign vision into reality. We make the process as easy as possible for you by designing your pieces to include QR codes, implement variable data printing, cleaning up your data, and we specialize in handwritten direct mail, proven to increase open rates and goodwill maximizing the effectiveness of current and future campaigns. Reach out today to create mail that gets opened and makes an impact.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

How Fundraisers Are Tripling Their Campaign Performance

 

INTRODUCTION

Are you ready to revolutionize your fundraising efforts? Discover the power of donor segmentation, personalized messaging, and captivating storytelling to unlock unparalleled success in your campaigns. Engage donors, maximize impact, and foster long-term relationships for your organization. In fact, a recent direct mail handwritten fundraising campaign we did for NYU “beat the control 3 to 1.” And yet another recent campaign done for Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston found that “donors who received a personal note gave nearly 29% more than those who did not!” CJP also confirmed that response rate was 8% higher using our product vs the average median response rate of only 4%. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to amplify your campaign reach and maximize your impact!

A/B Test results

Key Topics

1. How do you Personalize Targeted Direct Mail Campaigns?

2. How to Effectively Employ Storytelling in Mail Campaigns?

3. How can Mail Piece Design Improve Campaign Performance?

4. How to Increase Effectiveness of Omni-Channel Direct Mail Campaigns?

5. How to Follow-up a Direct Mail Campaign?

Triple Campaign Performance with Handwritten Mail and Stewardship

1. How do you Personalize Targeted Direct Mail Campaigns?

At Postalgia, we recognize that donor segmentation is the key to successful fundraising campaigns. By tailoring your messages to resonate with each demographic, you can create a deep and meaningful connection with your supporters. Every communication should make your donors feel valued and appreciated. That’s why it is important to incorporate donor-specific information into your handwritten letters. Whether it’s mentioning a previous donation, acknowledging their specific interests, or simply using their name, a personalized approach creates a powerful bond between your organization and its supporters.

It is important to align donation requests with donor preferences and giving capacity. Ensure your team crafts customized donation appeals that are not only compelling but also considerate of each donor’s unique circumstances. Analyze your donors giving histories and patterns to ensure that your requests are tailored to maximize engagement and increase the likelihood of a positive response.

REMEMBER THE YOUNG DONORS!

Developing effective follow-up strategies is crucial when cultivating and maintaining relationships with donors, especially when targeting younger demographics. It is vital not to overlook the potential of younger donors and actively engage them in philanthropic efforts. Encouraging smaller donations and active participation in campaigns, while also providing volunteer opportunities, creates a sense of ownership and pride in their contributions! Incorporating digital elements such as QR codes, online giving portals, and having a social media presence, can make it convenient and accessible for younger donors to contribute and engage with your cause. These strategies enable fundraisers to build lasting connections with younger supporters, ensuring their long-term involvement in fundraising efforts.
young man telling a story

2. How to Effectively Employ Storytelling in Mail Campaigns?

One powerful approach is to create an emotional connection by sharing genuine stories  that evoke emotions and resonate with donors. By sharing narratives that tug at heartstrings, you can create a sense of empathy and inspire action. Whether it’s through personal testimonials, heartfelt anecdotes, or compelling case studies, these stories should showcase the impact of the cause in a way that resonates with donors’ values and experiences.

When it comes to effective communication, authenticity and transparency are paramount. Fundraisers should share real-life experiences and factual information to demonstrate their commitment to transparency. By providing donors with clear and honest insights into the organization’s work, fundraisers can establish credibility and foster trust. Donors want to know that their contributions are making a difference, so it is crucial to communicate the real impact of their support. Presenting clear goals and outcomes is crucial for fundraisers to engage donors effectively. Sharing measurable objectives and progress toward those goals allows donors to understand the tangible difference their contributions can make. When donors see the direct connection between their support and the outcomes they care about, they are more motivated to invest in the cause.

Including personal anecdotes in storytelling helps fundraisers create relatable connections with donors. By sharing stories of individuals connected to the cause, whether they are beneficiaries, volunteers, or donors themselves, fundraisers can humanize the impact of their work. These relatable stories bring the cause to life and allow donors to connect on a deeper level. When donors can see the real faces and experiences behind the statistics, they are more likely to feel a personal attachment to the cause and be inspired to contribute.

Fundraisers should actively seek feedback from donors and share donor stories and testimonials. By inviting donors to share their experiences and perspectives, fundraisers show that their opinions matter. Sharing donor testimonials not only provides social proof but also allows donors to become advocates for the cause. These stories and feedback strengthen the relationship between fundraisers and supporters, fostering a sense of community and shared commitment.

designing a mail piece

3. How can Mail Piece Design Improve Campaign Performance?

When it comes to mail-piece design, fundraisers have the opportunity to create impactful and compelling materials that resonate with donors. To capture your audience’s attention, it is crucial to incorporate visuals that stand out. Whether it’s vibrant colors, striking images, or unique illustrations, the design should immediately catch the eye and pique the recipient’s curiosity. Creating visually captivating designs, increases the chance of mail pieces that get opened and read.

Pairing attention-grabbing visuals with compelling headlines is a winning combination. The headline should be engaging and thought-provoking, motivating the recipient to delve further into the mail piece. It should create intrigue and clearly communicate the purpose of the campaign.

Clear and concise messaging is essential to ensure that the campaign’s purpose and call to action are communicated effectively. Fundraisers should aim to convey the core message in a concise manner, using straightforward and impactful language. By clearly articulating the purpose, fundraisers can ensure that recipients understand the campaign’s mission and know how they can contribute.

Maintaining a consistent visual identity throughout your mail-piece is important for brand recognition and cohesion. Fundraisers should incorporate consistent branding elements such as colors, fonts, and logos in their mail piece designs. Consistency creates a sense of professionalism and trust, reinforcing the organization’s identity and making it easily recognizable to donors.

To make the campaign stand out, fundraisers should incorporate unique design elements that differentiate their mail pieces from others. Creativity and innovation can leave a lasting impression. Whether it’s using unconventional layouts, interactive elements, or incorporating unexpected materials, unique design elements can make the campaign memorable and increase donor engagement.

