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Handwritten Letters and Postcards vs. Direct Mailers: A Comparative Look at Political Engagement


Photo by Dan Dennis (@cameramandan83) on Unsplash
In the arena of political engagement, campaigns and organizations are continually seeking the most effective methods to mobilize voters and generate support. Handwritten letters and postcards have long been used in political outreach, but do they perform better than direct mailers? In this blog post, we explore the efficacy of handwritten letters and postcards in comparison to direct mailers and discuss specific examples of how they can outperform when it comes to political engagement.

1. Personalized Connection

One of the main advantages of handwritten letters and postcards is the personal touch they provide, allowing campaigns to forge genuine connections with recipients. A study by the Analyst Institute found that handwritten letters had 3.4 percentage points greater impact on voter turnout than printed mailers. The personal nature of handwritten letters and postcards can make recipients feel valued and more inclined to engage with the message or attend an event.

2. Targeted Messaging

Handwritten letters and postcards present an opportunity for campaigns to tailor their messaging for specific individuals or demographic groups. By addressing the recipient's specific concerns, values, or issues, handwritten communications create a sense of understanding and empathy that may not be as easily achieved with direct mailers. A study published in the American Political Science Review found that personalized postcards had a 3.7 percentage point impact on the probability of voting in the group that received them, compared to no significant impact in the direct mail group.

3. Novelty and Visibility

In today's age of digital overload, a handwritten letter or postcard stands out as a refreshing and unique form of communication. With fewer and fewer people sending these types of mail in daily life, recipients are more likely to pay attention to a handwritten message. A study by MarketingSherpa found that personalized postcards had a 7.5% response rate, compared to a 4.9% response rate for print mailers.

4. Cost Considerations

Handwritten letters and postcards may be more labor-intensive than direct mailers, but they can also be more cost-effective in some cases. When volunteers create handwritten communication, campaigns can save on printing and postage costs while still achieving higher impact on political engagement.

5. Memorable Impact

Handwritten letters and postcards have a more enduring impact on recipients, as they tend to be more memorable compared to direct mailers. The personal touch and uniqueness of handwritten communication make it more likely that recipients will remember the message and consider engaging in political action. A study by the Journal of Experimental Political Science found that handwritten messages had a 17% greater recall rate compared to digitally printed mailers.

In Conclusion

While direct mailers may have their place in political engagement, handwritten letters and postcards have consistently proven to offer greater efficacy in connecting with recipients, providing targeted messaging, and creating memorable impact. The personal touch, novelty, and visibility of handwritten communications make them a valuable tool in the arsenal of political campaigns and organizations. Embrace the power of handwritten letters and postcards to foster genuine connections and elevate your political engagement efforts to new heights.
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