Handwritten Notes: The Be-All, End-All Guide You Need
Handwritten notes – they’ve been around for centuries, but the big digital boom brushed this direct mail marketing method under the rug. People were caught off-guard by the shiny new toy that was the internet, so direct mail quickly became an “old-timers” marketing choice.
Then, in 2019, the world was hit by a pandemic that screeched everything non-digital to a halt. The human connection we all need disappeared overnight and marketing companies took that as a cue to market more on digital platforms.
Soon people were overwhelmed with anything and everything online. Even Millennials got tired of getting digital advertisements. Psychological changes in how people perceived the online space drove the effectiveness of digital marketing down and a gap filled with a need for human interaction developed.
The real “old-timers” who were around before direct mail was swept away decided to resurrect this age-old marketing tactic and it worked! Today, handwritten notes and direct mail marketing are some of the most effective means of reaching out to consumers, clients, prospects, leads and anyone else you want to connect with.
When Did the Handwritten Note First Appear?
The first handwritten note is said to have been written around 500 BC by Atossa, according to the BU College of Communication. Atossa was a Persian queen who lived in the 6th century BC. She was the daughter of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Empire. Atossa married Darius I and they had six children together.
Atossa was known for her great beauty and she was also renowned for her wisdom. She allegedly advised her husband on several occasions and she is even said to have taught him how to read and write.
Queen Atossa was very influential in Persian politics and she played a key role in keeping the empire stable during her lifetime. After her death, Darius I ordered that statues be made in her honor, which were placed in all the major cities of Persia.
What’s even more impressive is that handwriting, in some way, has been around since 3400 BC in Mesopotamia, shares Getty.
But, what about handwritten notes in this century?
Is Direct Mail Marketing Effective With Consumers?
The effectiveness of direct mail marketing depends on a variety of factors, including the target audience, the offer and the creative execution. However, according to recent studies, direct mail marketing is one of the most effective channels for acquiring new customers and driving loyalty among current customers.
One reason direct mail may be so effective is that it allows you to personalize your message in a way that digital channels can’t match. And because people are bombarded with so much digital advertising these days, they may be more likely to pay attention to a well-executed piece of direct mail.
- The open rate of direct mail is up to 30 times higher than digital communications; approaching 90%.
Open rate is the percentage of recipients who open a piece of mail, which is a metric that can be used to gauge the effectiveness of a direct mail marketing campaign. Generally, a higher open rate is better, as it indicates that more people are interested in the message and are taking the time to read it. Many factors can affect the open rate in handwritten notes, such as paper quality, ink quality, creative and more.
Studies have shown that the average open rate for direct mail is between 20% and 30%. So, if you’re planning a direct mail campaign, you can expect that around 20 to 30% of recipients will open your letter unless it’s a handwritten note. According to Fundera, the most effective direct mail campaigns, like handwritten mail, have open rates as high as 90%.
“Handwritten messages are more effective than print messages in building relationships in a service context because they elicit stronger feelings of warmth because of both the perception of greater effort and feelings of greater psychological closeness to the service provider,” according to research published in the Journal of Services Marketing.
- A handwritten note is a tactile, interactive experience – they can touch it and feel it.
A tactile, interactive experience is important to consumers for a variety of reasons. First, it allows them to have hands-on interaction with the product. This can be helpful in terms of getting a feel for the genuineness of the sender.
There are a few other reasons why real-life handwritten notes are so effective in marketing. First, they personalize the interaction between the company and the consumer. A handwritten note shows that the company cares enough about the consumer to take the time to write a personal message. This builds trust and loyalty between the two parties.
Second, handwritten notes carry a sense of authority. They look like they come from an official source, which can make consumers more likely to trust the promotional message.
Third, handwritten notes create a feeling of urgency. When consumers see a message written in someone’s handwriting, they feel like they need to act fast before the offer expires. This pushes them to take action and buy your product or use your service.
- Direct mail is far more exciting than digital mail.
When it comes to marketing, hands-on excitement means getting out there and engaging with your target audience in a personal way. It could involve attending events, meeting people in person, or even just sending out personalized handwritten notes. The idea is to make a real connection with your customers and show them that you care about them.
