It’s hard to imagine, but “electronic mail” was originally intended to be just that, a virtual version of our physical mailbox. Yet these days, scrolling through our inboxes too often leaves us feeling buried under impersonal email blasts, demands from colleagues and managers, and endless sales pitches. In today’s corporate settings — whether telecommuting or typing in a cubicle — it’s easy to start feeling isolated and unappreciated, longing for face-to-face interactions and genuine recognition.
While most organizations have turned almost completely to emails and messaging platforms, more and more are doing the opposite and reaping the rewards for doing so. Direct mail, or “snail mail,” as it was dubbed at the dawn of the internet age, involves sending physical mail to targeted recipients.
While direct mail may seem outdated, companies are finding clever and helpful ways to use it to enhance their employees’ well-being and promote connectivity — in place of isolation — in their corporate cultures. Here are three reasons why direct mail works:
1. It’s personalized.
Direct mail offers a truly personalized touch in your interactions with your team. “It’s one thing to say you care about your customers or employees, but it’s another thing to demonstrate it,” said Patrick McCullough, president of Hallmark Business Connections. “Which is more likely to make a deeper and more lasting impact on an employee: an impersonal email saying, ‘We appreciate you,’ or a personalized greeting card complete with a message that conveys deep thanks, care, consideration, and empathy?”
Statistics bolster the theory that even in the digital age, we still crave personal connections. One survey found two in three Americans still prefer to receive physical cards as opposed to digital ones, including 62% of millennials and 59% of Gen Z.
In a workplace context, personalized direct mail can have a significant impact on morale. For example, if a thank-you email is well-received, imagine how much further a handwritten note from the CEO or a custom gift will go.
For example, Disruption Advisors, a tech-enabled talent development company, gives each team member an assignment to write a note of appreciation to each teammate as a wrap-up to their leadership retreats. This gesture has had a profound effect on employee satisfaction, according to the company’s founders.
And personalization doesn’t stop at handwritten notes. It could include items engraved with a custom message, such as a mug or a desk accessory. These small but thoughtful gifts make your team feel appreciated and motivated to continue adding value for you.
2. It’s a boost to mental health.
Remote work and the blurring between work and home means employees are bombarded with electronic messages 24/7. They crave tangible and physical forms of communication. Receiving physical mail can boost dopamine levels in the brain. In fact, 64% of people say greeting cards make them feel special (vs. 15% for emails and 5% for texts).
“These kinds of ‘surprise and delight’ touchpoints from employers have proven to improve an employee’s perspective, happiness, and thus their overall mental health outlook,” said McCullough.
For example, sending out care packages to employees during stressful times or after a successful project, with healthy snacks, stress balls, and a personal note from the leadership team, can bring smiles to faces even amid difficult projects or deadlines. In doing so, you create a workforce where your employees feel valued and are motivated to bring their best selves to work every day.
3. It reinforces your company values and culture.
According to a 2021 survey by Statista, 45% of people find print marketing to be a trustworthy form of advertising (compared to just 19% for social media). And it’s no different when you’re “advertising” to your team. The trust factor you earn makes direct mail an ideal medium for getting across what your company holds dear.
For example, a startup that treasures creativity and innovation can send out a monthly print newsletter to employees featuring their creative projects and unique pursuits. You can also send out personalized invitations to company events or celebrations. People get more excited with invitations they can hold in their hands.
It’s no wonder that more and more companies are discovering the value of direct mail. When your employees are happy, they’ll spread their positive attitude to your customers. And nothing spreads joy like a surprise letter in the mailbox. Who says snail mail is outdated? It may just be the best way to keep your employees engaged and your business thriving.