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2021 Direct Mail Trends & Opportunities


Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "2021 Direct Mail Trends & Opportunities - Update," revisits direct mail marketing trends and the industries most likely to flourish during the ongoing pandemic.  Now that a new administration is in full operation, coupled with record-breaking numbers of vaccinations, we are nonetheless grappling with a raging pandemic currently producing several mutations or "variants."  We also have a challenging economy now bolstered by the $1.9 trillion COVID Relief Bill, which will help many businesses.  That said, we also continue to deal with new postal service policies that will further impact mail delivery schedules.

In addition, most marketing and economic experts agree that 2020 was one of the most challenging periods to navigate in our nation's history, particularly concerning changes in postal service operations.  Nevertheless, brands and marketers continue to use direct mail to augment email marketing and social media advertising.  Unemployment numbers continue to pose a challenge as the new administration focuses on ensuring that capital finds its way into the economy, notably in the sectors in need of recovery the most.  Further, capital injections should flow to areas where new opportunities can emerge.  Besides, given that the nation may face another shelter in place directive in the coming weeks or months, we know that people will continue to spend more time on the web, thus crowding and slowing online performance.  To that end, marketers and brands understand that direct mail can improve digital and other marketing initiatives. 

Quote of the Day: "You can waste your lives drawing lines. Or you can live your life crossing them." - Shonda Rhimes

In our quest to overcome the obstacles set before us, it is imperative to look at logical approaches to find or create opportunities staring us in the face.  Coupled with the motivation to succeed and the determination to meet and overcome any challenge, we can grow and reimagine our brand's value proposition.

State of the Postal System

According to the USPS, overall mail volume, while down, made a comeback and eradicated some of the losses from 2020.  As you may imagine, the overwhelming requirement of package delivery spurned by the surge of e-commerce usage blunted the postal service bleeding and has proven to bolster mail revenue. 

 The good news is that the new administration changes to the postal service should address long-term issues.  Any resulting changes will likely become USPS policy and benefit the mail sector.

Direct Mail Lives On

Marketers should understand that direct mail marketing continues to be one of the most effective marketing mediums available, particularly when it comes to trustworthiness.  Consider consumer behavior when it comes to reading and responding to breaking news.  When news is breaking on digital outlets, folks will either (1) Reference other digital news sites to ascertain the veracity of that news, or (2) Trust that the story is reliable, coming from a traditional news source that also has a digital arm, and therefore trustworthy.

Have you noticed that your physical mailbox has become more active because you receive more direct mail pieces than usual?  That's part of the direct mail trend.  Advertisers learned that getting folks to respond in the digital universe is challenging due to the pandemic and requires more ad placements than ordinary circumstances.  Reachability has led many marketers to incorporate direct mail into the marketing mix.


Direct mail technology has kept pace with digital technological advancements.  The technology behind variable digital printing (VDP), along with a host of data points, now factor into unique customer profiles.  In addition to sort lists, there is a plethora of information to slice and dice.  For example, demographic, behavioral, attitudinal, lifestyle, life-stage, and psychographic data contribute to the message.  Data can pinpoint variables that make direct mail pieces incredibly personal, certainly beyond first and last name introductions. VDP allows changes to call-to-action, graphics, text, offers, colors, language, and more within a single print job.

Note: Due to the overall challenges the postal service is experiencing, it would make good sense to use postcards for marketing, as they are lighter, smaller, more cost-efficient, and will ensure that digital destinations reap the rewards of high response engagement rates seen in direct mail readership. Depending on the marketing goal, it is also important to remember that letter size envelopes have a significant impact on the mail marketing universe as well. 

2021 USPS Promotions

The USPS typically has an array of promotions that businesses can take advantage of throughout the year.  We contend that everyone, large and small enterprises, should take advantage of any USPS special discounts.  The USPS offers a complete discount program that provides mailers a 2% discount for electing to utilize new and emerging marketing and print mail technologies.  In 2021, USPS mail promotions include:

  • Informed Delivery
  • Mobile Shopping
  • Earned Value Reply Mail
  • Personal Color Transpromo
  • Tactile, Sensory, and Interactive Engagement
  • Emerging and Advanced Technology

While these promotions will continue, it is a good idea to keep an eye on new USPS promotions.  However, suppose you engage a full-service commercial print vendor that provides in-house direct mail capability.  In that case, qualified vendors can obtain those discounts for any direct marketing initiatives, thus alleviating the need for continually checking the USPS postal discounts. 

