Direct mail took a downturn in 2009 but has been rising at an impressive rate ever since and is predicted to continue doing so. Technology has given rise to “Smart Mail” which can be segmented, targeted, and tracked just as well as any digital channel. Companies utilizing “Smart Mail” in the coming years will reach an audience their virtual efforts completely neglect.
Expenditures for direct mail grew to just over $50 billion in 2011, which was a 4.6% industry increase according to the Direct Marketers Association. The DMA also forecasts that mail sales will continue to rise at a rate of 2.3% over the next two years. We have found that a large determinate in the direct mail surge can be contributed to the ability to couple mail with various digital channels, which creates a multichannel program that has the ability to saturate a market.
As 2012 streams along physical mail is becoming more and more interactive. There is digital direct mail which is comprised of QR codes and text prompts. The very recent and very popular SXSW conference was loaded with QR codes on everything from business cards to t-shirts. It is a great solution to integrate channels and get tech savvy people more involved. Then there is disc mail which merges video and physical mail together. Yes, someone could simply make a YouTube video and post it but the majority of these videos become whitewash for just that reason, it’s simple. Video mail, text prompts, and QR codes all stimulate curiosity and demand interaction.
Companies are also taking advantage of cross-promotional techniques. There is still a very large portion of people who wish to receive all of their bills by mail, and this same group of people are also the least likely to come across a company on the internet because they are less digital savvy. So now companies can consolidate must read forms like credit card statements, bills, and invoices with advertisements for other products and services. Not only are shipping costs nullified but the consumer is basically forced to glance at an ad tied to their bill.
Technology aside there will be large increases in direct mail due to various economic factors. PQ Media predicts that political campaigning will spend $5.6 billion on media this year, which is a 25 percent more than 2010. The oldest of generation Y are turning 26 and 27, an age at which some serious spending will take place with singles looking to settle down. Then there is the continual growth of the U.S. car market which always has a large hand in direct mail advertising.
With companies becoming more and more competitive their offers continue to increase in generosity. While this may work in some circumstances, many consumers are literally skeptical because the deals are so good. When applying for credit cards, airlines will offer round trip tickets and banks will provide up to $625 in travel for generic spending with their car. There is also the problem of the thousands of scams that are on the internet for free iPads and other electronics. Consumers have become more skeptical and aware over the years. The point is direct mail is seen a more trustworthy channel because you cannot get a computer virus or have someone steal your information from interacting with it. It is simply an avenue that the public is less weary of.
Mail is like a dinosaur, it has been around forever but people still find it incredibly interesting. It is much more exciting to receive a letter from a friend than an email, and the nostalgia that a letter holds can be conveyed in advertisements when presented correctly. The Millennial generation, who is driven by technology, is hitting the prime age for weddings, home purchases, and widespread spending in general. After receiving all information instantly, the Millennials can appreciate the though it takes for physical mail. It is a medium that has proven to have staying power over the years and will continue to grow businesses in the years to come.