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2021 Direct Mail Trends & Opportunities


Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "2021 Direct Mail Trends & Opportunities," takes a look at direct marketing mail trends and the industries likely to flourish during an out of control pandemic.  As the new administration takes office on January 20, 2021, we are grappling with a raging pandemic that is now producing several mutations or "variants."  We are also dealing with a crippling economy and a recently seated postmaster general, whose policies have adversely affected mail and delivery schedules.  One could make the argument that 2020 was one of the most difficult to navigate in our nation's history, particularly regarding postal service operations.  That said, brands and marketers continue to use direct mail to augment email marketing and social media advertising.  With unemployment numbers continuing to surge, the new administration will be incumbent to inject capital into the economy, where new opportunities can emerge.  Besides, given that the nation may face another shelter in place directive in the coming weeks or months, we know that people will spend more time on the web, thus crowding and slowing online performance.  To that end, marketers and brands understand that direct mail can improve digital and other marketing initiatives.

Quote of the Day: "Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way." – Les Brown

In our quest to overcome the obstacles we face, it is imperative to look at logical approaches to find or create opportunities staring us in the face.  Coupled with the motivation to succeed and the determination to meet and overcome any challenge, we can grow and reimagine our brand's value proposition.

State of the Postal System

According to USPS, overall mail volume while down, is making a comeback and eradicating losses from 2Q2020.  As you may imagine, the overwhelming requirement of package delivery spurned by the surge of e-commerce usage stopped the postal bleeding and has proven to bolster mail revenue.

The good news, the new administration is set to make changes to the postal service and will address long term issues.   With the Democrats in control of the Senate, the forthcoming changes will likely become USPS policy and benefit mail deliveries.

Direct Mail Lives On

Marketers should understand that direct mail marketing continues to be one of the most effective marketing mediums available, particularly when it comes to trustworthiness.  Consider consumer behavior when it comes to reading and responding to breaking news.  When news is breaking on digital outlets, folks will either (1) reference other digital news sites to ascertain the veracity of that news, or (2) Trust that the story is reliable, coming from a traditional news source that also has a digital arm, and therefore trustworthy.

Have you noticed that your physical mailbox has become more active because you receive more direct mail pieces than usual?  That's part of the direct mail trend.  Advertisers learned that getting folks to respond in the digital universe is challenging due to the pandemic and requires more ad placements than ordinary circumstances.  Reachability has led many marketers to incorporate direct mail into the marketing mix.

Direct mail technology has kept pace with digital technological advancements.  The technology behind variable digital printing (VDP), along with a host of data points, now factor into unique customer profiles.  In addition to sort lists, there is a plethora of information to slice and dice.  For example, demographic, behavioral, attitudinal, lifestyle, life-stage, and psychographic data contribute to the message.  Data can pinpoint variables that make direct mail pieces incredibly personal, certainly beyond first and last name introductions. VDP allows for changes to call-to-action, graphics, text, offers, colors, language, and more within a single print job.

2021 USPS Promotions

The USPS typically has an array of promotions that businesses can take advantage of throughout the year.  We contend that everyone, large and small enterprises, should take advantage of any USPS special discounts.  The USPS offers a complete discount program that provides mailers a 2% discount for electing to utilize new and emerging marketing and print mail technologies.  In 2021, USPS mail promotions include:

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

While these promotions will continue, it is a good idea to keep an eye on new USPS promotions.  However, suppose you engage a full-service commercial print vendor that provides in-house direct mail capability.  In that case, qualified vendors can obtain those discounts for any direct marketing initiatives, thus alleviating the need for continually checking for USPS postal discounts.

Personalization is Now a Necessity

The art of personalization is here to stay.  It is also becoming more robust than ever.  Postage costs are increasing, and those costs will not be affected by new events, which is why 2021 will require brands and marketers to think smarter.

VDP (Variable Data Printing) is the backbone behind personalization's one-to-one engagement.  The beauty of print technology is that the brand can include charts, images, text, graphics, offers, and more. You can encapsulate the offer in whatever data the brand has available.  Research has shown that brands that amass more up-to-date data deliver direct mail recipients that engage and respond at higher levels.

When brands include direct mail marketing in the marketing mix, the brand can reimagine the strategy to focus on the most optimal performing segments, which will help campaigns be more personal and more customized.  Personalization is where unique content becomes more relevant to every customer on the list.

Opportunities Require Adapting

As we look to an improved vaccine distribution, we anticipate a coordinated, wide-reaching federal response and distribution program.  Until that happens, we will likely have to contend with a lagging, sluggish economy.  All of the preceding changes due to the pandemic, such as work from home, virtual conferences, including business communications, and the explosion of e-commerce, will continue robustly for some time.  Conversely, we must explore new opportunities that may require some adaptation but could prove to be valuable nonetheless.  For example, the real estate market has enjoyed historically low-interest rates, fueling a rise in marketing for real estate concerns, moving and packing companies, and home renovators.

When we look at opportunities, we should consider any service or product along the value chain that impacts your offerings.  That would be any place that is experiencing increased spending in direct mail, coupled with omnichannel efforts. Some of the opportunities include:

  • Delivery and Shopping Services
  • Groceries
  • Automotive
  • Home Healthcare/Telehealth
  • Retail
  • Home Improvement

The Net-Net

We contend that marketers should take time to examine every aspect that involves instituting a cost-effective direct mail campaign.  The goal should be to integrate direct mail with any digital marketing mix.  Should you need an organization to partner with for direct mail campaign planning to deliver VDP, printing, and mailing, contact Dove Direct; we'd be pleased to work with you. Thanks for stopping by and taking a moment to read "2021 Direct Mail Trends & Opportunities."

Let's have a conversation about integrated business solutions and how they can help grow your business, change behavior, and improve the customer experience.  Let us show you how to improve your document processes to optimize your workflow, reduce your costs, and maximize your organization's printing, letter shop, and mailing capabilities. Dove Direct does have an official USPS certified bureau located within our offices that will save you time and money. We can even create a demo file for you.

For more information, call Carla Eubanks at 404-629-0122 or email Carla at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Dove Direct, your Atlanta based print and mail solutions provider, offers organizations end-to-end data, printing, and mailing solutions:

  • Data Management

  • Variable Digital Printing
LetterShop and Fulfillment

  • Fully Automated MLOCR Presort Bureau

  • Marketing and Production Management Support

  • Secure Data Life Cycle Management

If you don't want to wait, you can reach Dove Direct today by calling 404-629-0122 or use the Contact Form for Dove Direct.

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