It’s all about creating a connection and building trust. When people feel like they know you and that you understand their needs, they’re more likely to do business with you. So getting out there and putting in the extra effort can pay off in the long run.
- Handwritten notes are cost-effective so you can optimize your marketing budget.
“Direct marketing that is targeted to a specific audience can help you set realistic sales goals and improve sales results on a tight marketing budget. Businesses can run effective and purposeful direct marketing campaigns at a fraction of the cost,” according to Queensland Government.
- Consumers trust direct mail more than digital mail.
Trust is a huge factor in any type of marketing, whether it’s digital or physical. With direct mail, there’s a more personal touch that can give consumers a better sense of who you are as a company. You can control the message more easily and make sure that it’s targeted specifically to your audience. With digital mail, it’s easy for your message to get lost in the shuffle or come off as impersonal.
Elements for an Effective Handwritten Note
What exactly should you be looking for in a handwritten notes service provider?
- Premium Quality Materials
- Convincing Handwriting
- Fast Turnaround Time
- Professional Support
- Personalization & Customization
- A/B Testing Option
- Note Tracking
- Omnichannel Marketing
Now let’s talk a closer look at these elements with a focus on why they’re so important.
Digging Deeper Into Handwritten Notes That Work
Handwritten notes for marketing can be extremely effective in building personal connections with customers and creating a more intimate touchpoint.
People tend to remember things better when they are written down, so a handwritten note is more likely to stick in someone’s mind than an email or even a face-to-face conversation. This is especially true if the handwriting is distinctive and easily recognizable.
There is also something special about receiving a piece of correspondence that has been handwritten specifically for you. In this age of digital communication, it can be easy to feel like we’re all just cogs in a machine – but getting a handwritten note can make someone feel valued and appreciated as an individual.
What exactly are you looking for?
Premium Quality Materials
Writing is a means of conveying ideas and thoughts and the paper you use can play an important role in how well those ideas are conveyed. The weight, texture and finish of the paper can all affect how your handwriting looks and how easy or difficult it is to write on.
So if you’re looking to produce neat, attractive handwritten notes then it’s worth considering what kind of paper you use. Cardstock generally comes in two different weights – regular weight and thick (or heavy) weight.
You need something that’s going to be durable and sturdy, so thick cardstock is the way to go. The best cardstock weights range from 100 to 110 lbs.
When it comes to ink options for handwritten notes, black tends to be the typical choice. It’s professional and easy to read on a white background. However, research shows that blue ink brings out the creative side of people, according to the University of British Columbia, which just might influence a consumer’s decision.
With the envelope, there are a couple of things to consider. First, the paper weight should be no less than 70 lbs. You don’t have to match the card stock weight, but you need a firm envelope that feels professional when held.
With envelopes, you also need to consider how you’ll be addressing them. Handwritten notes are worthless if not paired with handwritten envelopes. Printed envelopes with handwritten notes come with the immediate first impression: “Here’s another advertisement trying to look authentic.”
Falling along the same lines as the handwritten envelope, the only proper postage for a handwritten note is an everyday, straight from the post office, Forever stamp. This little gesture tells the recipient that someone stuck the stamp onto the envelope, so it must be real. Printed postage immediately reveals to the recipient that this is a marketing attempt.
- Convincing Handwriting
In today’s AI-driven world, what’s the gold standard for handwriting with handwritten notes? We’ve found the best options are authentic looking and written in real pen, not printed. Though printed handwritten typefaces do come with some advantages. “…handwritten typefaces create perceptions of human presence, which lead to more favorable product evaluations (and behavior) by enhancing the emotional attachment between the consumer and the product,” according to the Journal of Consumer Research.
We also found that “a handwritten thank you note at the bottom of [a] letter… increased response rates by nearly 41%,” according to the American Journal of Public Health. You can imagine the impact of a handwritten note that’s not a typeface.
And, it’s not just about the handwritten note looking authentic. “…handwritten characters are more likely to be retained in memory than typefaces,” said the International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction.
Furthermore, research shows handwritten communication elicits the reciprocity effect. They make the recipient feel as though they are obligated to return communication and that’s exactly what handwritten notes in marketing are all about.
