It’s a question we ask at work whenever we’re faced with sending an important message: “Shall I fire off an email or pop a letter in the post?” In today’s fast-paced and busy world, we often turn to the quickest option. And yet a new study by Chartered Psychologists at London Metropolitan University has shown that the fastest option isn’t necessarily the best when it comes to communicating an important message.
The study, conducted for office experts Avery, found that letters often do a much more effective job of getting our important messages across than emails, and create a more positive impression of the sender.
The study looked at how different groups responded to an identical message when it was communicated by either email or letter. The results found that letters created more of a positive impact than emails, coming across as more personal and making the recipient feel more important. Those taking part in the study scored letters as typically 60% more engaging and 40% more trustworthy than emails that communicated the same message.
It’s not just what you say, but how you say it!
With the average office worker receiving 80 emails a day, the study has some very timely implications for the way we work. Only 15% of those taking part in the study said they carefully check their emails, with 85% stating they read the letters they receive more carefully. Sound familiar? Although an email might seem to be the quickest option for sending someone a message, it turns out that this is often actually a waste of time because the email is commonly deleted or not properly read. A whopping 95% said that letters appeared more ‘real’ to them and 80% thought letters were more persuasive than emails. Crucially, the study also found that we are 40% more likely to take action and respond positively to business propositions if they are communicated to us by letter rather than by email.
The study was led by Dr Simon Moore, a Chartered Psychologist at the British Psychological Society. He said:
“Letters have a positive halo effect in that they communicate much more than words alone do. Receiving a letter make us feel good and gives the impression that we’re important enough to spend time on. Of course, there are moments when an email is still going to be the right way of communicating, when speed and convenience are essential. But when we want to say something really important, to grab attention, to really persuade or motivate someone, this study shows that a letter can be a far more effective way of getting our message across.”
The study (full report at www.avery.co.uk/loveletters) also found that the look and feel of the envelope, the paper on which the letter is written or printed on, and the quality and presentation of the labels used for displaying information like addresses all help contribute to the impact a letter has.
Find out more at www.avery.co.uk/loveletters.