Stasis in Direct Mail Formats . . . An Opportunity?

By | June 13, 2016

Mintel Comperemedia, which aggregates and analyzes direct mail data from around the industry, recently did an assessment of direct mail over a three-year period.  It looked at estimated mail volume, use of digital response mechanisms, and spend across nine sectors.

The report, titled “Trends in Direct Mail and Digital Integration,” has one overarching theme—stasis. Considering the rapid change in the marketing environment, I find this curious. I also wonder if this is an untapped opportunity for MSPs.

“From Q4 2012 to present, there have been few noticeable changes in direct mail volumes, spend, or mail type used across sectors,” the report notes. “Most sectors have experienced steady growth or have remained stagnant.” The exceptions are mortgage and loans, which has shown the most growth, and the insurance and credit card sectors, where there has been a steady fluctuation.

Direct Mail FormatsThe next few charts are, frankly, not very interesting. “Direct Mail Volumes by Sector” looks like a set of nine fairly parallel lines (one for each sector). “Direct Mail Spend” looks about the same.

But what surprised me was that this trend persisted even among direct mail type. In “Direct Mail Used Across Sectors” (above), each sector showed its own breakdown of self-mailer, postcard, letter + envelope, catalog, and other, but within each sector, that mix hasn’t changed much either.

The question is why? Three years is a long time in the marketing world. Technology is changing. Consumer expectations are changing. How consumers interact with each marketing channel is changing. I’m all for direct mail spending and volumes remaining steady, but why isn’t the direct mail type mix changing? There are two possibilities.

  1. Consumers really aren’t changing and this mix continues to be the right mix.
  2. Marketers aren’t testing their direct mail mix and are assuming that the mix they have used in the past is still the right mix today, even if it’s not.

As an MSP, this presents a tremendous opportunity to ask questions. What is your direct mail mix right now? When was the last time you did some testing to find out which formats were working best for you? If it’s been awhile, what might be gained by doing some testing to optimize that mix for the current marketing environment?

Use this chart as a springboard. It’s an excuse for a phone call and an excuse to start asking questions—and offering solutions.

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