Visual hierarchy plays a crucial role in guiding the recipient’s attention to key information. Always consider design principles such as size, color, and placement to emphasize the most important messages and calls to action. By creating a clear visual hierarchy, fundraisers ensure that recipients can easily grasp the main points of the mail piece and understand the desired actions.

Readability is essential for effective mail-piece design. Always ensure that the design is easy to read and understand at a glance. Using legible fonts, appropriate font sizes, and clear formatting will enhance readability. By making the content easily accessible, fundraisers increase the likelihood of recipients engaging with the mail piece and taking action.
Discover the power of donor segmentation, personalized messaging, and captivating storytelling to unlock unparalleled success in your campaigns.

typing on laptop

4. How to Increase Effectiveness of Omni-Channel Direct Mail Campaigns?

It is essential to embrace technological advancements rather than resist them. We believe that integrating digital components into your mail pieces can revolutionize your fundraising efforts. By incorporating digital elements into your direct mail, such as scannable QR codes, it provides seamless access to online platforms and makes engagement effortless.

One key aspect of omni-channel campaigns is data integration. Fundraisers can synchronize data from direct mail and digital channels to gain a comprehensive view of donor engagement. By leveraging the data collected from multiple channels, fundraisers can gain valuable insights into donor preferences, behaviours, and interactions. This data-driven approach enables fundraisers to tailor their messaging and strategies more effectively.

Personalized follow-ups are another significant benefit of omni-channel direct mail campaigns. With digital channels, fundraisers can deliver personalized messages based on donor actions. By tracking donor engagements, fundraisers can segment their donors and send targeted follow-up messages that resonate with individual interests and motivations. This personalization enhances the donor experience and strengthens the relationship between organization and donor.

Incorporating scannable QR codes in direct mail pieces is a valuable technique in omni-channel campaigns. QR codes provide a convenient and quick way for donors to access online platforms. By scanning the code with their smartphones, donors can be directed to dedicated landing pages, online donation forms, or specific campaign websites. This integration of offline and online channels simplifies the donor’s journey and encourages them to engage further with the cause.

Handwritten Thank You Card Yellow

5. How to Follow-up a Direct Mail Campaign?

Follow-up strategies are crucial for fundraisers to maintain and strengthen relationships with their donors. Expressing gratitude is a fundamental aspect of effective follow-up. Personalized thank-you letters should be sent to donors, acknowledging their contributions and expressing sincere appreciation for their support. By personalizing these letters, fundraisers can demonstrate the individual impact of each donor’s generosity, making them feel valued and recognized.

In addition to personalized thank-you letters, regular newsletters serve as a valuable tool for keeping donors informed about the campaign’s achievements and future plans. These newsletters can highlight the tangible outcomes made possible by donors’ contributions, reinforcing the value of their support. Sharing impact reports further enhances this effect, providing concrete evidence of how donors’ contributions have made a difference in the lives of those benefiting from the cause. By demonstrating the direct impact of their support, fundraisers can reinforce the donors’ connection to the organization and inspire them to continue their involvement.

To foster ongoing engagement, fundraisers can provide exclusive updates or behind-the-scenes content to donors. This approach makes donors feel like valued members of the organization’s community, keeping them engaged and invested in the cause. Hosting special events exclusively for supporters offers a unique opportunity to deepen their connection to the cause. These events can provide a platform for members to interact with the organization’s team and beneficiaries directly, strengthening their emotional connection and encouraging ongoing support.

Collecting feedback from donors through surveys is invaluable for understanding their preferences, improving the donor experience, and enhancing future campaigns. These surveys provide an opportunity for donors to share their thoughts and suggestions, ensuring that their voices are heard and their needs are met. By actively seeking and implementing donor feedback, fundraisers can strengthen relationships and create a donor-centric approach to their work.

 

CONCLUSION

Successful fundraising campaigns require a targeted and personalized approach that resonates with donors. Compelling storytelling, authenticity, and clear goals are key elements in effective communication. When it comes to mail piece design, attention-grabbing visuals, compelling headlines, and clear messaging make a lasting impact. Omni-channel direct mail campaigns, incorporating digital components and data integration, enhance donor engagement. Follow-up strategies, including gratitude, regular newsletters, exclusive updates, events, and donor feedback, strengthen relationships and foster ongoing engagement. By embracing these strategies, fundraisers can drive meaningful impact and cultivate lasting connections with their supporters.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

How DTC Brands are Using Handwritten Letters to Increase Customer Lifetime Value

Key Topics

1. Why are Handwritten Letters Effective with Customers?

2. Can Handwritten Letters Earn Reviews?

3. How can Handwritten Letters Encourage Customers to Make a Second Purchase?

4. How do DTC Brands Write Effective Handwritten Pieces?

INTRODUCTION

Straightforward ways to increase Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is to decrease the cost of acquiring customers or increase the cart value with add ons.  While costs have been increasing across the board for DTC brands, a more effective way is to turn one time customers into repeat customers. The key is ultimately great customer experience and providing customers with a reason to return time after time. One such way of improving the customer experience and converting a one time customer into a lifelong customer is to show appreciation through customer stewardship like thank you notes or personalized loyalty discounts. These stewardship campaigns can leave a lasting impression on your customers ensuring your brand is top of mind during the next shopping session. According to the Generational Research Report (2020-2021), 71% of consumers feel that direct mail adds a more personalized touch to communication compared to online digital methods. In a digital era where communication has become synonymous with quick and impersonal exchanges, there is a powerful tool that can set your brand apart and forge deeper connections with your customers: handwritten letters. In this blog post, we will explore the unique power of handwritten notes and how they can leave a lasting impression on your customers. From expressing gratitude and appreciation to cultivating loyalty and driving repeat sales, handwritten letters offer a personal touch that digital communication often fails to achieve. So if you want to make a lasting impression on your customers, put down the keyboard and pick up a pen. Or better yet, we’ll pick up the pen for you!

