Why Handwritten Direct Mail Outperforms Print Mail

Why Handwritten Direct Mail Outperforms Print Mail


To understand why handwritten direct mail is more effective than print mail, let’s run a short thought experiment. Imagine you receive two pieces of mail — a bulk-printed postcard and a hand-addressed envelope. The postcard is bright and colorful but covered with obvious sales messaging. The hand-addressed piece is just a plain envelope — no frills. Which do you look at first? 

 We’d be willing to bet you said the hand-addressed envelope. That’s most people’s choice, for a straightforward reason. The hand-addressed envelope seems more personal. Whereas the bulk-printed mailer feels like advertising junk mail, the handwritten card appears to be written specifically for you. Whether it’s a card from a friend or a piece of handwritten direct mail, it will get opened before any sort of print mail because it feels special. 

Let’s drill a bit deeper to see why handwritten direct mail outperforms print mail in every meaningful metric. It’s an important topic because if you aren’t using handwritten mailers, you’re missing out on a chance to improve your marketing ROI dramatically.

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Handwritten Direct Mail Is More Likely to Be Opened and Read

As a category, direct mail of all stripes still performs well compared to digital marketing tactics, even though we often hear that direct mail is dead. It enjoys an average response rate of 5.1%. This may not sound particularly impressive, but it’s almost ten times higher than email, paid search, and social media, which score response rates of 0.6%, 0.6%, and 0.4%, respectively. 

 Print mail open rates are impressive, too. One measure found that 42% of recipients read the bulk-printed direct mail they receive. However, this pales in comparison to handwritten direct mail. Recipients open handwritten mailers 99% of the time! 

 This may seem too good to be true, but the logic behind this remarkable open rate is sound. People rarely receive handwritten communications anymore. Today, nearly all personal correspondence is handled through email, chat, and text messages. Decades ago, you could expect to find plenty of hand-addressed envelopes in your mailbox, but today there are almost none. So when one appears, it feels like a special occasion. Curiosity guarantees that people will open it nearly every single time.

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Woman reading a letter


When recipients receive a traditional bulk mailer, they know with little doubt that all of their neighbors have identical mail pieces sitting in their mailboxes. There’s no sense that the postcard or leaflet was intended for them. They were just one address among thousands targeted with identical communications. 

 Handwritten direct mail takes advantage of our predisposition toward handwriting as a personal medium. When we get a hand-penned card or letter, we assume the sender had us in mind when they wrote it. Because, of course, they did. A handwritten communication is always written to a specific person.  

 Automated handwriting machines, like those we use at Simply Noted, can generate thousands of unique, pen-written cards that are hand-addressed to specific recipients. A person may not have written them, but it feels like someone did, and this personal touch will trigger the same emotional reaction that a letter from a friend might.  

 With handwritten direct mail, you get the speed and reliability of mass production mixed with the warmth of a handwritten letter.

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Girl reading a card


Automated handwritten mailers cost a bit more than their bulk-printed brethren. However, because they offer a better response rate, handwritten direct mail offers a higher ROI and a significantly lower cost per lead. A quick bit of math will bear this out. 

 Let’s imagine we send out 2,000 traditional print mailers at $2.50 per piece. The campaign would run you $5,000. Assuming a 5% response, you’d get 100 leads at the cost of $50 each.  

 That same campaign would cost $6,000 using handwritten direct mail through Simply Noted, with a unit cost of $3.00 per mailer. However, your response rate would likely be considerably higher. If we assume a conservative 20% response rate, you will net 400 leads. The 20% extra invested translates to 300% more leads, lowering your per lead cost to only $15 — a MUCH better deal!

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Marketing mailers are a turnoff, whether they come to your inbox or arrive at your mailbox. There’s a reason people call them “junk mail.” Recipients generally don’t appreciate their personal mail being used to try and sell them things. The less your direct mail pieces feel like traditional marketing pieces, the less offensive they’ll be. 

 Handwritten direct mail is the best way around this problem. Our handwritten cards can be customized with dozens of different handwriting fonts. We can even replicate your handwriting for the ultimate in personalization. Then our handwriting machines scribe your messages using real ballpoint pens. You’ll see the indentation in the paper as well as the trailing line of ink across the page. 

 These are mass-produced mailers that feel as if each one was hand-penned with an individual recipient in mind. Even if you know they were written by a machine they still feel less like an advertisement and more like a personal message. It’s a convincing illusion that translates to higher response rates, better conversions, and a more substantial ROI. They’re the closest thing you can get to a friendly face-to-face chat with each of your prospects without meeting each on in person. Most importantly, they work.

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Woman smiling at camera


It’s easy to add handwritten direct mail to your current marketing efforts. We offer integrations with most major business software packages. You can tie your CRM directly to our service, allowing you to send any number of handwritten mail pieces instantly. Our handwriting machines will scribe your message, handwrite your envelopes, and drop them in the mail. All you have to do is be ready to answer the phone. 

 If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to call. We’re ready to explain precisely how handwritten direct mail can revolutionize your marketing results.