Is Snail Mail Obsolete?

time to read article8 minutes

article date Dec 07, 2020

There’s nothing quite like walking to the mailbox and finding a handwritten note or letter waiting for you. But will our grandchildren have that experience? We polled a panel of professionals to get their predictions on the future of snail mail. Read on to learn what they had to say.

Polly Kay

Polly Kay

Polly Kay, Senior Marketing Manager at English Blinds.

Depends on your goal

Whether or not snail mail is obsolete depends on your goal or intention in using or integrating it into your campaign or collateral. It sometimes still has value, in particular when targeting older demographics who might not be internet users at all, who might not be proficient at using tech, or who are suspicious of it.

Such groups have different types of life experiences and references than younger people, and they often still assign unconscious value and gravitas to snail mail above electronic communications, whether warranted or not. However, when it comes to junk mail – circulars, unaddressed mail, or whatever term you use to describe generic scattershot mail and flyers, these have had their day.

Sending snail mail is very costly compared to most other ad targeting methods, both on and offline, so before using such an approach, you need to have a reasonable expectation of it paying off. This means doing plenty of research into your demographic targets and their preferences.

Addressed mail and that which is also different from the norm, such as mail containing a gift like a pen or a keyring rather than a single slip of paper or a bill, can be highly effective. This is because it draws the attention before the addressee even looks at it. The feel of mail that holds something other than papers is different, weightier, and catches the attention and draws the eye. This results in such mail being opened, and even if the [offer] isn’t immediately taken, recipients are unlikely to throw the solid item away. They can either make use of it (or think they can) or they simply won’t want to be wasteful, which means that branded promotional collateral has now made its way into your prospect’s home where it may remain for some time.

Is this something your audience might act on, and does this sound like the consumer behavior you’d expect your demographic targets to display upon receipt of your snail mail? If the research says yes, you might find value in this otherwise potentially outdated method of communication yet.

Mason Culligan

Mason Culligan

Mason Culligan founded a website hosting company 10 years ago and has worked in the IT industry for the past 15 years. He runs a multimedia company called Mattress Battle.

It is still useful

Receiving emails that usually contain spam messages are annoying. No wonder these are all getting trashed. In this digital age, where email and text messages are the fastest way to communicate, snail mail is still useful. It's not obsolete. It's a tangible thing that relays messages with a more personal approach, unlike emails.

With snail mail, you're more likely to receive legit mail than spam. You can get your hands on it and read it before keeping or trashing it. It gets your attention, which makes snail mail effective. For businesses, snail mail is a great way to deliver messages to people who don't have access to technology. Reaching out and communicating with them through snail mail is a great way to increase your brand's reputation and customer engagement.

Receiving snail mail these days is exciting. It will make [people] curious to read what's inside and more willing to engage with the company.

Mary Potter Kenyon

Mary Potter Kenyon

Mary Potter Kenyon graduated from the University of Northern Iowa and is a certified grief counselor and program coordinator at a spirituality center. She is the author of seven books, including "Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink," co-written with Mary Jedlicka Humston. Web: marypotterkenyon.com

The love of putting pen to paper

Writing letters is the one meditative practice I've managed to incorporate into my busy life. Letter-writing has been a big part of my life, first as a new mother in the ‘80s when magazines like "Women's Circle" still carried pen pal ads, and later as a homeschooling mother of eight children, as a way to connect with the outside world. Even my children had pen pals with common interests. My oldest daughter met her husband through a pen pal ad in "Countryside" magazine.

I have a long-standing pen friendship with my good friend Mary, who wrote a book with me on the topic of female friendship and letter writing. I kept every letter my mother wrote to me during those years I was busy raising young children and lived a distance from her. I now have them organized in binders. Even though she died ten years ago, when I re-read them, it's like visiting with her again.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I started writing sisters and friends I hadn't been keeping in touch with very well. It was a way to stay connected that didn't involve screen time or texts. I was surprised when letters back began arriving in my mailbox. I even started a new pen pal relationship with a widower in Texas. Since I was widowed in 2012, and we are both writers, we have a lot in common, including the love of putting pen to paper.

Andrew Roderick

Andrew Roderick

Andrew Roderick, CEO of CreditRepairCompanies.com.

A keepsake

Much like people's love of books was left undaunted by the threat of reading on a screen, there is still a demand for 'snail mail' in certain arenas. The best example for this is event invites. Whether it be a gallery opening or a wedding invitation, people still love receiving these physical keepsakes that are easily displayed on kitchen fridges as a reminder and add a personal touch where you know effort has been put in to invite you to something.

Everyone likes that feeling of being selected, and an impersonal email that may have been sent to 10,000 other people just doesn't have the same effect and is much more easily forgotten by the time the event comes around.

Israel Gaudette

Israel Gaudette

Israel Gaudette, Founder of Link Tracker Pro, one of Canada’s fastest-growing SaaS companies.

Will never cease to exist

Snail mail will never cease to exist. I’ve given this answer a thousand times to a thousand people. While I still hear a thousand more criticisms questioning my stand, it will never [convince] me to back down. There will always be someone who still wants to send handwritten personalized notes, love letters, or a gift to someone they love. The need for hard copies with original signatures on things will always be there. The paper trail will still remain valuable. And snail mail will never go extinct, especially while package delivery is on the rise. Lastly, nothing can ever replace the power of a word written in ink on paper.

In today's digital age, communication has changed drastically, and it continuously evolves as time passes. While most of the traditional ways of doing things are slowly becoming obsolete, snail mail will never become one of those.

Paul Lewis

Paul Lewis

Paul Lewis, Founder of Scrum Explainer, one of the fastest-growing software management resources.

Just a matter of time

Snail mail. It’s just a matter of time for the postal services to be completely wiped out. I can’t even remember the last time I visited my local post office.

I once asked a colleague for an opinion on whether or not snail mail would become obsolete. To my surprise, he immediately asked me back saying, “Have you thought about what you are asking? Why use the post office when you have the internet?” It left me speechless and wondering if there is anyone out there still using snail mail. The world is now in a digital age where everything runs electronically. In an instant, you can send birthday greetings and say hello anywhere in the world.

Sooner or later, whether we like it or not, technology will change almost everything. There is no denying it. And when it happens, all we have to do is to embrace it, even if it means forgetting the traditional ways of getting things done that we love the most.

Michael Miller

Michael Miller

Michael Miller, CEO of VPN Online, one of the fastest-growing media companies in the cyber-security space.

Has reached its end

There comes a time when you simply have to let go. Snail mail has already done its part, and now it's time for the new generation to step in and take over. The world is changing, and speed is becoming the standard of excellence. Gone are the days that you need to wait for a couple of days to get the mail. With the development of the internet, things have become instantaneous, including mail.

I can definitely say that snail mail has reached its end. There's simply no way it could compete with emails, messages, and social media. Although there are still some who stubbornly refuse to quit, it's only a matter of time before we see the last of snail mail. In the near future, no one will even remember what it was.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors are not necessarily affiliated with this website and their statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.

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