Another thing to remember is that human handwriting isn’t perfect. There are ink dots, spacing differences and other flaws that function as tell-tale signs that the handwritten note was, indeed, written by a human. Always look for notes that incorporate:
- Natural handwriting style.
- Noticeable errors.
- Flaws in spacing.
- Noticeable pen imprint.
Fast Turnaround Time
Fast turnaround time is important in marketing. First, it allows you to quickly create content that is relevant to current events or trends. This can help you capitalize on timely opportunities and increase your visibility.
Additionally, a fast turnaround time can help you more easily adjust your marketing strategy if you need to make changes based on feedback or new data.
Finally, having a fast turnaround time simply shows that you are organized and efficient, which can give your brand a positive boost in the eyes of potential clients.
If you’re thinking about attempting a handwritten notes campaign on your own, you’ve got an uphill battle in front of you. If you’re lucky, considering all things, you might be able to write five or six notes an hour. It would take weeks to send out 200, 300, 500 notes or more.
The answer is a handwritten notes service. We won’t go into detail about services here, but suffice it to say not all options available today are created equal. They don’t all offer the support the client deserves. Remember “… customer support is no less important than sales or marketing because it serves as a direct connection channel between your business and its customers,” says Paldesk.
Three contacts you should never compromise on with a handwritten notes service include:
- Account manager
- Upper-level management
Personalization & Customization
There’s no shortage of information and research about the impact of personalization and customization on marketing effectiveness. Martech.org says, “74% of marketing leaders say they struggle to scale their personalization efforts, according to a Gartner survey. What’s more, that same data suggests brands may risk losing 38% of customers due to poor personalization.” They go on to say, “customers want to be treated as individuals, not as users, accounts, or prospects.”
Now, some businesses think they’re doing a great job personalizing the consumer experience, but research says otherwise. According to Twilio’s State of Personalization survey, “… 85% of the businesses studied by Twilio Segment believe they are offering personalized experiences, only 60% of consumers seem to think that’s the case.”
Mailchimp makes a great point about personalized marketing. “When you deliver a personalized experience to a customer, it tells them that you understand their pain points. It makes their whole customer journey easier and it transforms the buying process from a transaction into a relationship. As you build that relationship, the customer learns to trust your recommendations and will be more likely to go to you when they have a need you can meet.”
AB Testing Option
AB testing is a method of scientific experimentation that is used to compare two or more versions of a product or experience to determine which version is more effective. This type of testing allows businesses to make data-driven decisions about how to improve their marketing.
AB testing is typically done by randomly assigning users to different versions of the handwritten note and then measuring how those users interact with it. The goal is to find the version that provides the best user experience, conversion rate, or other desired metric. “A/B testing can be valuable because different audiences behave, well, differently. Something that works for one [audience] may not necessarily work for another,” shares Hubspot.
But, how do you track handwritten notes sent at scale? QR codes.
Handwritten notes are more effective than just about any other type of marketing, but they’re even more effective if you can learn how to improve them with AB testing. QR codes are the top of the line when it comes to testing handwritten marketing results.
A QR (Quick Response) code is a two-dimensional barcode that can be read by smartphones and other devices. A QR code contains information that can be quickly accessed by scanning the code. They are often used to provide easy access to websites, files and other resources. They can also be used to share contact information. QR codes are becoming increasingly popular as a means of providing quick and easy access to information.
When QR codes on handwritten notes are scanned, the scan is tracked so you know exactly how many people and who, interacted with your marketing message. If few people scanned the code, the note may need a refresh. If tons of people scanned the QR code, but few respond, you know exactly who to hit with a second handwritten marketing note.
To use this functionality at scale, the handwritten notes service you choose needs to offer note tracking.
“Modern customers occupy dozens of media channels — from social media sites, to apps, to online search engines and more. Reaching those customers means maintaining a presence across all media channels and converting them means providing a consistent customer experience,” according to Salesforce.
Omnichannel marketing is a term for a strategy that enables a company to interact with consumers across all communication channels, including online, offline and mobile. So instead of having different campaigns and separate interactions for each channel, omnichannel marketing allows you to create a single experience that spans all channels. The goal of omnichannel marketing is to provide a seamless consumer experience that gives them the flexibility to interact with your brand however they prefer.
