Embrace haptics for direct mail differentiation

As the charge towards digital and all it delivers for direct marketing – data, personalisation, targeting, cross platform tracking – builds increasing momentum and takes bigger slices of the DM budget, it’s worth remembering there is still room for the creative piece of print material.

Branwell Johnson

And while I’m sure it’s not a new trend the application of ‘haptics’ to creating memorable DM pieces was recently brought to my attention.

Haptics – defined as “Of or relating to the sense of touch” – has surfaced recently in new digital contexts. Our regular columnist Nathalie Nahai referenced haptics in a recent column in the context of vibrations felt through the phone or gaming console to enhance an experience.

But I recently saw some examples of what can be done with mere card and paper to enhance the texture and tactileness of DM. Intricate folding pieces, in this case for luxury watch website Chrono24.com, were pleasurable to manipulate and made an impression far more than a throwaway one sheet listing product attributes or making a discount offer.

Playful pieces of DM with different card textures have always been there but this was an extra step in paper engineering akin to Origami folding and actually kept the mind working too.

One example of really thinking outside the box and creating a physical piece that certainly plays to the senses is The Land Rover Edible Desert Survival Manual. It’s going back a couple of years to 2012 but was very inventive – a booklet containing desert survival tips but also with edible paper and ink “with a nutritional value close to that of a cheeseburger”.

In an age where email open rates are falling, people’s in-boxes are filling up and there’s so much noise to cut-through on social media platforms, a well-crafted and targeted piece of direct mail can still hold its own and create a talking point. Let’s not forget that.

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