How Handwritten Letters are creating lifelong customers

1. Why are Handwritten Letters Effective with Customers?

The rarity of receiving handwritten letters has become a notable phenomenon. Amidst the abundance of emails, text messages, and digital communication platforms, a handwritten letter has become a cherished relic. Handwritten pieces possess a unique power to develop emotional connections with customers, leaving a lasting impression that digital communication often fails to achieve.

The act of handwriting itself exudes effort and thoughtfulness, showcasing a level of care that resonates with recipients. When a customer receives a handwritten letter, they can immediately sense the sincerity and authenticity behind it. This tangible expression of effort stands out, allowing companies to differentiate themselves in the eyes of their customers.

Moreover, the rarity of handwritten letters enhances their impact. With inboxes flooded and notifications pinging constantly, the world is experiencing a digital fatigue. In contrast, a handwritten letter holds a higher chance of being opened and read, captivating the recipient’s attention in a way that digital messages struggle to achieve nowadays.

Beyond practicality, handwritten letters tap into a sense of nostalgia, evoking a bygone era when communication was more personal and meaningful. By receiving a handwritten letter, customers are transported back to a time when people made the effort to craft their words by hand. This nostalgic element adds a layer of sentimentality, fostering a deeper bond between the company and its customers.

Pleased customer at computer

2. Can Handwritten Letters Earn Reviews?

Product reviews are a key driver to increased sales. They demonstrate social proof while increasing purchase confidence. Getting existing customers to write genuine reviews is one of the most valuable goals a DTC brand can set. To codify this in the company’s mission setting review percentage as a KPI is recommended. One very effective way to get a customer to take the time to write a review is to send them a handwritten letter. The time it takes to write a handwritten letter conveys that the ask for their time was done in the spirit of reciprocity.

Within the letter, specifically express your appreciation for their recent purchase, highlighting how it has made a positive impact. Emphasize that their support is vital to the growth and success of your business. Share a brief anecdote or mention specific details that demonstrate your attention to their needs and satisfaction. This personalized approach shows that you genuinely care about their experience and encourages them to reciprocate by leaving a review to continue to support your brand.

By reaching out to customers with a personalized message, you not only enhance the chances of receiving a positive review but also encourage repeat sales as customers feel valued and connected to your business. Embrace the beauty of handwritten letters and watch as they strengthen your customer relationships and drive your business forward.

money

3. How can Handwritten Letters Encourage Customers to Make a Second Purchase?

In today’s dynamic business landscape, cultivating customer loyalty is paramount to DTC brand’s success. A handwritten letter allows you to go beyond a simple “thank you” email and provides an opportunity to convey a heartfelt message. By recognizing the customer’s patronage and acknowledging their role as a loyal client, you strengthen the bond between them and your brand.

To further enhance the customer’s experience, consider offering a personalized discount code for their next purchase. By tailoring the offer to their specific preferences or past buying behaviors, you demonstrate that you genuinely care about their needs. You can also suggest complementary products or services that they may find appealing. By sharing these exclusive details, you create a sense of exclusivity and make the customer feel like a valued insider, increasing the likelihood of them making a repeat purchase.

 A notion to keep in mind when personalizing your outreach is to stay behind the “creepy-line”. You want to use your customer’s data as a guide in your campaigns that target your customer’s general interests. The goal is to recommend products/services that could be of interest to your clients and avoid invading their privacy.

 

4. How do DTC Brands Write Effective Handwritten Pieces?

When it comes to handwritten letters, personalization is key to making a lasting impact on your customers. By including specific details about the customer or their purchase, you demonstrate that the letter was crafted just for them. In this section, we’ll explore how to create a personalized and engaging handwritten letter that conveys warmth and gratitude.

Keep the letter brief and to the point, while still infusing it with language that is inviting and appreciative. Customers respond well to a genuine and concise message that acknowledges their importance to your business. By using a friendly and conversational tone, you create a welcoming atmosphere that sets the stage for a positive customer experience.

Addressing the customer by name is crucial in establishing a personal connection. Reference their previous purchase or interaction with the company to show that you remember and appreciate their support.

 

For example

 “Dear [Customer’s Name], we wanted to extend our sincerest thanks for your recent purchase of [Product/Service].”

 

Customize your handwritten notes using a CRM that stores and organizes your customers’ data.

To add that extra personal touch, include specific details that relate directly to the customer. Mention how their purchase has made a positive impact in the growth of your company or how their feedback has helped shape your products or services. This attention to detail shows that you genuinely value their contribution and makes the letter feel truly personalized.

In terms of presentation, prioritize legibility by using clear handwriting and properly spacing out the text. You can use this contrast checker to ensure that your colors, fonts, and font sizes are accessible. A well-structured and easy-to-read letter enhances the customer’s reading experience and ensures your message comes across clearly. Avoid grammatical errors or spelling mistakes, as they can detract from the professional image you seek to uphold.

Instead of relying on digital signatures or stamps, take the time to personally sign each letter, or better yet, let us handle that for you and pen your actual signature on your handwritten pieces. This small act goes a long way in adding an extra touch of authenticity and personalization. Your signature serves as a visual reminder that a real person took the time to connect with the customer, fostering a sense of trust and appreciation.

Be mindful of timing. Aim to send the letter within a few days of the customer’s purchase or interaction with the company. Promptness demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction and keeps your brand top of mind.

 

Tips

  • Use a genuine and concise message with a friendly and conversational tone to acknowledge the importance of customers to your business
  • Establish a personal connection by addressing customers by name and referencing their previous purchase or interaction (without crossing the creepy-line)
  • Prioritize legibility and presentation by using clear handwriting, proper spacing, and ensuring accessible colors and fonts
  • Speed and timing is key when sending a gratitude letter
  • Add an element of authenticity to your pieces to make them stand out and be remembered.