What does that look like with handwritten notes?
Omnichannel marketing works best when you partner with a full-service handwritten notes company that provides “other” means of contact beyond the mail. Imagine this.
A business sends handwritten notes to 500 prospects. The service they used offers to enrich the contact data with email addresses and social media handles. So, a couple of days after the notes are sent, the business sends an email with the subject line, “Did you receive my handwritten note?” In the meantime, they find the recipient on a social media site like LinkedIn, based on information provided by the notes service and connect with them.
This is the basic start of omnichannel marketing. Not only did the business use direct mail marketing, but they also used email marketing and social media marketing. Essentially, the business is showing up where the people are, which nearly instantly breeds familiarity and trust.
Benefits of Handwritten Notes
Handwritten notes in marketing can be a great way to connect with your target audience on a personal level. By taking the time to write out a handwritten note, you are showing that you truly care about your customers and their business. In today’s digital world, people are often bombarded with marketing messages from every direction. A handwritten note can help your business stand out from the noise and make an impact.
There are numerous benefits to using handwritten notes in marketing. When you take the time to write out a handwritten note, you are showing that you value them as individuals and not just as potential buyers. This can go a long way in developing loyalty, but let’s get a little more specific.
- Build relationships with written word.
There’s no question that handwritten notes help build relationships – they’re personal, tactile and thoughtful. In a digital age where so much communication is done electronically, handwriting stands out as something distinctive and unique.
Handwritten notes show that you took the time to sit down, put pen to paper and thoughtfully compose a message just for the person you’re writing to. It communicates that you care about them and want to keep the relationship strong. Plus, who doesn’t love getting mail? Receiving a handwritten note is always a special treat!
- Stand out from the crowd with handwritten notes.
Handwritten notes help you stand out from the crowd because they are different. Every time you write a note, it’s like you’re sending a custom-made message just to that one person. By handwriting something for them, you demonstrate that you took the time to think about them.
And since most people these days don’t bother with handwritten notes, it stands out and makes an impression. Plus, handwritten notes have a distinctly more personal touch to them than typed or emailed messages.
- Boost customer confidence with personal communication.
There’s something about handwritten notes that just exudes confidence. Perhaps it’s the way that the pen leaves a physical mark on the paper, or maybe it’s the fact that handwritten notes are intimate and individual. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that handwritten notes give off an air of authority and expertise.
And when it comes to customers, that extra dose of confidence can make all the difference. If they’re on the fence about making a purchase, a well-written note can tip them over into the “buy” column. On the other hand, a hastily scribbled message can leave them feeling unsure and unimpressed.
- Build a customer base and improve consumer loyalty.
Handwritten notes are an effective way to build a customer base because they show that you’re taking the time to personalize your interactions with consumers.
When you take the time to write a handwritten note, it shows that you care about the recipient and that you appreciate their business. It also makes them feel special and special treatment is one of the best ways to get someone to come back again and again.
So if you want to build a strong customer base, handwritten notes are the way to go.
Along those same lines, handwritten notes are a great way to surprise and delight customers, which can lead to increased customer loyalty.
Handwritten notes show that you took the time to connect with the customer, which is a rare gesture in today’s digital age. They also stand out in a sea of automated emails and form responses, so customers will appreciate the effort you put into writing them.
Finally, handwritten notes are more memorable than digital messages, so customers are more likely to remember your brand and what you stood for.
- Connect with the target audience to increase response rates.
The 90% open and read rate for handwritten notes means a lot, but what’s even more impressive is the average response rate. Based on real-world examples, the response rate is 20%+, according to marketing company Digital Dog Direct. Compare that to a response rate of around 1 to 2% for printed direct mail marketing and you can see why handwritten notes are the gold standard.
Increasing response rates in marketing is important because it allows companies to obtain feedback from their target audiences more efficiently and effectively. By understanding how customers react to various marketing stimuli, companies can adjust their strategies accordingly to maximize the impact of their campaigns. Additionally, higher response rates can lead to improved customer relationships and increased brand loyalty.
- Strengthen your brand.