The $68 Trillion Millennial Market 

Starting now and continuing over the next three decades, the entire planet will be witness to the largest wealth transfer in human history.  This transfer will see Millennials receive massive asset-holding stockpiles from Baby Boomers.  A new survey conducted by deVere Group supports an initiative that will erase the perception that Millennials are financially irresponsible.  Conversely, Baby Boomers intend to put that wealth behind the Millennials.

Nigel Green, deVere Group CEO, recently stated that the numbers associated with the so-called Great Wealth Transfer are "staggering." "According to some estimates, $68 trillion in wealth is to be passed down from the baby boomers – the wealthiest generation ever - to their children and other heirs over the next 30 years," Green said.

That wealth transfer process is already underway, and to that end, brands and marketers should start a concentrated effort to speak to millennials as the wealth generation.  As with any marketing initiative, strategy, tactic, or product deliverable, the first to market out of the gate generally wins, or at the very least, holds a primary marketing position. 

Personalization is Now a Must

The art of personalization is here to stay.  It is also becoming more robust than ever.  Postage costs are increasing, and those costs will be affected by new events, which is why 2021 will require brands and marketers to think smarter.  

VDP (Variable Data Printing) is the backbone behind personalization's one-to-one engagement.  The beauty of print technology is that the brand can include charts, images, text, graphics, offers, and more.  You can encapsulate the offer in whatever data the brand has available.  Research has shown that brands that amass more up-to-date data deliver direct mail recipients that engage and respond at higher levels. 

 When brands include direct mail marketing in the marketing mix, the brand can reimagine the strategy to focus on the most optimal performing segments, which will help campaigns be more personal and more customized. 

Personalization is where unique content becomes more relevant to every customer on the list.

  Opportunities Require Adapting. 

 As we look to an improved vaccine distribution, we anticipate a coordinated, wide-reaching federal response and distribution program.  Until that happens, we will likely have to contend with a sputtering, sluggish economy.  All of the preceding changes due to the pandemic, such as work from home, virtual conferences, including business communications, and the explosion of e-commerce, will continue robustly for some time.

Conversely, we must explore new opportunities that may require some adaptation but could prove to be valuable nonetheless.  For example, the real estate market has enjoyed historically low-interest rates, fueling a rise in marketing for real estate concerns, moving and packing companies, and home renovators. 

 When we look at opportunities, we should consider any service or product along the value chain that can impact your offerings.  That would be any place that is experiencing increased spending in direct mail, coupled with omnichannel efforts.  Some of the opportunities include:

  • Delivery and Shopping Services
  • Groceries
  • Automotive
  • Home Healthcare/Telehealth
  • Retail
  • Home Improvement

The Net-Net

We contend that marketers should take time to examine every aspect that involves instituting a cost-effective direct mail campaign.  The goal should be to integrate direct mail into any digital marketing mix.  Should you need an organization to partner for direct mail campaign planning to deliver VDP, printing, and mailing, contact Dove Direct. We would be pleased to work with you. Thanks for stopping by and taking a moment to read "2021 Direct Mail Trends & Opportunities - Update."

Let's have a conversation about integrated business solutions and how they can help grow your business, change behavior, and improve the customer experience.  Let us show you how to improve your document processes to optimize your workflow, reduce your costs, and maximize your organization's printing, letter shop, and mailing capabilities. Dove Direct does have an official USPS certified bureau located within our offices that will save you time and money. We can even create a demo file for you. 

For more information, call Carla Eubanks at 404-629-0122 or email Carla at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Dove Direct, your Atlanta based print and mail solutions provider, offers organizations end-to-end data, printing, and mailing solutions:

  • Data Management

  • Variable Digital Printing
  • Digital Scanning
Lettershop and Fulfillment

  • Fully Automated MLOCR Presort Bureau

  • Marketing and Production Management Support

  • Secure Data Life Cycle Management

If you don't want to wait, you can reach Dove Direct today by calling 404-629-0122 or use the Contact Form for Dove Direct.

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