Handwritten Notes as an Alternative to Email

It’s a new year, and every retailer, for better or worse, is already ramping up their email marketing efforts. Every company wants better open rates, more customers and genuine customer loyalty, yet every year we see many brands compete with exactly the same marketing playbook and hope to outperform past years and stand out against their peers. 

Brands looking to think outside the box this year should consider the ultimate throwback offering, the handwritten note.

Handwritten mail is unique and memorable

Think back to the last time you received a piece of handwritten mail addressed specifically to you.

You are at the mailbox, sifting through bills and local advertisements when you see a pen-written note addressed to you. It could be a thank you card, an invitation to an event, or possibly a birthday greeting from your grandparents. The odds are you high that you opened that letter, and potentially even smiled after reading the contents.

Even after you read it, It likely sat on a table or desk and remained within your realm of attention beyond just the moment of receipt. 

Yet U.S. Households are receiving less handwritten mail every year.  According to the 2017 USPS Household Diary Study, “Total U.S. mail volume decreased by an average of 2.0 % per year between 2001 and 2017 while population and household formation increased by about 1.0% per year.”

The scarcity of handwritten mail appears even more prevalent for younger generations, as this one survey found almost 20 percent of all British children have no idea how to write a handwritten letter. 

Avoid the avalanche of email 

That memorable experience translates over for brands as handwritten notes stand out in the minds of American consumers. 61% of Americans reported that receiving a handwritten note from a company would make them view that business more favorably. 

Compare the handwritten note experience to the multitude of challenges facing email marketers today. The average office worker receives 121 emails per day. 17% of all email in North America never makes it into the intended recipient’s inbox and for the email that does arrive, an average of only 8 percent of all email is opened.

Handwritten notes build loyalty 

The best customers don’t buy your product or service once. They come back again and again. According to research done by Invespcro, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. Additionally, it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. 

Handwritten notes are a great way to build connections with first-time customers and invite them back to visit your site again.

A recent study by Amit Kumar, assistant professor of marketing and psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, and Nicholas Epley, professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, demonstrated that letter-senders underestimated how positive recipients would feel. 

If you are skeptical about the power of handwritten notes, I encourage you to take 10 minutes and write someone a handwritten note today. Tell them you appreciate them and then wait to see their reaction. At our most basic level as humans, we enjoy being told we matter.