8 Key Trends & Insights for Direct Mail in 2021
The economy, civil unrest, political strife, and the ongoing pandemic has changed so much
about our lives this past year, so how has direct mail marketing responded?
Here are 8 trends and insights that Who’s Mailing What! shared after participating in the Variable Data Print and Mail Summit:
Postcards Gain Popularity
The use of postcards over the past 12 years has been steadily increasing. Two main reasons are higher postage and paper costs and a shift in how much people read mail or prefer to navigate online for more information.
As postcards gain in popularity, brands are using envelope/letter packages an average of 15% less frequently and self-mailers dropped an average of 16% across all industries.
Over the last 20 years word count changes in direct mail copy for all formats has become shorter by 62%. Shorter sentences, smaller paragraphs and bullet points are used to keep the reader’s attention.
Business Reply Mail Is Getting Less Popular
Even though Business Reply Mail is still considered an effective device, 53% of companies are no longer sending them. Marketers should always consider your target audience and try testing packages with and without a BRE.
Not all audiences are comfortable responding to an offer by going online. They may appreciate the security and convenience of using an envelope provided for them for making charitable donations or returning an insurance application.
Eco Friendly Trends in Direct Mail
It’s vital for brands to show responsible environmental practices through green message words and phrases in their direct mail efforts. Environmental and sustainability challenges are especially important to the socially conscious Millennials and Generation Z.
Companies that speak to these generations will be more successful as their economic power grows. In fact, a poll conducted by Forbes showed that 88% of consumers prefer to support brands that have social causes aligned with their product/service.
It’s crucial to educate consumers about how mail can still be a responsible and sustainable choice for marketing communications. In the past year, the top eco words and phrases have been:
- Responsible Sources – refers to waste products, such as wood chips, sawmill scraps, and recycled paper used in manufacturing of paper products
- FSC – Forest Stewardship Council is a multinational industry group that sets standards for forest products and independently certifies that these standards have been met
- Please Recycle
- Recycled Paper
Triggered Direct Mail
Technological advancements have given businesses the ability to deliver personalized, highly relevant physical messages to prospects at home using digital-level automation with ease.
There are endless trigger variations depending on your business’s goals. Some triggers nurture leads by moving prospects through the sales pipeline and function similarly to online retargeting. For example:
- A website visitor fills out a form on your website that triggers an automated mailer
- A website visitor abandons their online shopping cart, which triggers a postcard with an image of the product and a discount to entice them back to complete their order.
Other lead-generating triggers activate by offline activity. Your business can take advantage of changes that come with certain life events, such as new movers or insurance policy expiration dates.
Customer relationship-based triggers build loyalty and encourage customers to reorder. This type of marketing is sometimes referred to as account-based marketing. Basically, you’re using available data and collected personal information for mailings, such as birthdays, thank you mailings, reactivation.
Trigger-based mailings have many applications for any industry. Medical industries use trigger-based mailers to remind patients to return for checkups. Seasonally driven industries — like many home servicing businesses — use inactivity triggers to remind clients to keep up with their homes, like a pool cleaning in summer or a heater tune-up in winter. Age-based triggers are beneficial for after-school activities like dance or karate classes.
Interactive Direct Mail
It is a best practice to give consumers many options to interact with you and respond to your offer. Interactive direct mail helps you do that by connecting with consumers, across multiple channels, to generate higher engagement and response. QR codes with embedded URLs directing consumers to a website, text or image and the use of social media profiles has doubled in direct mail over the last 4 years.
The top 3 industries leveraging interactive elements are:
- Financial Services
Augmented Reality incorporates a visual trigger in your mail piece that the customer can activate with any smartphone camera and the AR app. The effect? Interactive experiences that bring vivid dimension, movement, and power to your product.
AR has been around for some time and is mainly used for B2C to amplify brand recognition. The interactive direct mail experience can be scanned from anywhere, as long as the consumer has downloaded the app.
There are many applications for AR in marketing campaigns:
- Link images directly to an online store that lets customers shop directly
- Provide product demos
- Show multidimensional product views
- Social sharing
- Provide “try-before-you-buy” scenarios for retailers, furniture stores
AR is ever evolving, and has a number of interactive direct mail advantages, including:
- AR is far more visually appealing than a QR code. AR can be seamlessly incorporated into your design elements – like a logo or a photo.
- AR involves setting a marker – like a logo. Unlike QR codes, the linked information can be updated as needed and viewed across multiple touchpoints.
- AR has the ability to track the number of scans, visitor locations and even phone carriers.
- AR allows for 3D integration and various video styles for a more immersive experience.
- AR is fully supported via the ACTIV8AR app, which is managed by a dedicated team.
Informed Delivery enables campaigns to generate more consumer impressions, interactions, and insights by sending consumers a daily email with a digital preview of their mail.
The USPS uses the technology of its automated mail sorting equipment to digitally image mail. Then provides the 30+ million ID residential users with these images prior to delivery so they know what content is coming, before it actually hits the mailbox. Informed Delivery is a free notification feature for residents in a majority of zip code locations across the country.
Consumers receive emails to the email address in their personal USPS.com® account containing grayscale images of the exterior, address side of up to 10 pieces of incoming letter-sized mail that is arriving soon.
Brands can tap into this interactive direct mail technology to enhance product offerings or drive traffic to stores or websites. Links to landing pages, video messages, social media accounts and other marketing channels can be integrated increasing exposure and enhancing results.
Integrating channels makes sense more than ever before. Testing new technologies will help direct mail thrive as a vital part of your customer outreach strategy. The GRI Marketing Group is a direct and digital agency in business for over 30 years helping clients of all sizes achieve their goals. Please contact us if you would like more information.