Five Maples’ Fundraising Blog

Neuroscience reveals why direct mail raises more money than digital.

Our clients (except Bernie Sanders, but that’s another story) find that direct mail fundraising outperforms digital fundraising by ten times or more.

Why won’t donors respond to digital solicitations? Don’t they know it’s easier and less expensive to send an email than a letter?

Guess what: consumers are no different.

Check out the results of the recent Direct Marketing Association study on consumer response rates.

DMA 2015 Response Rate Report
Response Rate Channel
9%-10% Telemarketing
3.7% Direct mail
0.2% Mobile ads
0.1% Paid search
0.1% Social media ads
0.1% Email
0.02% Internet display ads

What’s behind this? Neuroscience gives us some explanations.

A 2015 True Impact Marketing laboratory study looked at the neurology behind the response-driving power of direct mail. Utilizing electroencephalography (a neurological test that records electrical activity in the brain), eye-tracking, and tests of recall, interest, and preference, the study’s findings were telling:

  • Direct mail required 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital
  • Direct mail had 75% brand recall versus 44% for digital
  • Direct mail motivation response was 20% higher than digital
  • Results were consistent across all age groups

A 2015 study by The Fox Center for Neural Decision Making at Temple University showed that:

  • Readers spend more time with print than digital
  • The emotional reaction is higher to print than digital
  • Memory recall is faster with print than with digital
  • Print produces a higher subconscious desire for the product or service than digital
  • Print yields a higher subconscious value for the product or service than digital

And Royal Mail MarketReach, using steady state topography to study brain response, found that compared to email, mail had:

  • 32% greater engagement
  • 22% greater emotional intensity
  • 32% greater long-term memory encoding

What to do? The good news is that email and direct mail work better when they work together.

A study by Target Analytics found that while donors acquired online have a higher average first gift, online donors who subsequently move to direct mail giving demonstrate higher retention rates and greater long-term value.

Combine your direct mail and email solicitations, allowing both channels to serve and reinforce the other. I recommend sending two email follow-ups for each direct mail appeal. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Both your email and direct results should improve!

Question: Have you made changes to your email fundraising strategy? What were the results? Leave a comment. Let me know.

Let Five Maples help you with your fundraising efforts. You’ll get experienced advice and attention to detail to improve your results. Call me at 800 437-7780 Ext 104 or Email Me Today!

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