Print+Promo 2018 State of the Industry Report: Getting the most from direct mail
For Print+Promo’s 2018 State of the Industry report, we dug deep to uncover printing industry trends, learn more about the Trump effect on print and find answers to questions, like: Where is the printing industry going?
As part of our investigation, we reached out to experts in various market segments: printed forms, labels, promotional products and direct mail. Below is an excerpt from my conversation with Summer Gould, president of Eye/Comm Inc., Santee, Calif. Find out what she had to say about the viability of direct mail, where marketers can improve and how to streamline costs while still using the U.S. Postal Service.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the direct mail sector? What kind of effect will the Trump administration’s recent reforms have on the sector?
Summer Gould: Direct mail overall volumes are down in large part to better targeting. When you send the right offers to the right people, you send less mail. Increasing postage costs have been a concern for the industry for a while now. The Postal Regulatory Commission is currently reviewing postage rate structures and rates, and, once decided, the new rate structure will be in effect for about 10 years. Direct mail is very effective, so companies continue to see a great return on their investment. If postage rates increase too quickly, we could see a decline in mail, but I do not see it going away completely.
It is hard to predict at the moment how the Trump administration’s reforms will affect marketing budgets and direct mail specifically. We can hope that companies who have more money will then increase spending on marketing so that they have more money for direct mail.
What do you think the biggest changes will be this year, and what will drive them?
SG: In 2018, we should see more precise targeting of offers to prospects and customers. The more personal you make direct mail, the better results you get. We should also see more technology being added to mail pieces. By technology, we mean, things such as augmented or virtual reality and video that incorporate the use of mobile devices with mail. Of course, companies need to continue to link direct mail to online content with URLs and short links.
As postage prices continue to increase, how can direct mailers save money while still using the U.S. Postal Service?
SG: The best way to save on postage is to make sure you plan ahead enough in advance to use standard mail postage rates instead of first class. The next way to save is to make sure you design mail that meets USPS requirements so that you do not pay any extra postage. Postcards are the cheapest form of direct mail for both print and mail services, as envelopes and tabs are more expensive. Finally, when you are able to group your mail by SCF, you can claim discounted postage rates.
The “Mail Moment,” as coined by the USPS, provides marketers and their print partners with an opportunity to get their messages noticed and their offers considered when consumers are sorting through their mail. How can marketers and printers ensure that “Mail Moment” happens?
SG: You need an eye-catching piece. If using an envelope, consider a personalized tagline and color imprint. When you are using mailers or postcards, choose bright colors, [and] choose images that stand out and convey your message effectively. Curiosity drives people to want to know more, so how can you create curiosity when people look at your mail piece? The post office has great examples of irresistible direct mail that you can take a look at and try. Check them out at https://www.irresistiblemail.com/.
Where are marketers falling short?
SG: In many cases, marketers are not segmenting their data enough to target people with the correct offers. The better a message is targeted, the better your response rates will be. You may have more information in your data than you realize that can be applied to the mail pieces. We also see too much focus on one marketing channel; you should be marketing in multiple channels so that they cross-pollinate each other and drive response.