Snail Mail vs. Email Study Yields Mixed Results

    June 21, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

There are a number of questions not readily answerable about this survey, but some of the results make intuitive sense to me at least. The survey was conducted by International Communications Research (ICR) and concludes that customers overwhelmingly prefer promotional messages via snail mail (but that doesn’t mean they are persuaded by them).

The first question arises when you see that Pitney Bowes (PB), a company that earns it keep with snail mail services, commissioned and publicized the study. It’s also not immediately clear who was polled, how many, and by what process, but PB has been commissioning this study every two years since 1999 so we’ll run with it.

The study found that 73 percent prefer receiving mail about new products and offers from companies rather than email, which pulled in just 18 percent of respondent preferences. This was also true for unsolicited mail, as 70 percent preferred mail over other communicative approaches.

The numbers spike when speaking of confidential communications such as bills, bank statements and financial reports as 86 percent preferred receiving that information via mail, compared to just 10 percent for email. Also, that number is unchanged since 2004.

“The research clearly shows that consumers still prefer mail over e-mail,” said Stacy DeWalt, vice president, Vertical Market Development and Marketing, Pitney Bowes Management Services (PBMS). "In working with our customers, we continue to find that mail is the most effective marketing tool businesses can use when communicating with their customers."

Yes, that is convenient.

Thirty-one percent were less likely to discard unopened mail like new product brochures, catalogs or other advertising materials than they are unsolicited email about new products. Over 53 percent said they were more likely to delete unopened emails about new products.

When framing the rest of the findings, PB spins a bit though, reversing the numbers to appear more positive toward mail it seems, and placing them at the end of the press release. Note also the difficulty of finding this survey at ICR’s site.

Other findings:

45.3 percent (that’s it?) think mail is less intrusive than unsolicited email or telephone calls (The only thing I hate worse than spam is a phone call).

40.2 percent think mail is more convenient, allowing them to browse at leisure. (Does that mean almost 60 percent don’t think it’s more convenient?)

30.2 percent think mail is less high-pressured.

22.7 percent think mail is more descriptive.

12 percent think mail is more persuasive.

That last one’s especially interesting, indicating that a vast 88 percent find other forms of communication more persuasive. I’m old school, so I definitely prefer snail mail for unsolicited messages – but that usually means I just toss it in the garbage or put it into the basket with all the rest and forget about it.