 

CONCLUSION

The power of handwritten letters lies in their ability to forge deeper emotional connections with customers, standing out amidst the digital communication overload. The act of handwriting itself showcases care and thoughtfulness, instantly conveying sincerity and authenticity. Handwritten letters tap into a sense of nostalgia, transporting recipients to a time when communication was more personal and meaningful. This personal touch not only strengthens the customer relationship but also nurtures consistency and trust. By expressing genuine gratitude, acknowledging their individuality, and offering personalized discounts or suggestions, handwritten letters become a vehicle for driving customer engagement and repeat sales. Balancing personalization with respect for privacy ensures a positive and respectful customer experience. Let’s pick up our pens and create heartfelt connections that leave a lasting impression, reminding customers of the genuine care and appreciation we hold for each and every one of them.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

5 Reasons Why Handwritten Notes Are Powerful

 

Key Topics

1. What Makes Handwritten Letters Intimate and Reflective?

2. You Can’t Delete Handwritten Notes

3. Why Are Handwritten Notes More Authentic?

4. Why Does a Hand-Addressed Letter Stand Out?

5. Handwritten Letters Showcases the Professionalism of your Organization

INTRODUCTION

Technology has become ubiquitous in our daily lives, with people sending hundreds of instant messages and corporate emails per day. PostGrid wrote an article titled “Direct Mail Statistics You Need to Know” and stated that, direct mail is a marketing channel that many marketers were hesitant to invest in, as they believed it would not yield the desired response rate. However, according to a study published in DMA Response Rate 2018, household mail had a significantly higher response rate at 9% compared to email, paid search, and social media, which were only at 1%. Digital communication is often devalued and quickly forgotten due to the overwhelming amount of messages that constantly flood our inboxes daily. Despite the world’s increasing paperless practices, there are still situations where a handwritten note can be more effective when communicating with donors or clients.

 

1. What Makes Handwritten Letters Intimate and Reflective?

In this digital age, emails and texts have become the primary means of communication. They are quick and convenient, but often lack a personal touch. In contrast, a handwritten note conveys a sense of thoughtfulness and care that cannot be replicated by a digital message. When you take the time to put pen to paper, it shows that you value the recipient and the relationship you share. Whether it’s a thank-you note or a message of encouragement, a handwritten note can leave a lasting impression. While it may require more effort and resources, the appreciation received in return can be immeasurable. Next time you want to express your gratitude or show someone you care, consider putting your thoughts into a handwritten note.

 

2. You Can’t Delete Handwritten Notes

One of the biggest advantages of a handwritten message is its permanence. Unlike an email or text message that can be deleted, a handwritten message can be kept as a cherished memento for years to come. It is something tangible that the recipient can hold onto and remember the sender by. Handwritten messages are also more engaging and easier to read than electronic messages. With electronic messages, it is common to skim over the content quickly, whereas with a handwritten message, the recipient is more likely to read it thoroughly. Handwritten notes don’t get sent to spam, quite the opposite, they’re opened first.

A handwritten follow-up letter sets you apart from competitors who may only send a generic email and can make a huge impact on clients and donors. While it may take more effort to write a handwritten letter than to send a quick email, the personal and intimate touch of a handwritten message can have a greater impact. It shows that you are willing to go the extra mile to make a connection, which can help build a stronger relationship in the long run.

 

3. Why Are Handwritten Notes More Authentic?

We have a multitude of digital options to convey our feelings and emotions, ranging from text messages, emails, to social media messages. While these options are convenient and instantaneous, they often lack the personal touch and sincerity that comes with a handwritten note. Handwritten pieces are a timeless way of expressing gratitude and appreciation that will never go out of style.

Digital messages can often come across as insincere or impersonal due to the sender’s ability to revise the message until it’s just right. This ability to edit can make them feel fake and inauthentic, as if they were written with the intention of pleasing the recipient rather than expressing genuine gratitude. Unlike digital messages, handwritten notes are a true representation of the writer’s genuine feelings and intentions. They are often written in one sitting, making them more authentic and heartfelt. The imperfections and mistakes in a handwritten letter only serve to enhance its authenticity and sincerity. Handwritten notes also have a longer-lasting impact compared to digital correspondence, as they can be cherished and kept as a memento for years to come.

 

4. Why Does a Hand-Addressed Letter Stand Out?

The art of handwriting has become somewhat lost. Opportunely, this has also made receiving a handwritten note all the more special. When people receive a piece of handwritten mail, they know that it was curated with care and intention, which makes it all the more memorable. A hand-addressed letter is unlikely to be thrown away because the recipient assumes the sender took the time and care to write it. They also serve as a powerful reminder of the interaction that prompted the thank-you, like a donation or a sale, refreshing the recipient’s memory every time they receive one.

 

5. Handwritten Letters Showcases the Professionalism of your Organization

Handwritten notes have a charm that is unmatched by digital correspondence. In today’s world of emails and instant messages, a handwritten note can make a person stand out and convey a sense of thoughtfulness and consideration. The attention to detail and personal touch that goes into writing by hand is sure to impress the recipient and set you apart from the crowd.

A simple follow-up note or a thank-you note can make a significant impact. It shows that you value your clients’ time and effort and are grateful for their support. Moreover, a handwritten note can also enhance nonprofit stewardship efforts by showing donors that you appreciate their generosity and are committed to making a difference. It keeps them engaged and informed about your organization’s work, thereby encouraging them to continue supporting your cause.

Let Postalgia Write Your Notes For You!

With modern technology, it’s no longer necessary to spend your valuable time writing notes to achieve the same effect. Postalgia’s robots can produce handwritten pieces at scale for organizations of all sizes and budgets. You have the flexibility to customize your messages with your own preferred writing style, and convey your message exactly as you intended. We use ink on paper, as well as a design you provide or a design that you collaborate on with our design team, to ensure that your notes stand out and leave a lasting impression.

It’s as easy as:

Customizing your design
Choosing a handwriting style
Crafting your message

We take care of the rest! Our production team is fast and efficient, we print, write, fold, stamp, and mail out your campaigns. We handle everything for you, allowing you to focus on building your organization!

CONCLUSION

By taking just a few steps, you can make handwritten notes your competitive advantage. Handwritten direct mail has become a powerful tool for personal and thoughtful communication that can leave a lasting impression. Handwritten messages are more engaging, authentic, and tangible than digital messages. They also stand out and can make an organization look more professional. While it may take more effort to write a handwritten note than to send a quick email, the personal and intimate touch of a handwritten message can have a greater impact. In a world where convenience often trumps quality, incorporating more personal and thoughtful communication through handwritten notes can set you apart.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

How to Follow up with Volunteers

INTRODUCTION

Acknowledging your volunteers is just as important as acknowledging your donors, and you can do that by sending out a follow up!

