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How to Leverage Direct Mail Trends During Covid-19


Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog.  Today's post, "How to Leverage Direct Mail Trends During Covid-19," uncovers the latest direct mail marketing trends for 2021 and how brands and marketing teams can leverage those trends to increase the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns. Remember that famous tagline from the good ole days when Coca-Cola was all the rage? "Things Go Better With Coke," was the tagline that invaded the marketing scene back in 1964, taking hold and helping propel the Coca-Cola brand to a dominant position in the soft drink category.  Coke's tagline served as a great example of how to create brand mindshare.  If we fast forward to the here and now, recent trending data is behind an invisible tagline for print marketing, which does not exist, but could very well be, "Marketing Goes Better with Direct Mail."  In the age of big data and marketing performance statistics, direct mail marketing boosts any marketing scenario. Despite these boosts, many marketing strategies still fail to incorporate direct mail marketing into their overall marketing strategies.

Our Quote of the Day:  "If you want to build your online business, research shows that one of the best ways to do it is to use direct mail to drive prospects to your site. It's the combination of direct mail with an online presence that packs such a powerful marketing punch. Even Google, probably one of the iconic internet businesses, sends out direct mail campaigns." — Craig Simpson

Direct Mail's 2021 Forecast

As COVID-19 continues to dominate, many knowledge workers are keen to show an inclination to work from home, thus driving demand for in-home marketing; and, as a result, direct mail marketing will perhaps experience another stellar year throughout 2021!  Besides working from home, direct mail will conceivably be the most powerful tool for landing on the radar of consumers and prospects overwhelmed in the digital world while grappling with the invasion of sales emails and social media communications. 

The following excerpts represent trend marketers commenting on predictions and compiled data.

  • "Standard SDR outreach (phone, email, LinkedIn) and digital marketing investments alone can't drive exponential growth unless your company is in the right place at the right time.  Offline/direct mail will continue to increase as creativity and standing out becomes even more important in the sea of 'robospam,' and 10/80/10 outbound emails and LinkedIn touches. – Ray Carroll, VP of Sales, Skilljar.

  • "Personalization will become even more important.  No longer can you target your whole list with the same tactics.  In a time where trust is more important than ever, personalizing your outreach approach will help build that trust by showing prospects that you are willing to go above and beyond to get their attention.  That sets a great precedent on the first step of the larger customer experience." – Nicholas Price, Global Senior Manager of Content, Aircall.

  • "Direct mail and offline engagement will increase by 60% from 2020.  80% of SMB organizations will see direct mail and offline engagement as a must-have." – Alex Murcia, Sr. Field Marketing Manager, ForgeRock.

  • "I don't think we'll be seeing offline events in the form we saw them pre-COVID until maybe 2H 2021 at the earliest… Creative direct mail now is so unique and rare it stands out from the online noise." – Adam Tesan, CRO, Chargebee.

Those quote examples, of which there are tons available for consumption, suggest that marketers who are sidestepping direct mail as an integral part of their marketing mix should give direct mail another look.  The exorbitant amount of digital clutter has reached an undesirable peak.  Consumers are trashing many inbound email offers, preferring to use their online time more effectively and efficiently.

Personalization Has Reached New Levels

Direct mail marketing is a premier marketing tool that can drill down to personalized data due in no small part to cutting-edge printing technologies.  Digital printing presses can now accept data points, enabling print collateral output to include more than first and last names.  As stated in previous posts regarding this subject, digital printing presses can accommodate those points, regardless of the data.  These data points include demographics, psychographics, age, education levels, language preferences, ethnicities, purchasing habits, zip codes, regions, travel behavior, household income levels, and other data that can effectively be sliced and diced to hone in on targets.  In short, any data a marketing team is looking to focus on can be input into today's digital printing presses.

Leveraging Direct Mail Trends

How to leverage these direct mail trends requires a deeper look into the brands' marketing strategy.  For example, most brands use email marketing as a staple within the list of tactics, either as a stand-alone campaign or as part of the overall marketing mix.  Brands and marketers should understand that direct mail topples open email rates.

As much as 90% of direct mail gets opened, versus just 20-30% of emails.  All things being equal, the direct mail open rate has a 60% higher clip.  In addition, most will open a direct mail piece within the first thirty minutes on average.  Continuing this frame of thought, when one opens a direct mail piece in the home, those pieces are not competing with hundreds, if not thousands of email solicitations, on a digital device.  Further, since emails can include an automation bounce-back, those bounce backs can contain a variety of reasons, such as opened and not read, or not opened, or failing to click on the call to action, or clicking and then abandoning the offer, or failing to visit the intended site.

