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USPS publishes report on direct mail, millennials and it’s so wrong

(SOCIAL MEDIA) The USPS published a study about the relationship between millennials and snail mail and Facebook lost its collective mind.

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Snail mail

USPS recently cultivated seemingly misrepresented information to develop a white paper report titled: “Still Relevant: A Look at How Millennials Respond to Direct Mail.”

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The report, although descriptive, has received a ton of backlash from millennials who have adamantly rejected the findings.

Throw some numbers

The first assertion the study makes is that young adults do read mail, although the stereotype is that they are digital obsessed and only reachable through social media. The study establishes though, that millennials respond to “paper in a mailbox.” According to the USPS in fact, 84% of millennials take the time to look through their mail while 64% would rather scan for useful information in the mail than email.

To support this assertion they relied on other studies to develop an infographic to reveal in more depth what millennials think and do about direct mail, or paper in the mailbox. According to the infographic, 77% of Millennials pay attention to direct mail advertising, 90% believe mail is reliable and 87% actually like receiving direct mail.

Another assertion from the USPS is that there is little difference between non-millennials and millennials and how they consume mail.

According to them millennials are 5% more likely to scan the mail, organize and sort the mail, and show mail to others.

One explanation for USPS’ overall assertion that Direct Mail is still relevant is based on a study with the Center for Neural Decision Making at Temple University’s Fox School of Business on a study to gauge responses to physical and digital advertising pieces. They found that millennials processed digital ad content more quickly and spent more time with physical ads.

They also found that physical ads had a stronger emotional response and triggered activity in a part of the brain that corresponds with value and desirability.

The Canadian Post found similar results in two campaigns that used the same creative and messaging for both physical and digital media. From those they divulged that direct mail campaigns require 21% less cognitive effort to process, and participants’ recall was 70% higher when exposed to direct mail opposed to digital ads.

And despite the fact that it has been proven that millennials are more digitally engaged, the USPS and other marketers feel they are also suffering from digital fatigue and therefore ignore digital ads because they are so frequent. At the end of their white paper findings though, the USPS is careful to add that they do not recommend marketers to abandon all digital channels, because millennials are so present there.

How Do Millennials Feel About USPS’s Information on Millennials

As a millennial who vehemently avoids my mailbox, and has a monthly compost of physical ads from the USPS, I knew there would be opposition and widespread disagreement, but not like what I found. The most straightforward and common view I found, was a Facebook post with 427 likes and 48 supporting comments:

And while I don’t hate the USPS, I do partially agree with Derrick in that we don’t want mailbox fluff. A further look into comments reveals the majority of millennials and non-millennials too, disagree with the USPS’ findings.

A search on Reddit returns even more millennials who absolutely disagree, and makes us wonder: who the heck, and where the heck, did USPS get this information?Click To Tweet

I understand physical mail may provoke more emotion than digital ads since we are digitally desensitized, but I’m interested in what group of millennials they interviewed and what they asked for them to report that 84% of millennials take the time to look through their mail.

Millennial mail

Overall, we as millennials respect the USPS for its years of service and mail delivery, but to say we prefer it’s direct mail over digital content, is largely controversial and hard to agree with.

#USPS

Lauren Flanigan is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, hailing from the windy hills of Cincinnati, with a degree in Marketing from the University of Cincinnati. She has escaped the hills, and currently resides in Atlanta, where you can almost always find her camping at a Starbucks strategizing on how to take over the world.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Gordon Glazer

    April 26, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    So it appears your thesis is supported primarily from opinions and likes to a negative comment on FB. And this is worthy?

  2. Scott

    April 27, 2017 at 9:21 am

    As a millennial and someone who works in the Direct Marketing Industry, I do question the percentages given on this report. I also know that my inbox is saturated with offers that I don’t even glance at.

    My biggest take away from this article is trying to correlate a “Reddit User” comparatively to a “Non-Reddit User”. I think it’s fair to say the typical person who posts on Reddit will be skewed against Direct Mail or Traditional Marketing Practices.

