What are the current direct mail trends?
Although direct mail volume in the U.S. has declined by 29,85% since 2006, the good news is that it’s expected to grow through 2020 due to a relatively stable economy and direct mail’s ability to complement digital marketing channels.
The numbers are looking positive. As direct mail integration with digital marketing gained speed in 2017, direct mail spending and volume have slightly increased and it’s expected to grow further by 0,4% annually by the year 2020.
Rising postage costs may have affected the ROI of direct mail. But as digital channels get so crowded, it gets harder for marketers to stand out from their competitors. As a result, direct mail returned to life again after its supposed death, as a channel that is less crowded and very effective.
Here is an overview of current direct mail trends that have impacted and will continue to shape the direct mail marketing, design, and printing technologies in the near future.
1. Integration with Digital Channels
In September 2017, Apple released a new system update for iOS11 that changed the way people scan a QR code, simply by flipping on their cameras. Since then, the QR code has regained its popularity and direct mail integration with digital channels has reached a new level. It became easier to drive highly targeted mobile recipients to digital activities: personalized URL pages, product pages, locations on maps, save the date apps or welcome videos. Direct mail and digital channels can work in tandem to get your message in front of prospects.
How to put into practice:
- Direct mail and Email Marketing: If your email doesn’t get the expected response with certain subscribers, you have to think outside the box — outside the inbox in fact. Following your email by a direct mail or vice-versa on the same day increase your overall ROI and average consumer spendings.
- QR codes: send scanners to a personalized landing page, a product page, show them the location of your store on the map or help them add your event to their calendar app with a simple scan.
- Direct Mail API integration: re-engage your potential customers that have abandoned their shopping carts by sending a personalized postcard, printed and mailed on demand.
- Augmented reality: create an interactive direct mail that comes to life, by providing a particular code that scanned reveals holographic illustrations or other interactive visual elements.
Direct mail is the perfect combination for digital marketing channels, together they thrive and create well-balanced marketing campaigns.
2.Targeting and Personalization
The second major trend is targeting and personalization. It’s a fact stated by multiple studies, recipients pay more attention to mail pieces that are personalized because they make them feel special. Customers and prospects expect a personalized experience, according to nearly 9 out of 10 (88%) respondents to the Everage, Trends and Personalization Survey – 2018. Personalized direct mail is highly-targeted and returns outstanding results, compared to that of direct mailing, labeling the consumers as ‘the homeowners’.
How to put into practice: Based on all personal data you can collect about your customer database: purchasing history, shopping preferences, psychographics, demographics, and lifestyle; you can create custom offers that appeal to the right person at the right time. Personalization nowadays isn’t complicated. There’s plenty of great software that can easily personalize any aspect of your direct mail piece with variable data printing (VDP) services.
3. Design and Formats
3.1. Simple design
Despite the fact that overall design tends to get complex and overly creative with mailing tubes, boxes and 3-D mailers, simple design will be preferred for conveying strong marketing messages.
How to put into practice: less is more when it comes to direct mail design. Avoid cramming in loads of images and text, keep things simple. Get your recipients’ attention, highlight the most important information, and help them easy to read and take the desired action. That’s pretty much all your direct mail piece has to do.
3.2. Oversized mail
Despite the significant savings from mailing standard sized pieces that meet USPS regulations for automated processing, many marketers mail large oversized postcards and envelopes. Oversized envelopes have the greatest return on investment over other formats with 37%, followed by postcards and letter-sized envelopes at 29%, according to the DMA.
How to put into practice: For an oversized postcard, you have to exceed the standard postcard size that is no larger than 6-1/8″ x 11-1/2″ x 1/4″ thick. But make sure you have an appropriate budget for these dimensions, you’ll have to pay flats postage prices.
3.3. Color choice
The trendsetter and the global authority on colors, Pantone Color Institute has released its lifestyle color trends forecast for cosmetics, fashion, interior, industrial and multimedia design for 2019, and they’re unexpected. They have chosen seven core color palettes plus two transitional color palettes, and their number #1color is Fiesta that radiates energy, passion, and excitement.
According to Pantone guidelines:
○ Go with blues and oranges if you want to look “resourceful”
○ Choose yellow for “playfulness”,
○ Pink is “discrete” and “delicate”,
○ Gold is “sophisticated”
○ Reach a diverse crowd with rosy tones.
How to put into practice: Use contrasting colors to highlight the most important information. And let your headline be your first eye-catching element in your design. Also highlight with different colors, typography, and size the key benefits, the offer, and the call to action. Use colors that represent your key brand elements. Also remember that USPS rewards mailers that invest in color print technology, and use personalized messages and dynamically printed colors on their envelopes.
3.4. Unique folds and Dimensional Mail
create a complete tactile and sensory experience by requiring recipients to touch and manipulate the piece. Dimensional pieces stand out from the crowd and attract more attention. That’s why the USPS encourages the latest technologies within the print industry and offers discounts for features like folds and interactive dimensional elements.
How to put into practice: Half-folds and tri-folds do not qualify for postage discounts, you must include elements that the recipients can physically manipulate (twist, spin, dial, pull bend). They should include 3-dimensional, pop-ups or infinite folding.
is an essential part of current marketing strategies. Put it simply, people enjoy the content that flows like a story. And therefore, marketers strive to link information together into a story that makes their latest products, brands or companies look special and unique.
How to put into practice: send every mail piece as a part of one big story. The recipients will be inclined to stick around for your correspondences in order to hear the whole tale.
5. Digital Printing
Over the past 15 years, commercial printing has been migrating from offset to digital and connected services. Many direct mail providers plan to invest in the near future in digital machines, high-speed inkjet presses with sheet-fed or roll-fed configurations. That will help them stay competitive for short-run orders, automated processing, and lower cost operation. *
How to put into practice: Contract the services of printers that keep investing in equipment that allows inserting, coating, priming, and special effects, punching, perforating, envelope personalization and dynamic creation to gain competitive advantage and add value to your mailing services.
5.1. UV spot printing
UV Spot printing has become another huge direct mail trend. The “UV” portion of Spot UV printing involves using UV light for curing a varnish placed on the printed material. The turnaround with UV spot printing is faster and more cost-effective with digital UV presses. The effect is spectacular when compared to standard direct mail.
How to put into practice: this method can be utilized on premium postcards and flyers, on white papers and heavy card stock and it’s more effective on color-printed materials to enhance the shine, and keep moisture and damage out. It‘s mainly used for its decorative effect and applied to only parts of a print.
To sum it up, direct mail is best described as an activation medium. Consumers open and interact with mail, which then drives digital behavior such as visits to a website or social site, emails to a company, or sharing of content online. Tweak it here and there with a simple design, a shiny color, a unique fold, an oversized pop-up format or through a serial story and your marketing results will skyrocket.
* Source: Trends and Future of Direct Mail through 2010 by PRIMIR.