Therefore, it would make sense to manually send a direct mail piece to remind email users about the offer and redirect them to the digital destination or create an automated direct mail response for bounced back emails. In addition, it may make better sense to start with a direct mail introduction piece that directs recipients to the digital destination and then follow up with emails.  Again, this process depends on the product(s) the brand offers and the level of personalization based on data collection.

It's All About Response Rates

Year to year and day after day, it all comes down to the response rates.  Regardless of whether the brand is using email messaging or direct mail marketing strategies, the bottom line boils down to the speed at which targeted consumers or prospects respond.

As of 2019, transactional data, prepared by the Direct Marketing Association from Bizo and Epsilon, say the analytical results demonstrate when comparing direct mail vs. email data, direct mail averaged a 4.4% response rate, which far exceeded email's average response rate of 0.12%. That's a huge differential to consider when most accredited MBA business programs suggest a YTY growth rate of 4% is excellent. By comparison, the US government believes that a 3% GDP is also in positive territory.

Response rates can vary, especially when looking at lists. For example, the 2018 DMA Response Rate Report found that direct mail response rates clocked in at 9% when using a house list and 5% for a prospect list. I n addition, direct mail response rates ran laps around any other marketing channel, including combining the response rates of all of the various channels.  By comparison, email had a 1% response rate when using a house list and 1% for a prospect list. Social media and paid search came in with a 1% response rate, with online display in the rear at a measly 0.30%.  The survey fails to include the sample size and notes that it was small and added for the sample size, that it was "not typical."  That said, there were also several significant takeaways depicting specific direct mail response rates concerning mail collateral sizes, industry types, and measurements.

Letter-sized direct mail led the way for lead generation with a 15.1% response rate.  For those who are curious, these are the primary industries that are using direct mail today: 

  • 63% Healthcare
  • 67% Financial Services (Banks, Creditors)
  • 71% Media or Publishing
  • 75% Nonprofit
  • 80% Hospitality/Travel

Interestingly enough, insurance industry respondents who admit to utilizing direct mail clock in at just 50%.
Multiple methods are in use when measuring response rates, including online tracking (53%), code or coupon (45%), and call center or telephone (41%).

The ROI Debate

The results of several data survey organizations suggest that email ROI is lower in the pre-Covid-19 universe.  Further, brands and marketing teams refer to baseline data points to integrate direct mail into the marketing mix to overcome these deficiencies.  There is also pre-Covid-19 data from the DMA compiled in 2019, putting a finer nib on ROI comparisons.  The DMA survey discovered that the ROI for email averaged $28.50, with direct mail coming in at $7 for every single dollar spent.

However, brands should also consider this: We live in a Covid-19 environment where digital communications have become overwhelming.  Meanwhile, marketers as of lately state that approximately 50% of the digital targets do not see their ads, including emails. 50% would lower the ROI for every $1 spent on email marketing because fewer people see the ads.  Of course, it's challenging to make that overall assessment as product and service values shift based on competitive demand.  By contrast, approximately 40 to 50% of the workforce now works remotely, driving demand for and increasing the direct mail ROI, as people are reading direct mail pieces at a 90% clip, and those pieces are reaching people in the comfort of their homes.

The Net-Net

Brands and marketers should consider adding direct mail marketing to specific marketing strategies.  Direct mail is on the rise in value, and above all else, it will significantly enhance and add a tactile component, thus influencing targeted recipients to visit digital destinations. Remember, at the very least, direct mail marketing can add a minimum of 4% in response rates while running laps around all other marketing channels combined. Thanks for reading "How to Leverage Direct Mail Trends During Covid-19."

Let's talk about integrated business solutions and how they can move your messages forward, 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 costs, and maximize your organization's printing, letter shop, and mailing capabilities. Dove Direct has an official USPS certified bureau located within our offices to 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 vertical integrated print and mail solutions provider, offers organizations end-to-end data, printing, and mailing solutions: 

  • Data Management
  • Variable Digital/Data Printing
  • LetterShop and Fulfillment 
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  • Fully Automated MLOCR Presort Bureau
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