Direct Mail Marketing Trends for 2021

by | Dec 14, 2020

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What direct mail trends are ahead in 2021?

Well, 2020 didn’t exactly turn out like anybody thought it would. So keep a grain of salt handy.

The continuing COVID-19 pandemic, a crashed economy, and a controversial new postmaster general all contributed to the most uncertain and turbulent year in decades for the postal world. It’s safe to say that barring another major disaster, the year ahead will center on finding and creating paths to recovery and rebuilding for businesses, nonprofits, consumers, and their households. 

Here are some direct mail trends for 2021.

1. Postal Reform? Maybe.

Overall mail volume is down from past years in USPS First Class and Marketing Mail, though both have made up a lot of ground from the sharp declines in the second quarter this year. Package delivery, fueled by ecommerce over much of the last decade, has provided much-needed revenue as costs increase.

Still, long-term challenges haven’t gone away. Postal reform is badly needed. Past measures have died in recent Congressional sessions, as did the Trump administration’s plans for massive changes to USPS. But prospects really won’t become more clear until we see which party controls the U.S. Senate after the 2 runoff elections in Georgia on January 5.

Now is really a great time to make it happen, though. COVID-19 has made a lot of people realize the crucial roles of postal workers in delivering essential supplies and keeping our communities – and the nation – together in difficult times.

2. Postal Promotions? Definitely

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it because it’s true: mail isn’t dead, it’s transforming into a channel that plays well with others in ways that make sense. One good way to achieve this goal is to take advantage of USPS’s promotion discounts.

This is an entire program that gives mailers a 2% discount for incorporating new and emerging marketing and printing technologies in mail. In 2021, the promotions will be:

  • Tactile, Sensory and Interactive Engagement
  • Emerging and Advanced Technology
  • Personalized Color Transpromo
  • Mobile Shopping
  • Earned Value Reply Mail
  • Informed Delivery

Keep an eye out for more about all of these in a future post.

3. Getting More 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. As I noted earlier, postage costs continue to increase. Now add printing costs to that. This is not one of those direct mail trends that will get upended by events. But that’s OK – what you have is a great case to mail smarter in 2021.

Variable Data Printing (VDP) lets you use all of that data you have on customers (or data you should have) to engage with them 1-to-1. Your offers, charts, 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.

4. Adapting in 2021

We know that new vaccines to prevent COVID-19 are on the way in the months ahead. But in the meantime, what’s happened to our economy, and what does this mean for mail moving ahead?

Let’s acknowledge that many of the changes that were forced by COVID-19 were inevitable. More technology, work-from-home, virtual conferences, e-commerce – all were simply accelerated by the pandemic. Don’t expect much of a rollback.

Instead, look for the opportunities.

Yes, real estate is hot in many areas, due to demand and near-record low interest rates. Besides that vertical itself, consider all of the products and services that have seen increases in direct mail and multichannel efforts:

  • Home improvement
  • Groceries
  • Automotive
  • Home healthcare/telehealth
  • Retail
  • Delivery/Shopping Services

Wrapping it up

The challenges can seem pretty frustrating. With some sectors of the economy in an on-again, off-again mode for the next few months, it can be difficult to think about where to start.

Everyone wants an affordable, predictable, and sustainable mailing environment that lets them reach audiences while producing a great ROI.

It’s important to take a long-term view of your marketing strategy. While we all wait on the policymakers to come together on plans that enable us to have a more dynamic marketplace, look for ways to improve every aspect of your direct mail campaigns.

At, our postal experts can help you put together a complete and cost-effective direct mail campaign – from planning to printing to mailing – to accomplish your goals quickly.

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.

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