Connection, personalization and human interaction are the driving forces behind increases in brand strength for companies using handwritten notes. A strong brand is one that customers can rely on to consistently deliver quality products or services. Brand strength is built over time, through customer experience and positive word-of-mouth.
In today’s fragmented media landscape, it’s more important than ever for brands to work hard to stand out and build trust with their customers. There are several ways companies can do this, but some of the most effective methods include staying true to your brand values, investing in branded content and using direct mail marketing effectively.
When done right, strengthening your brand can lead to increased customer loyalty, higher rates of customer satisfaction and overall business growth.
- Increased return on investment (ROI) because notes get opened.
In business, the return on investment (ROI) or rate of return (ROR) is a performance metric used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment. The ROI is calculated as the benefit of an investment divided by the cost of the investment and it measures how much money is made or saved concerning how much money was invested.
“Direct mail does have printing and shipping costs, but the ROI is enough to outweigh those expenses. 60% of marketers say direct mail has the highest ROI of their marketing channels,” says Lob.
- Improve motivation response rates.
A motivation response in marketing is when a consumer is motivated to take the desired action, such as buying a product or service. Many factors can affect a consumer’s motivation, including needs, wants, desires, perceptions and attitudes.
Marketing professionals work hard to create motivating messages and images that will persuade consumers. It’s essential to create an emotional connection with potential buyers and tap into their desires so that they feel compelled to act.
“Direct mail is far more persuasive than digital media. Its motivation response is 20% higher – even more so if it appeals to more senses beyond touch,” reveals trueImpact.
Handwritten notes also help you:
- Break through to cold prospects.
- Follow up after meetings.
- Motivate prospects to sign contracts.
- Welcome new customers.
- Reward high-value customers.
- Reactivate dormant customers.
- Celebrate milestones.
- Give thanks for referrals.
- Warm up leads before trade shows.
- Follow up after trade shows.
- Say thanks for a donation.
- Commend, console & thank employees.
- Ease the aftermath of a tough meeting.
- Drive upsells and cross-sells.
- Share promo codes.
- Recover abandoned carts.
- Invite to events and webinars.
- Trigger drip sequences from sales reps.
- Include a gift card with any note.
- Send holiday greetings.
With all that, we now know exactly what to look for in handwritten notes and why they’re so effective, but how do you know who to send them to?
Choose the Best Target Audience
A target audience is a group of people that a company or organization aims to appeal to with its products or services. Businesses need to identify their target audience so that they can create messaging and marketing campaigns that resonate with those people.
Some factors that a company might consider when trying to identify its target audience include demographic information (e.g., age, sex, income level), psychographic information (e.g., interests, values) and behavioral information (e.g., how often they buy products/services). Once a business has this information, it can craft marketing messages and strategies that are more likely to persuade the target audience to buy its products or services.
There are several good reasons to choose your target audience carefully. By doing so, you can ensure that you are:
- Reaching the right people: You want to make sure that you are reaching people who are interested in what you’ve to say. If you’re writing about a specific niche topic, then it’s important to target an audience that is interested in that topic. Otherwise, you risk alienation and boredom.
- Bonding with your audience: It’s important to choose an audience you can bond with and build relationships with over time. If you share common interests and values, then it will be easier to connect with them on a personal level. This is essential for developing a strong relationship with your audience.
There are a few key ways to go about finding your target audience through market research. First, you’ll want to consider who your product or service is for and what needs and wants they have that your business can address. From there, you can begin to look at demographics like age, location, gender and income level to get a better understanding of who your target market might be.
Once you have a good understanding of the general characteristics of your target market, you can start to get more specific by looking at things like psychographics (lifestyle choices, values, attitudes) and behaviors (media consumption habits, shopping habits). This type of information can help you start to zero in on who your ideal customer is.
Demographics and Psychographics
Demographics can be used to understand your target audience in a general way by looking at population statistics, but it’s usually not enough to identify your specific target audience. To do that, you need to go beyond demographics and understand the psychographics of your target audience.
Psychographics is the study of people’s attitudes, opinions, behaviors and lifestyles. It includes information about a person’s interests, values and passions. This data can help you understand what motivates your target audience and how they think. Armed with this information, you can then create marketing messages that resonate with them and inspire them to take action.
