Direct Mail Volumes are Hanging in There

Throughout 2015 it seemed to me that the amount of direct mail delivered to my mailbox was as high as ever so I thought I’d take a look at the USPS stats and see if myhunch matched up to the data. The USPS has data posted for their fiscal year 2015, which ended on September 30th, so it contains data for nine months of 2015 and the last quarter of 2014.  They also posted data for fiscal year 2014.  And the data showed that standard mail volumes in FY 2015 were 80.09 billion pieces vs. FY 2014 volumes of 80.37 or a decrease of 0.4% or let’s call it flat.

Well considering all the emphasis being placed on digital advertising and social media, having volumes stay flat means it must still be delivering a good return and it looks like new efforts in personalization will help improve the ROI.

One of the trends in direct mail remains the adoption of personalization. It seems like this topic has been around forever, well at least for 20 years.  And at PODi we have hundreds of successful implementations of variable data printing (www.podi.org) , but most of those were relatively small campaigns with print volumes in the thousands or tens of thousands. What’s happening now is the adoption of personalization is on the rise, especially full color image personalization for larger volume campaigns.  This trend is being enabled by the new high speed color inkjet presses and their ability to print with higher image quality and on a broader range of substrates at costs comparable to using an offset forms press with monochrome overprinting. Anecdotal results indicate the response rates for these higher volume campaigns using personalization, including switching out images, are higher than what was attained with just variable text. I expect to see more high speed inkjet presses being purchased by high volume direct mailers in 2016.

In a publication titled Down to Earth: Worth Printing by International Paper points out some interesting statistics about direct mail:

At our house direct mail is working.  We consistently get coupons and offers from the retailers we like to buy from and we consistently take advantage of these offers. So as we tell all our friends – open your mail and buy something.