What direct mail trends will shape the course of your business in 2023?
With the right planning, marketers should be able to overcome these challenges and use direct mail effectively to meet their goals.
As you adjust and monitor your marketing spend, here are some direct mail trends for 2023.
1. Postal Service Changes
Marketing Mail increased slightly in 2022 to almost pre-pandemic levels. For the fiscal year ending September 30, 2022, volume in this class jumped 1.4% to 67.1 billion pieces. Revenue increased 9.7%, or to just over $16 billion.
Package delivery, after several years of growth, some due to the pandemic, actually fell slightly. And while First Class mail revenue increased slightly to $24.04 billion, actual volume continued its long-term decline.
Following the rollout of its “Delivering for America” makeover plan a year earlier, 2022 saw more changes by USPS intended to achieve financial stability.
To cut costs and look towards the future, the postal service:
- Invested in new electric postal delivery vehicles
- Used more trucks instead of air transport for moving mail across the country
- Installed new packaging sorting machines to handle increased e-commerce demand
- Streamlined or right-sized retail services by closing post office branches
2022 was also the year that the U.S. Congress passed the most significant change in 16 years, the Postal Service Reform Act. Signed into law by President Joe Biden, the measure mostly shores up USPS finances by repealing the healthcare pre-funding requirement and enrolling retirees in Medicare. It also preserves, at least for now, six-day delivery of mail.
The recent adjustment of USPS service standards is just one factor that marketers need to take into account in campaign planning. Another is the new normal of twice-a-year postage increases. As of January 2023, there have been 3 increases in 17 months, with overall inflation factoring into the latest amounts.
Working Better with USPS
Moving forward, marketers need to look at several measures to economize on their campaigns. For example:
- Reducing the size of your mail pieces can save paper and ink costs
- Moving mail into the postal system closer to the final delivery location
- Partnering with a vendor that provides in-house mailing services alongside printing
- Using pre-sort and automation rates for larger campaigns
2. Postal Tech Promotions: A Bigger Bargain
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it because it’s true: mail is not just alive, it’s transforming into a channel that plays well with others in ways that make sense for today’s consumers.
The USPS realized this fact years ago. It started a robust promotions program that gives mailers discounts for mail campaigns that incorporate new and developing marketing and printing technologies. The idea is to “push the envelope”, to get marketers and printers to think outside the box, and create mail that drives engagement and increases ROI.
Here are the 2023 USPS Promotions:
- Tactile, Sensory and Interactive Engagement (5% discount)
- Emerging and Advanced Technology (now includes mobile shopping) (3-4% discount)
- Personalized Color Transpromo (3-4% discount)
- Informed Delivery (4% discount, 0.5% incentive for eDoc Postage Statement Submitters)
- Reply Mail IMBA (3-6% discount) – NEW
- Retargeting (5% discount) – NEW
With Informed Delivery, for example, you can reach over 54 million people who have opted in to receive a daily notification of their incoming mail. A digital ride-along image can be part of a free, integrated marketing campaign; on average, 67.4% of notifications are opened daily.
We’ll get into much more detail about ID and some of the other technology discounts in upcoming posts. But for now, think about this as an opportunity to try out cutting-edge tech that makes your mail more valuable. In a world where every digital experience is delivered over the same devices, these techniques can reach consumers in a tactile way.
3. New Focus on the Personal
More personalization in your direct mail has always been a good thing to strive for. But more and more, it’s also becoming a necessity.
While you may want to take some of the steps listed above to economize your direct mail spending, high-level personalization gives you a way to get more from what you spend.
Variable Data Printing (VDP) lets you use all of that data you have on customers to engage with them 1-to-1. Your offers, copy, and images can all be powered by your data. Paired with a strategy of focusing on your best-performing segments, it will result in campaigns that are more customized – and relevant – to your customers.
VDP is also an opportunity to develop a more omnichannel communications strategy. Instead of a generic campaign going to a large audience, use a personalized mail piece that meets an individual’s wants or needs at the right time, and moves them to act in any channel – print or digital.
4. New Support from Marketers
Even as ad spending on digital channels continues to increase, there’s been an acknowledgment from the marketing industry that other channels like mail bring advantages to the table when trying to reach customers.Here are a few stats to consider:
- Direct mail letters average 43% ROI according to the latest (2023) ANA Response Report
- 74% of marketers said that direct mail delivers the best ROI of any channel, according to Lob’s 2023 State of Direct Mail report
- The Winterberry Group forecasts that direct mail spending in 2023 will increase from 1.6% to 3.3% of advertising dollars, while spending in many digital channels will decrease
Wrapping it up
When it’s done well, direct mail has a higher response rate than purely digital channels. The key to success is using all of these technologies more cohesively and wisely. Do it in a way that meets individual members of today’s audiences where each of them is and drives authentic, human interaction.
At mailing.com, our postal experts can help you put together a complete and cost-effective direct mail campaign – from planning to printing to mailing – that reaches consumers in ways digital can’t alone.
Drop us a line or call us! We’d love to show you how to put mail to work in your next campaign during the year ahead and accomplish your goals.