By: Joyce Carrier

A few years ago, we launched an advertising campaign for our Flat Rate Boxes that employed television, online, radio and, of course, direct mail.

While television was part of the reason the campaign tagline, “If it fits, it ships,” became a catchphrase around the country, the biggest response (35 percent) came from our direct mail efforts. That was no surprise to us — after all, we know the power of direct mail better than most — but the reaction it generated with other audiences told us something: We needed to get the word out about the power of mail.

So, recently we began a new campaign, this one focused on letting consumers and businesses know what an effective medium mail can be. You might have seen the first round of those ads, which talk about the privacy and security that mail offers.

An interesting thing happened when we tested those ads. More than 64 percent of consumers told us they “value the mail” they receive in their mailbox, but when we asked businesses what they thought, only 36 percent told us they thought consumers still value their mail.

Clearly, there’s a disconnect here. Consumers still attach a high value to messages communicated through the mail, but many marketers have turned away from the mail in favor of communicating through digital channels. As our use of digital communications such as e-mail, SMS and social media has grown, many marketers have formed the opinion that mail is no longer relevant.

As these numbers point out, that’s simply not true.

Let me be clear that we’re not Luddites. We’re not advocating that marketers abandon digital communications completely for mail. What we’re saying is that your customers should have a choice: They should be able to select the channel they prefer for communication, whether it’s receiving offers, paying their bills, receiving a catalog or simply gaining knowledge about your products.

We all understand that different channels are highly effective for different types of messaging, but as the survey points out, mail still has a vital role to play in getting your brand’s message into the hands of your customers.

As our annual Household Diary studies have continually showed us, people really do love getting mail. Even young people, whom marketers have come to regard as the “digital generation,” said in a recent survey conducted by ExactTarget that they’d made a purchase based on something they received in the mail (76 percent).

And would you believe that 65 percent of adult Millennials say they prefer to read something on paper? It’s true.

The message here isn’t that digital is not an effective tool. It’s that a multichannel approach is the best way to get your message across. That brands would be wise to listen to their customers and communicate to them in the way they find best. And that even in an increasingly digital age, mail still has a vital role to play in growing your business.

Joyce Carrier is manager of Advertising and Promotion, U.S. Postal Service.®