In this article we are going to be looking at why, how, and when to follow up with your volunteers. Volunteers are the powerhouse of the organization! Knowing how to send follow ups and how to make them effective is KEY. Sending out those follow ups as soon as you can will result in a good volunteer experience and increase the likelihood that volunteers will return for more work, and even become donors!

 

WHY FOLLOW UP?

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Following up with your volunteers is important because volunteers are what keeps your nonprofit organization going. Volunteers donate their time and effort for a cause as long as it provides them with the personal satisfaction of doing good for others as well as a positive network of individuals who all care deeply about the cause. It is not only courteous, but necessary to follow up with them to gain valuable feedback about their experience with your nonprofit and give them more opportunities to donate. Follow-ups help volunteers feel in the loop and keep them involved in the work.

Apart from helping with your nonprofit’s mission, volunteers also seek charity work to gain experiences, network, learn new skills, add to their resume, and more. Sending out follow ups to gain feedback is beneficial to your organization and to volunteers. You can then use that feedback to improve your programs and it will increase the likelihood of volunteer’s returning, sending referrals to your organization, and building relationships.

Once you have established good relationships with your volunteers, it could result in them turning into donors down the line!

 

HOW?

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Following up with your volunteers can be as easy as sending an email. The point is to maintain good communication. But it is a good idea to show effort in the way you follow up with them. The way to show effort can be evident in how you follow up and what you say in your follow up.

 

3 Points to Always Include in your Follow Up:

  1. Acknowledgment of Gratitude: saying thank you in a personal way

  2. Progress Made: letting them know how their efforts have helped the cause

  3. Include a Survey: to gain insight of their experience

 

Make sure when you follow up with your volunteers, it reflects that you spent time and effort in contacting them. Volunteers put their time and effort into helping your organization, so you should do the same! Handwritten and personalized notes are an excellent way to show volunteers that their contribution is valuable and recognized. You should make it easy for them to respond back to you by including your email, phone number, or social media information.

 

WHEN?

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A good time to send a follow up is as soon as possible! Try to aim to get those follow ups out within one week of their experience. This is especially important when you want to gain feedback from your volunteers. This is because their experience will still be fresh in their mind. It will also add to their experience to get that extra thank you soon after they spent time volunteering. When you maintain good communication, it builds relationships. Strong relationships with your volunteers will turn into strong donor relationships! It is all about the long game!

 

CONCLUSION

To wrap things up, we covered why, how, and when to follow up with your volunteers. It is important because volunteers are essential to keeping operations running. A follow up can be sending an email to writing a letter, but remember to put in effort so that volunteers feel their work is being reciprocated. The sweet spot of sending out follow ups is within one week or as soon as possible.

GET OUT THOSE FOLLOW UPS!

 

BONUS TIP

Want to know how to increase your average donation amount? Here are 9 easy steps that will tell you just that!

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Authentic Communication with your Donors


Key Topics

1. HOW TO BE TRUE AND CONSISTENT
2. HOW TO ATTEND TO YOUR DONORS
3. HOW TO CREATE PERSONAL EXPERIENCES

 

INTRODUCTION

The nonprofit sector has the fundamental goal of people-helping-people. Consider the powerful motivator that authentic connections bring to this noble cause.

The three key takeaways are simple yet profound: Stay true and consistent, prioritize your donors by showing genuine interest, and craft personal experiences. Enhance your communication methods with personalized and specific details, making a meaningful impact on your donor relationships.

Infographic- nonprofit stewardship: why it's important

1. HOW TO BE TRUE AND CONSISTENT

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All nonprofit organizations have a cause that they are passionate about. Before you communicate with your donors, you need to establish a set of values and beliefs that your organization follows. Make sure when you set up those values, you are being true to yourself and to your cause. To have authentic communication, you need to BE AUTHENTIC.

Once you identify your core principles, you must represent them in every message and any form of communication. You may not be popular with everyone, but at least you will be showing community members that you are true and consistent. The main point is to stick to your set of values and beliefs, but there are more Principles for Authentic Donor Communications that Build Relationships.

 

2. HOW TO ATTEND TO YOUR DONORS

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Make sure to put effort into focusing on your donors. Remember, without your donors you can’t support your cause! Maintain relationships with donors by consistently communicating and creating opportunities to connect with them.

There are various ways to stay connected with your donors and maintain authentic communication. You can schedule regular meetings in person or virtually to provide the opportunity to interact with them. This is the time to have discussions about your organization’s progress and get the opinion of the members. You can ask questions like: Why are you passionate about the cause? What is your preferred method of communication? How would you like to take action?

You can also connect with your donors by sending them information via digital and physical communication methods.

 

WAYS TO CONNECT WITH YOUR DONORS

Social Media
Community Events
Newsletters
Impact Reports
Thank You Notes
Website Blog
Google Forms Questionnaire

 

The main focus should always be on your donors, so you can build authentic relationships.

 

3. HOW TO CREATE PERSONAL EXPERIENCES

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To keep up with authentic communication, you can create personal experiences! How do you do that? Well, make sure to keep donor profiles and use their names when sending emails, newsletters, donation cards, impact reports, and postcards. It is also important to consistently send messages to donors and volunteers to let them know your organization is working hard for the cause.

A little bit of effort goes a long way, especially when you want to create personalized  experiences. Emails and text messages only go so far and are often overlooked, so it is important to seek other forms of communication. Sending handwritten note cards and direct-mail packages addressed to specific donors, tells your members that you value their support.

 

CONCLUSION

To summarize, figure out what your nonprofit is passionate about helping, stick to your values and beliefs, focus on including your donors, and organize personalized experiences that show your donors how much effort you put in.

BONUS TIP

Put the effort in and delight your donors with a handwritten note!

