THE POWER OF THE ENVELOPE
PAPER MAIL IN THE 21st CENTURY
In the global economy the use of electronic mail for communications services has been rapidly growing over the last decade, “competing” with paper based communication in certain areas. This development will naturally continue.
Many business activities are shifting from post/paper to electronic mail or adding electronic communications services to the traditional ones, eg via the use of QR codes, augmented reality, or Near-Field Communication. In many areas, this can help to enhance the quality of communication with customers.
The envelope must be seen as a viable modern product in today’s media mix that ensures the message is securely and attractively transmitted in a personal way to the recipient. There are many areas and advantages to traditional mail and printed products that make it a unique and irreplaceable medium, adding value to consumers, businesses and the environment:
- 100% of households can be reached by post, even in the most remote areas of the world. Even in the EU-27, 30% of households do not have internet access
- Recent research indicates that consumers have many positive perceptions towards traditional mail and even prefer post mail to email for :
- personal messages (greetings cards)
- important and confidential information that they receive from their administration, employer, insurer or bank
- diplomas, certificates and similar documents
- The young generation, the so-called “digital natives”, highly appreciate paper based media :
o 63% of 18-24 year olds preferred to keep important documents on paper
o 78% of 18-24 year olds said that compared to other media, print and paper is more “pleasant to handle”
o According to an international Nielsen young people aged 16-34 prefer the envelope to email as they complain about an overload of digital information overflowing their electronic inboxes”
- It is environmentally friendly to use paper:
o Paper comes from renewable sources- trees. More than two trees are planted in Europe for each tree that is logged for paper production
o Mail comprises 0.1% of the total household CO2 emissions in Europe. The 14 kg of CO2 emitted is the equivalent of a 70 km car journey or 6.6 minutes of a transatlantic flight
o An electronic direct marketing campaign produces 3,7 to 4,4 times more CO2 than a paper based direct marketing campaign in order to have the same effect: at least three electronic mails (of 4,8-5,6g of carbon emissions) are necessary to reach the same impact/return as one from traditional direct mailing (9g of carbon emissions per campaign)
- Paper based communication should not be considered simply as a competitor of electronic communication and digital applications. In contrary, market developments show that digital and paper based options can provide complementary or equivalent services to each other. Furthermore, new technologies enable strategic combination of both channels, offering great opportunities for a more efficient engagement with the recipient.
Some of these include:
QR codes: high density printed barcodes, that can be read by a smartphone or PC camera, and quickly move a consumer from the printed page to a website, providing enriched content and additional information in a variety of multimedia formats.
Augmented Reality (AR): a direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing the user`s perception of reality
pURLs: are personalised web websites, created by specialist software when the pURL is actually accessed. The safest means to ensure a customer receives a pURL code is via a printed message.
Moreover, new techniques and printing technologies have made it possible to enhance visual and sensory paper communication through 3D imaging, lenticular stamps, “scratch-and-sniff” applications, die-cutting, etc., as well as the use of papers with specific qualities and textures.