An often-circulated cartoon shows two panels: in the first, a newly minted internet user is seen excitedly opening their inbox to see that they have email. In contrast, they are unexcited by the stack of junk mail outside. Fast forward to the present day and the user is shown drearily looking through an inbox with hundreds of unread emails. Walking outside, they are overjoyed to see a piece of physical mail that is just for them.

A recent market research study found that the average individual receives a dizzying 90 emails per day. Only a fraction of those are ever read. How can anyone be expected to go through them all and feel as excited about the contents of the 89th one as they were about the first?

With the ubiquity of email, snail mail has become the more exciting medium. A letter or envelope has physical weight. Opening up an interesting piece can get customers far more excited than any piece of email. And, customers respond. According to the Data & Marketing Association, over 2.5 billion mailed coupons were used in 2015.

It is true that direct mail volume has declined. However, instead of seeing this as a signpost, savvy marketers are seeing it as an opportunity: with less direct mail landing in consumers’ mailboxes, it becomes easier to stand out.

A few of the ways to make direct mail work for you in 2017:

  • Segment your lists. Make sure that you are sending exactly the right communication to the right person. Studies show that careful segmentation can lead to a higher conversion rate, significantly cutting your cost per customer. As postage rates continue to rise, this is imperative.
  • Personalize your offerings. You are more likely to get someone to open a piece of mail that is addressed to them by name than one that is addressed to “resident” or even “our neighbor.”
  • Add visual and tactile interest. Consider using unusual envelope sizes. Use bright colors that will catch your recipient’s eye as soon as she opens the box. Pick different paper weights and textures.
  • Give them a few things to open. Envelopes inside of envelopes give someone something to do with their hands, increasing the time they spend interacting with your direct mail piece.
  • Include an offer and make it trackable. Custom URLs and coupon codes can give you more information about why someone responded to your offer and what they chose to buy. This information can help you A/B test and craft more effective offerings.

As it gets harder to be heard over the digital noise, direct mail becomes a more important part of the marketing mix. By including it as part of multi-channel campaigns, you can increase awareness, engagement and conversions.