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

7 Most Common Business Thank You Note Mistakes

It’s common knowledge that a thank-you note is an essential part of business etiquette, but believe it or not, there are many ways to do it wrong. As we have written about here and here, there is nothing more effective than a handwritten thank you card when it comes to winning new clients and increasing sales in your business. And in today’s digital age, sending a printed note is even more important.

However, many business owners don’t take advantage of this key business practice to the degree that they should. There are many reasons for this that we will discuss in this article, but today I want to focus on the most common business thank-you note mistakes.

While we are big fans of thank-you notes as a general rule, misunderstandings over proper etiquette and even when to send a card can weaken or even harm customer relationships. To avoid the seven most common thank-you note mistakes, read on.

Not sending the note soon enough

The sooner your company sends a note after any transaction or touchpoint, the more likely it will be read and remembered by the person who received it. It might seem like a small thing, but in today’s busy world where people get hundreds or thousands of emails every day (and forget most of them), this simple step can make all the difference.

If your company is in the habit of sending thank you notes more than 72 hours after every job or transaction, chances are that many recipients will forget who sent it and why. The sooner a personalized note arrives, the higher its impact – especially if they received hundreds of other generic emails, text messages and memes in between.

Sending a generic note without any personalization or connection
We get it. A form letter is easy to replicate and send out. Just print and mail. If that’s all the company is doing with a thank-you note, it may not cut it. Sure, a form letter might work for the first few customers who receive it, but after that, recipients will see it for what it is: an automated gesture to boost your business’s sales without any genuine care or connection behind it.

Instead, make sure your thank-you note is tailored to the individual. Personalization will inspire a response and have recipients seeing your business as an interested party in their lives, not a faceless vendor sending out blank cards for marketing purposes. Include as many details as you can, including the customer’s name, a mention of the product or service and the date of the transaction.

Making The Thank-You Note All About You

The intended purpose of a thank-you note is to make customers feel appreciated, especially if you already provided an exceptional product or level of service. However, what you want to avoid is making them feel like they are getting an advertisement from your business.

That means the focus of the thank-you note should remain squarely on the customer, not on your company. Sure, you should acknowledge the importance of your products and services – indirectly. But a thank-you note is not an opportunity to brag about what makes your company great.

Instead, think of this: if someone did something nice for you (e.g., bought a product or service from you), would you want that person to talk about him or herself the whole time? Probably not. The same is true for thank-you notes: make sure they focus on the customer and their needs, not you.

Going On Too Long

When it comes to thank-you notes, less is more. You want to keep your thank-you note short and sweet – preferably less than 200 words. Long paragraphs and multiple pages are too much, even for a wonderful customer. If you feel that you want to say more than you have room for in your note, that’s okay. Just send a shorter thank-you note and explain that there will be more follow up in the future.

Remember that every touchpoint creates an opportunity to strengthen (or weaken) the impression your customer has of your company – and you. So make sure that every word of your thank-you note is carefully chosen and adds value in some way.

Not Saying Anything Of Value

This is related to the last point. When you are sending a thank-you note, you should still be doing it for a reason. A good thank-you note can communicate a lot in few words. Use this as an opportunity to communicate what is important to you: trust, quality, originality, customer experience or meaning – to name a few areas.

This is an opportunity to express the values you hold dear and the beliefs you stand behind. If you’re not saying anything of value, then your customers probably aren’t getting anything out of reading your notes.

Writing An Email Instead Of A Handwritten Note

I doubt you are surprised that the team behind Postalgia would recommend handwritten notes. But admitted bias aside, there is value to sending your customers a physical, handwritten piece of mail.

There is a sense of appreciation and care that can just come through in the touch, feel and use of an actual thank-you note. It’s tactile. It feels good to receive it. It takes effort to send it. It’s memorable.

While email is generic and unremarkable, handwritten notes are the opposite. So if you have the time and ability to send a thank-you note in person, then your customers will appreciate it. Not only does this show that you care – which is what a thank-you note is all about – but also that you took the time to put effort into their appreciation of your business.

Forgetting to send out thank-you notes altogether

Lastly, one of the big mistakes is not sending out customer thank-you notes at all. This is a big no-no. Your customers deserve to know that their business means something to you.

If it just slips your mind, then make sure you get on top of things as soon as possible, preferably within 72 hours of the customer interaction, as per tip number one. And don’t tell yourself that they “won’t care”. They will.

Instead, think of the thank-you note as an opportunity. With just a few words, you can express gratitude for their business and all the ways it truly matters to you. Be genuine, be brief, and be grateful. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just focus on what’s important: your customers’ happiness.

Wrapping Up

Sending thank-you notes is a powerful tool for deepening your relationship with your customers. But it is important to do it right. By avoiding these seven mistakes, you can help ensure that you get the most out of this important activity.

Of course, the most important step is resolving to include thank-you notes as a key part of your sales process. Are there any other examples of common mistakes that you see small businesses make when writing their thank-you notes? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Six Things to Avoid in a Handwritten Thank You Note

When you receive a handwritten thank-you note from someone, it’s one of the most thoughtful gestures that person could make. It shows that they took time out of their day to write something just for you. The same goes for your clients.

Writing a handwritten thank-you note to clients is a great way to show them how much they mean to your business or organization while creating a deeper personal connection.  Unfortunately, many small business owners often don’t write thank-you notes or cards. Yet studies show that we often underestimate the value of personalized thank-you letters because they aren’t sure where to start or what to include. Our take: it’s a powerful tool you should be using.

If you want to add a personal touch to your business, a handwritten card is a great way to do it.  That being said, there are some things that should be avoided when composing one of these notes. Here are six major pitfalls to avoid when crafting a handwritten thank-you letter.

1. Don’t send a generic thank you

If you decide to send a handwritten note to a client, make sure it’s personalized. Generic messages are impersonal and show that you didn’t take time out of your day to create something for your customer specifically.

It’s easy to personalize a letter if you’re using Contact Relationship Management (CRM) software and even easier with some creativity. Even without using a CRM or spreadsheet program, take time to introduce your customers by name when expressing gratitude for their patronage: they’ll appreciate it! And never forget that spelling is important–accuracy will help maintain trust and avoid offence in this fast-paced world.

