How to make your brand messages cut through

How can you cut through the noise and engage an audience with a message that’s memorable and inspires action?

Mail cuts through

The exact figures will vary from individual to individual, but there’s no doubt we are all exposed to a vast and growing number of advertising messages every day. Some estimates put the number at between 4,000 and 10,0001

Much of this is down to the increasing amount of time we spend in front of our screens, with an Ofcom 2018 study2 showing 88% of adults are online for 24 hours a week, the equivalent of a whole day. Truly, we live in a media-saturated society. 

According to the IPA Touchpoints3 figures, the average British adult consumes 8 hours and 11 minutes of media a day, often while carrying out other tasks 

Mail stands out

The result of this is that consumers increasingly experience advertising blindness, while some — via ad blockers — take active measures to avoid commercial messages. It’s therefore simply harder and harder for advertisers to stand out amongst the clutter.

Increasingly, therefore, advertisers have to find a way to cut through the noise, to gain attention, be remembered and, ultimately, drive action from consumers.

The Appliance of Neuroscience 

So how can you cut through the noise and engage an audience with a message that’s memorable and inspires action? Could mail help marketers with this challenge?

It can. Last year we turned to neuro-marketing experts Neuro-Insight to understand how consumers respond subconsciously to physical and digital media, how they process brand messages, and how different media contribute to memorability.

Here’s a quick bit on the science and the study. Neuro-Insight fitted 114 participants, aged 18 to 70 and evenly split by gender, with visors and headsets that picked up their brain responses as they viewed different media and advertising messages in their home settings.

Each participant looked at mail (yes, actual physical stuff), email and social media advertising. 

The aim was to capture the long-term memory encoding effects of the different media. This is the key metric because it measures the strength of how a stimulus converts into a long-term memory.

For marketers, long-term memory encoding is significant because it correlates with decision making and directly links to purchase intent. It is both an enabler and a predictor of future action. 

Physicality and memorability 

Mail is remembered more than email

For mail advertisers, the results offer genuine encouragement. Mail had by far the largest impact on long-term memory encoding, 49% stronger than email and +35% more than social media advertising4.

Part of this, we believe, is a simple matter of physicality. In an increasingly virtual age, mail’s tactility helps it stand out. Something you can touch, feel, hand to another person or display is likely to have greater impact.

But there’s more to it than just physicality.

Mail advertisers, for example, are also likely to be focused on timeliness and 
relevance to the recipient. The more relevant something is the more personal it is, and the more the recipient is likely to feel valued. As a result, we are more likely to pay attention to and remember it.

Certainly, this reinforces the results of a quantitative study we carried out with Kantar, where 65% of mail recipients said they were likely to give mail their full atten-tion, compared with just 35% for email5.

Mail drives actions 

The Neuro-Insight study shows us that, by cutting through the clutter, mail achieves the long-term memorability that is the starting point of any advertiser activity.

From our previous research and through JICMAIL (the Joint Industry Committee for Mail), an independent body that measures mail performance, we also know that mail also meets other key channel criteria for advertisers. 

Mail is trusted, with 87% of recipients saying mail is believable, compared to 48% for email6.

It reaches every household in the UK. 

And mail drives commercial actions, with the IPA’s Touchpoints study reporting that 37% of mail recipients bought or ordered something in the previous 12 months as a result of receiving mail7.

37% of people ordered something as a result of mail

To find out more about mail’s powerful impact on our memory and how it could help to make your messages cut through, download our free neuroscience report from here:

Get the free neuroscience report


1.    How to Cut through the Noise and Connect with Customers, [24], American Marketing Association, 2018.
2.    Ofcom, Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report, 2018.
3.    IPA Touchpoints, 2018.
4.    Royal Mail MarketReach. Neuro-Insight, 2018.
5.    Royal Mail MarketReach, Kantar TNS, 2017.
6.    Royal Mail MarketReach, The Value of Mail in Uncertain Times, Kantar TNS, 2017.
7.    IPA Touchpoints, 2017.