  3. Jamie Lumm

    April 27, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    I am going to avoid making a snarky comment about the obvious grammatical error in the headline, so in keeping with the dozens and dozens of pieces of junk adverts I receive every day on Facebook, “like and share if you can find the mistake.” Oops, I think I just snarked there a little.

    What I find ironic about this article is how the author, in what some would describe as typical millennial fashion, dismisses the finding of two extensive studies because of “likes” and “comments” she viewed on Facebook. Seriously? Is that what millennials think constitutes research or objective polling? That’s what is called confirmation bias and is about as objectively reliable as asking Trump supports if we should build the border wall. If you really “wonder who the heck and where the heck” the USPS got this information, you should take the time to read the references listed in its many footnotes. Otherwise, people might think millennials have a short attention span.
    And while you’re at it, calm down a little. There’s no need to be vehement (def: strongly emotional; characterized by rancor or hostility; marked by great energy or exertion)about avoiding your mailbox. Somebody else paid for what was sent to you. Besides, a daily stroll to your mailbox is good for you, and you can toss your junk mail in the trash (or compost) all at once rather than having to swipe or mark each piece. Meanwhile, it provides the many millennials who produce and deliver it with decent well-paying jobs.

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  5. Pingback: New USPS duck-shaped truck design has mixed reactions

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Social Media

Why Trump’s lawsuit against social media still matters

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Former President Trump snagged headlines for suing every large social media platform, and it has gone quiet, but it still deeply matters.

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It was splashed across headlines everywhere in July: Former President Trump filed a lawsuit against social media platforms that he claims unrightfully banned him during and after the fallout of the January 6th capitol riots. The headlines ran for about a week or so and then fell off the radar as other, fresher, just-as-juicy news headlines captured the media’s eye.

Many of us were left wondering what that was all about and if anything ever became of it. For even more of us, it probably passed out of our minds completely. Lack of public awareness for these things is common after the initial media blitz fades.

Lawsuits like these in the US can take months, if not years between newsworthy milestones. The most recent news I could find as of this publishing is from August 24, 2021, on Yahoo! News from the Washington Examiner discussing the Trump camp’s request for a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit.

This particular suit shouldn’t be left to fade from memory in the shadows though, and here’s why:

In the past few years, world powers have been reigning in regulations on social media and internet commerce. The US is actually a little behind the curve. Trump may have unwittingly given us a source of momentum to get with the times.

In the European Union, they have the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), widely acknowledged to be one of the toughest and most thorough privacy laws in the world, a bold title. China just passed its own pair of laws in the past four months: The Data Security Law, which took effect on Sept. 1, and The Personal Information Law, set to take effect November 1st. The pair is poised to give the GDPR a run for its money for that title.

Meanwhile, in the US, Congress has been occupied with other things and, while there are five bills that took aim at tech monopoly currently on the table and a few CEOs had to answer some questions, little actual movement or progress has been made on making similar privacy protections a thing in the United States.

Trump’s lawsuit, while labeled by many as a toothless public relations move, may actually create momentum needed to push regulation of tech and social media forward in the US. The merits of the case are weak and ultimately the legislation that would give it teeth doesn’t exist yet.

You can’t hold tech companies accountable to a standard that doesn’t properly exist in law.

However, high profile attention and someone willing to continue to make noise and bring attention back to the subject, one of Trump’s strongest talents, could be “just what the doctor ordered” to inspire Congress to make internet user rights and data privacy a priority in the US, finally.

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Even solopreneurs are doing live commerce online – it’s not just QVC’s game anymore

(SOCIAL MEDIA) When you think of watching a show and buying things in real time, it invokes thoughts of QVC, but social media video has changed all that.

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After the year everyone has had, one wouldn’t be remiss in thinking that humanity wants a break from live streaming. They would, however, be wrong: Live online commerce – a method of conversion first normalized in China – is the next evolution of the ubiquitous e-commerce experience, which means it’s something you’ll want on your radar.