2. Don’t be too formal

The thank-you letter is a great way to express gratitude for the time and money donors, customers, or supporters have given. Your message must be both warm and sincere, which can mean different things depending on who the recipient might be. The tone of voice that you use in your note should be friendly and personal.

Keep in mind a friendly tone of voice helps make sure people don’t stop reading after just one sentence, too.  So think about what a note would sound like if it came from an old friend instead of some corporation when crafting yours.

Depending on the culture of your organization, you may have a standard way to address a customer or donor.  Some say “Mr.” or “Ms.” while others may call them by their first name. Avoid guessing at the best title for them – only use one that has been specifically stated in advance.  You can’t go wrong with using their first name.

3. Don’t wait too long

When sending a thank-you note, it’s best not to wait so long that your customer forgets having done the thing you’re thanking them for. The slower they receive a response, the more likely they’ll forget the details of the interaction. That’s why follow-ups can’t be delayed for too long.

It’s going to take some time for your note to get finished, stamped and mailed – it’s not called “snail mail” for nothing!  So send a letter to your customer thanking them for their business as soon as you can after the transaction.

4. Don’t hide your company’s personality – or yours

It’s important to be yourself when communicating, not just because it can help you come across as more genuine, but also so the other person knows they are communicating with a real person.

Consider what your company or non-profit is about and how you would want to articulate to a customer or client for them to understand you and your company or organization better at an emotional level.

Don’t forget to include hints of your company’s personality!

And make sure to showcase your own personality, too. You’re a unique individual – don’t ever be afraid of letting that show.  Don’t forget it’s one-on-one communication, so the recipient will likely appreciate hearing from you at an authentic level rather than just another generic message sent out by any small business or organization communicating with a sea of customers.

5. Don’t ask for anything in your thank you note

Don’t ask for anything in your thank-you letter. A thank-you note’s only role is outreach: to make the customer or donor feel good and provide sincere thanks. Full stop.

Though it might be tempting to include a new piece of information – such as telling them about another service or selling some tickets to an upcoming event – don’t do that.  If you do, then your gratitude will not seem genuine, which could leave them feeling unappreciated instead of valuing your gesture of thanking them.

6. Avoid talking about your company or your goals

Similar to the last point, a thank you note should be used only to say thanks. It’s not the time for touting your company’s accomplishments or goals; it’s a chance to express gratitude and recognize a customer’s contribution to your success.

This is, however, the perfect time to be thoughtful in your thank-you note. Make it all about them, not you. Take some time and put yourself into their shoes, remembering that they could have taken their business somewhere else: they deserve a little appreciation!

Thank-You Notes Are A Powerful Tool

The right way to say thanks after doing business together might not always come naturally or easily. But once it becomes a regular part of your business operations, you’ll find it is an effort worth doing.  It’s an opportunity to say thanks and let your donors, customers or supporters know how much they are appreciated.

Lizzie Post, the great-great-granddaughter of the etiquette guru Emily Post, highlights the power of a personal note: “There’s something very lovely about the personal, physical touch of someone’s handwriting on an actual piece of paper that arrives at your door.”

The first step is deciding to send a handwritten thank-you letter to build relationships with your valued contacts. Using these rules, you will ensure that the message in that letter or note has a big and lasting impact on the recipient.

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The Revenge of Analog

Life is moving online—so why are so many of us going offline? The Revenge of Analog explains why.

If you’re a literary junkie, you know there’s been a quiet civil war raging among the community of book-lovers. At the core of this conflict is a sacred question—would you ever peruse a book using an e-reader? Is a book really a book if it isn’t on paper? On one side are those who appreciate the practicality of their Kindles and Kobos. No wonder why. They make books more affordable, take up less space than shelves, and are easier to travel with.

And the other side of the divide? To them, it isn’t a practical argument. To them, the sanctity of the paper book is spiritual.

Consider comments in this Reddit thread explaining why users prefer paper books:

“I love the feeling of a good book in my hands.”

“There is nothing more satisfying than opening a new book and getting the honour of breaking the spine.”

“Seeing withered spines and taped covers makes me smile, and I like to think the reader is reliving so many memories just from that one book.”

Note the commonalities. “Feeling,” “opening,” “breaking the spine”—these describe the physicality of the book. They say: Nothing compares to the experience of touch. Touch is connected to memory, and especially to good memories. Touch becomes the doorway to the soul.

The sanctity of touch is the theme of David Sax’s 2016 bestseller, The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter. The book explores a contradiction in the digital revolution. At a time when most of life is moving online, more and more consumers are showing a clear preference for analog—or physical—alternatives. Essentially, things they can hold in their hands—and how feeling things makes them better. Where a Google calendar offers efficiency, a paper calendar offers beauty. Where a Facetime call provides convenience, a conversation over coffee creates intimacy. Where digital can feel distant, the physical feels closer—even in the case of a handwritten letter, where the sender can live far away.

Sax chronicles the analog revolution through anecdotes that would make Malcolm Gladwell smile. He opens with the unexpected resurgence of vinyl records. Sales reached half a billion dollars in 2015—the highest level since the late 1980s. Vinyl is an experience of music that feels “heartfelt, raw, and organic,” says Sax. “You watch the record spin, and it’s like you’re sitting around a campfire,” one musician tells him. “It’s hypnotic.” And hypnotism remains a face-to-face art.

Do you think this anti-digital vengeance comes from older demographics pining for simpler times… a Bingo club of “You kids, get off my lawn” consumers? You’d be wrong. Those now dipping their toes in analog grew up bathing in digital products: Millennials and other young consumers. They are driving the success of analog alternatives like old-school Polaroid cameras with built-in printers.

Our favourite part of the analog trend is what it reveals about our enduring love of good old-fashioned paper. For instance, beyond books, Sax raises the hopeful future of magazines:

“The newer magazines that are succeeding today, publications like Kinfolk and Monocle magazines, they’re saying, ‘Okay, we might have a few ads in here, but we’re really not dependent on ads in the way that time and Newsweek and Vanity Fair is. We depend on your subscription dollars. If you like it, you pay for the subscription, you pay for each issue, and it’s going to cost you more than those Sports Illustrated things, and we’re not sending you a football phone. You’re going to pay for this, but you’re going to get something that’s a high quality and that you’ll like and it won’t feel as disposable’. And if enough people think that, then, that’s a business.

