Many consumers prefer physical mail to e-mail for bills, invoices, financial statements and catalogs, according to an open rate study conducted by Pitney Bowes. Pitney Bowes commissioned Leflein Associates to survey approximately 1,500 US adults and examine their preferences, attitudes and behavior toward mail, both physical and e-mail. The study also investigated which factors influence when and whether recipients open their mail and read it at home. Pitney Bowes plans to use the study to help its customers improve communications to their own customers. Physical mail can be more appealing to consumers than e-mail for a variety of reasons, according to Tim Troast, manager of marketing, mail finishing solutions, US mailing for Pitney Bowes. “There is a tangibility to receiving a physical piece of mail,” Troast said, adding that physical mail can also be more interactive as well as more personal than electronic communications. The consumers surveyed for the study indicated a broad preference for physical mail, with 66% of respondents saying they prefer to receive catalogs by physical mail, 61% preferring to receive bills and invoices by physical mail and 59% preferring to receive financial/bank statements by physical mail. Rather than reflecting the superiority of one method of communication over another, these findings indicate the need for companies to communicate with customers via their preferred channel of delivery. “The key is not looking at one medium of communication to get your message out there because there is a right delivery mechanism” for every one, said Troast. Matching customers with the right method of communication can have a positive effect on mailings. “If you can tailor the message to the preferred method of communication for the customer, they will react in a quicker manner,” said Karen D'Andrea, director of product marketing, US mailing for Pitney Bowes. D’Andrea pointed to a couple of findings from the study in support of this statement: 83% of respondents said they would open and read bills right away and 73% said they would open and read financial/bank statements right away. Many mailers are already testing a variety of methods for communicating with their customers, which is reflected in an overall decline in mail volume. However, as the Pitney Bowes study indicates, mail still plays a role. “I think companies are learning, particularly as we go through these past couple of years and budgets have been a little tighter, that mail is still a very relevant and powerful tool in the marketing mix,” said D’Andrea.