A customer pain point is an annoyance or difficulty that a customer experiences when trying to interact with or purchase from a company.
Some common customer pain points include long wait times on the phone, being transferred multiple times, being put on hold for a long time, having to fill out too many forms and not being able to find what they are looking for on the company website.
Solving customer pain points is essential for keeping customers happy and retaining their business. Companies should constantly be evaluating their processes and making changes to improve the customer experience. Even with handwritten notes.
Customer pain points in handwritten note marketing may involve:
- Handwriting clarity, style, thickness, etc…
- Card size and quality.
- Script wording.
- Call to action wording.
3 Things to Never Forget When Using Handwritten Notes
- Word count.
Ideally, your handwritten note should be around 100 words long, or around 600 characters. This will give you enough space to say something meaningful without taking up too much of the recipient’s time. Keep it short and sweet and they’ll be sure to appreciate your effort!
- Grammar & spelling.
Grammar and spelling are important in handwritten notes not just for marketing, but for any sort of written communication. Good grammar and spelling show that you are professional and competent and that you care about the quality of your work. Bad grammar or spelling can make it difficult for people to understand what you’re trying to say, which can reflect poorly on you and your business. In marketing specifically, good grammar and spelling can help give your company a more polished and credible image.
- Call to action.
The success of any handwritten marketing campaign depends on getting recipients to take action. This is known as a call to action and it needs to be included in every handwritten note you send out. Without a call to action, recipients may not know what you want them to do, or they may not have the motivation to act. Including a call to action ensures that your message is clear and that recipients have the information they need to take the next step.
Research on Direct Mail Marketing
We can talk all day about handwritten notes and all the aspects that surround them, but the research out there on direct mail marketing and handwritten notes marketing abounds.
Physical advertising is more effective than digital advertising.
In this study, “physical advertisements were proven to have more influence than digital ads in a number of ways. Not only did participants spend more time with physical ads, they also remembered them more quickly and confidently. Physical ads also elicited a stronger emotional response than their digital counterparts and, overall, had a longer-lasting impact. Looking at brain activity, researchers discovered that participants showed a greater subconscious valuation and desire for products or services advertised in a physical format.”
Go Inspire Study – RetailWire
People keep direct mail 43,200% more time than an email is viewed.
A study by UK-based business Go Inspire Group found direct mail marketing has “a long shelf-life (17 days versus two-second email views), improved branding and message-retention, as well as being less likely to be viewed as spam. Direct mail was found to outperform email in terms of incremental revenue after campaign costs, but a combination of email and direct mail outperformed either medium in isolation.” Remember omnichannel marketing?
Sequel Response – Response Rate Report
Direct mail has the highest overall return on investment (ROI).
“Direct mail ROI is the strongest with letter-size mail, outperforming all other marketing media and reporting the highest average ROI of 112% when sent to prospect lists. SMS follows with an ROI of 102%, while email to prospect lists rounds out the top three with a 93% ROI.”
“… 75% of Millennials say receiving mail makes them feel special.”
Millennials are just as tired of the bombardment of digital media as everyone else. The trouble is, many marketers consider this age group as an “online-only” crowd so they don’t target them with direct mail.
Handwritten postcards generate a 180-fold conversion advantage.
A Florida-based college sent 5000 people handwritten notes and kept 5000 additional as a control group. “The control group that didn’t receive the handwritten postcard had a 2.86% enrollment rate. The other half that received the handwritten postcard had a 3.13% response rate. That 9% increase in student enrollment generated a 180% increase in inquiry to student conversions.”
Final Word on Handwritten Notes
In a world that is increasingly driven by technology, handwritten notes can seem like a relic of the past. However, when it comes to marketing, handwritten notes may be the best option available. Unlike mass-produced emails or generic form letters, handwritten notes provide a personal touch that can make a big impression.
Recipients can tell that you’ve taken the time to write out a message specifically for them and this can foster a sense of goodwill. In addition, handwritten notes show that you are willing to go the extra mile for your customers or clients. In a competitive marketplace, this kind of personal touch can make all the difference. For these reasons and many more, handwritten notes should be a key part of your marketing plan.