In our industry, we at Postalgia see the paper preference at play with the power of direct mail. From the huge plurality of consumers who look forward to checking the mail to the ways direct mail gets better response rates than comparable digital marketing, we see paper’s incomparable capacity to create an emotional connection between you and your stakeholders. Forging a connection in a way that digital marketing hasn’t yet matched.

This is why the paper preference is so powerful. Paper creates relationships. We’ve seen that during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the enormous proliferation of pen pal groups and letter-writing among family members as an antidote to social isolation—and in contrast, how draining the endless Zoom meetings can be.

Nowadays we hear a lot about disruption—and that the only way to be disruptive is digital. Today, the opposite is true. The revolution of analog products is on. This revolution won’t be televised—it will be handwritten on paper you can hold in your hands.

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Gratitude is a Business Strategy

Gratitude: you might know it as a hashtag, or an Indigo mug, or a word your mom has crocheted on her wall. What you may not know is that gratitude is also a business strategy—because a grateful business is a business that customers return to again and again.

Consider a 2017 research article entitled Undervaluing Gratitude: Expressers Misunderstand the Consequences of Showing Appreciation. In it, researchers Amit Kumar and Nicholas Epley demonstrated how we often assume expressing gratitude will be taken awkwardly by the recipient of our affections. In their study, participants expressing gratitude underestimated how happily surprised the recipients of gratitude would be and overestimated how awkward they would feel. Which is too bad, because the researchers also found that both expresser and recipient reported positive emotions and better well-being because of gratitude.

The simple fact is that people love being thanked and love thanking—even if, on the surface, they think they don’t.

The power of gratitude in building loyalty

Decades of research has confirmed this, as Harvard Medical School attests. “Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness,” they write, and “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” Your mom was on to something.

But before we call your mom the next Jeff Bezos, it’s worth asking the question: how can we apply the positive emotions of gratitude to a business strategy?

Let’s start by considering how expressing gratitude builds loyalty and commitment in stakeholders—whether customers, clients, or donors. Gratitude is motivating. In Globoforce’s Spring 2014 Employee Workforce Mood Tracker Survey, 86 percent of employees recognized at work felt more motivated to do their jobs. 85{c5c42d2e0b68f182649ca85478c9eaed180e8fe94e932f32b8af828d359c4a57} of employees said recognition added humanity to the workplace. And those who express gratitude are more extraverted, agreeable, open, and conscientious, leading to more employee friendships at the office and, consequently, more long-term commitment to the company.

Now apply that thinking to your key stakeholders, whether your biggest donors or your most critical customers. The same outcomes that gratitude generates in employees are just as powerful and relevant. A customer or donor who feels deeply appreciated will feel more motivated to continue working with you. A customer or donor who finds you agreeable, open, and conscientious has found a comfortable place to park their hard-earned dollars.

And in a world where AI and technology are replacing the human element, we know customers still prefer human interactions—and want to do business with brands they view as “human.” One study conducted by Forrester Consulting found that consumers who perceive a brand as human are more than twice as likely to love the brand, nearly twice as likely to purchase from that brand, and nearly twice as likely to recommend it. What’s not to love about being twice as effective with your sales? Gratitude brings humanity to your business interactions. When customers feel like appreciated people, rather than numbers, they come back.

The best part about gratitude as a business strategy?

How easy it is to implement.

Becoming an organization that intentionally expresses gratitude to its customers, donors, or clients doesn’t require rethinking your growth plan. It doesn’t require a million-dollar marketing campaign. It doesn’t require a guy in a just-too-well-fitted suit clicking through a PowerPoint and telling you how Tik Tok is the next Amazon.

Actually, all it takes is a pen, a piece of paper, and a good old-fashioned thank-you note.

Don’t take our word for it. Here’s etiquette expert Dan Post Senning:

“When I get a handwritten letter, I’m excited to open it. The art of the postage stamp, the feel of the paper, the graphic quirks of a friend’s handwriting: There is simply nothing as personal as a handwritten note. In a stack of bills and flyers, it’s a treasure in a sealed packet, full of promise and potential. It is a visceral reminder of someone far away… Handwritten notes still have a personality, warmth and, when needed, gravitas that computer screens don’t.”

Why do handwritten notes deliver a gratitude punch that no other medium can?

  1. They take just a little bit more effort. It’s easy to quickly type out an email or a text on your phone. You can jam out either of those while you’re sitting on the toilet. But a handwritten note is tailored. The uniqueness of each note and the effort of the sender says to the recipient, “I cared enough about you to write this down.”
  2. They can’t be missed, and they stick. How easy it is to delete an email or miss it entirely. Our inboxes are sources of stress, not sources of delight. But a handwritten letter is unignorable. In a pile of junk mail, there’s no joy quite like seeing a real note—they will be opened, every time. As Dan Post Senning puts it, “You can’t hold digital thanks in your hands the way you can hold a note. When was the last time you printed out an e-card? Right. Email is read and deleted. A mailed note is seen again and again on a desk or counter. Would you rather your thanks be remembered or deleted?”
  3. They are authentic and human. Penmanship is the child of personality. When we read someone’s handwriting, we can feel them on the other side of the ink—and we can sense the authenticity of their words, considering that precious time was taken to put them to paper. Earlier we talked about how customers want to do business with “human” organizations. The sense of authenticity, humanity, and personalization produced by handwritten letters offers an incomparable human touch. And that will keep the recipient committed to you for a long time to come.

Building an authentic, long-term, loyal relationship with your stakeholders is as easy as thanking them, again and again, for being part of your work. And all it takes is a handwritten note.

The best part? Handwriting letters are easier than you think

Gratitude is a winner, but let’s address the elephant-shaped pile of paper in the room. “Of course, I’d love to write handwritten notes to everyone,” you’re thinking, “But who has the time?”

Good news: you don’t need the time. Here’s how.

Oh, and we almost forgot:

Thanks for reading.

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