Chinese company, Alibaba first live streamed on an e-commerce site in 2016, allowing buyers to watch, interact with, and buy from sellers from the comfort of their homes. In 2020, that same strategy netted Alibaba $7.5 billion in presale revenue – and it only took 30 minutes, according to McKinsey Digital.

But, though western audiences have proven a desire to be just as involved with sellers during the buying process, live commerce hasn’t taken off here the way it has elsewhere. If e-commerce merchants want to maximize their returns in the next few years, that needs to change.

McKinsey Digital points out a couple of different benefits for organizations using live commerce, the main one being an influx in traffic. Live streaming events break the buying experience mold, and consumers love being surprised. You can expect that prospective buyers who wouldn’t necessarily visit your store under normal circumstances would find value in attending a live event.

Live events also keep people on your site for longer, resulting in richer conversion opportunities.

The sense of urgency inherent in in-person shopping doesn’t always translate to online markets, but having a stream showing decreasing inventory or limited-availability items being sold inspires people to act expeditiously rather than sitting on a loaded cart–something that can kill an e-commerce conversion as quickly as it starts one.

There are a ton of different ways to incorporate live events into your e-commerce campaigns. Virtual auctions are popular, as are markets in which individual sellers take buyers through inventory. However, the live event could be tangentially related–or even just something impressive running in parallel with the sale–and still bring in a swell of revenue.

Screen fatigue is real, and there isn’t a true substitute for a brick-and-mortar experience when done correctly. But if you have an e-commerce shop that isn’t utilizing some form of live entertainment–even just to bring in new buyers–you’re going to want to try this strategy soon.

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LinkedIn is nixing Stories this month (LinkedIn had Stories!?)

(SOCIAL MEDIA) LinkedIn tried to be like the cool kids and launched “Stories,” but the video feature is being shelved and “reimagined.” Ok.

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Creating the next big thing is essential for social networks to stay relevant, continue growing, and avoid shutting down. Sometimes, this leads to businesses trying to ride along with the success of another app’s latest feature and creating their cloned version. While the logic of recreating something already working makes sense, the results aren’t universal.

This time around, LinkedIn is saying goodbye to its short-lived Snapchat-like video product, Stories. In a company post, LinkedIn says it’s removing its Stories experience by the end of September.

Why is LinkedIn retiring Stories?

According to a post by Senior Director of Product at LinkedIn Liz Li, “[LinkedIn] introduced Stories last year as a fun and casual way to share quick video updates.”

After some testing and feedback, they learned this is not what users wanted. Seems like they could have beta tested with users and heard the same thing, but I digress.

“In developing Stories, we assumed people wouldn’t want informal videos attached to their profile, and that ephemerality would reduce barriers that people feel about posting. Turns out, you want to create lasting videos that tell your professional story in a more personal way and that showcase both your personality and expertise,” said Li.

What does this mean for users?

Starting on September 30, 2021, users will no longer be able to create Stories for Pages. If you’ve already planned to have an image or video ads run in-between Stories, they will now appear on the LinkedIn feed instead. For those who used Campaign Manager to promote or sponsor a Story directly from your Page, the company says “these paid Stories will not appear in the LinkedIn feed”, and the user will need to recreate the ad in Campaign Manager.

What’s next for LinkedIn?

According to Li, LinkedIn is taking what it learned from its finding to “evolve the Stories format into a reimagined video experience across LinkedIn that’s even richer and more conversational.” It plans on doing so by using mixed media and the creative tools of Stories.

“As we reimagine what is next, we’re focusing on how we can provide you with a short-form, rich interactive video format that is unique to our platform and that better helps you reach and engage your audiences on LinkedIn. We’re always excited to try out new things and learn as we go, and will continue to share updates along the way,” the company said.

Although Stories didn’t work well for LinkedIn as they hoped, one thing is for sure. LinkedIn isn’t giving up on some form of interactive video, and we can only hope they “reimagine” something unique that keeps users coming back for more.

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