By Jessica Duncan, Director of Research and Insights

The direct mail industry saw its fair share of unexpected impacts in 2020; disruption to expected mail
volumes and marketing efforts, Postmaster General changes, and who can forget the historical mail-in
election voting that riddled the USPS with logistical challenges to close out the year. But as we look ahead, there is a renewed sense to establish stability again in 2021. From a marketing standpoint, this means reengaging direct mail as part of your marketing mix and finding a fresh perspective on design and targeting strategies to meet your audience at-home with exciting and relevant offers.

Drive engagement through your call to action.
Direct mail is a tested and proven strategy. When done correctly by focusing on the offer, targeting, and
the ability to generate a call to action, it can result in high response rates and positive return on
investment. While design and format play a part, there lies a great opportunity to evolve your mailers in
ways that capitalize on new advancements, notably with the call to action.

It doesn’t hurt that the USPS has also continued its promotional 2% postage discount in 2021 for their
Emerging and Advanced Technology Program. This discount is offered to those that include the use of
Video in Print, Near Field Communication, Augmented Reality and the latest addition of Respond Fast’s
first to market technology, Voice Activated Call to Action™ (VACTA).

This technology allows consumers to respond to a mail offer using a smart speaker, either Amazon Alexa
or Google Assistant. When the unique code is spoken, the offer is delivered through text or email directly
to the recipient, making the process as smooth and seamless as consumers have come to expect from
other marketing channels.

Additionally, QR codes have been around for a while now and still have a place as part of the call to
action. More thoughtful ways should be considered with how to engage users with the code through
convenient and time-saving actions. Discover, for example, has used the QR code to assist with pre-filling the card application. We also see the QR code being used to easily download coupons or mobile
apps, pay bills, and schedule appointments.

Direct mail offers the ability to engage the senses.

Direct mail is tactile and can evoke the senses in ways other marketing can’t. American Express has gone as far as using scratch and sniff mailers for their Platinum Card to create a sensory connection to their
signature scent and the experience of sitting in their Centurion Lounge. This tactic may feel like a novelty, but it can also be memorable. Direct mail has the advantage of offering a longer staying power and tangible presence over email, which at times can have a short shelf life in both the consumer’s inbox and conscious memory.

In closing, the opportunity awaits to ensure your strategic marketing efforts in 2021 include attention to how you leverage direct mail to target your prospective and customer audiences. This channel can benefit from advancements in digital technology as much as other marketing channels and it plays a pivotal role in generating new accounts, increasing brand recognition, and showcasing your digital capabilities.

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