Looking Ahead: 2020 Q4 Direct Mail Planning

22 September 2020 / By Jeff Tarran
Reading time: 4 minutes

Our latest insights will help you prepare your DM program for Q4 and plan for 2021

COVID-19, fires, shelter-in-place, elections, USPS woes. Other than that, it’s business as usual.

What are we seeing as we move towards Q4? A few data points included in this article are sourced from third parties, but for the most part this post is based on conversations with our clients, prospects, data sources, and printers.

 

Delivery times

So far, we are not seeing dramatic shifts in delivery timing. Maybe a delay of a day or two. If mail volume picks up as we near the election, that could extend a bit, but we are not anticipating a mail delivery catastrophe that would be a disruption to business mailers.

 

Mail volume and who’s mailing

Mail volumes began increasing across a number of categories in Q3. July numbers (most recent data) are more than 20% greater than May lows according to multiple sources.

According to a quick survey of printers by Greg Johnson, our lead production manager, key sectors driving that growth include financial mailers, healthcare, and non-profits.

He also reports evidence of significant growth among ecommerce/online retailers. Many are jumping into the mail for the first time as they extend their marketing beyond digital. They see it as their opportunity to build demand in front of the holiday season. We’re having 2-3 calls a week with many of these prospects ourselves.

 

Then there’s the Election

 Greg also reports that printers are busy preparing election mailings. Watch for fuller mailboxes starting in October and right up until election day. The heaviest action will be in swing states and wherever races are heavily contested.

And then there’s voting by mail. Mail-in voting volume will start picking up in mid-October, but we think it’s really those few days right before the election that will be impacted the most.

This will likely slow mail processing, but keep in mind that election mail is going to local election offices, not to consumers or businesses. So, for all the noise, the likely impact to consumers will be delivery delays of a couple days, which most won’t notice.

 

Holidays close to home

All indications are that we’ll be taking shorter trips and staying closer to home this holiday season. Less than half of Americans report being comfortable traveling by plane right now. That could mean more consumers will be around to receive mail. Many major mailers see a response dip in December, but this could be the year to test a new approach.

 

 

 

 

2021 outlook

Most predictions show the economy rebounding in 2021. An indicator could be that searches for summer 2021 travel this past July were double what they were a year ago. Many of our clients are already deep into 2021 planning.

 

Not to mention

Prospects needs are changing—their finances, their perception of safety, their personal relationships, their careers, the way their kids are being educated, and so much more. How you position your company to help consumers navigate these uncharted waters as we go into the most unusual holiday season of our lifetimes (and beyond) is critical.

The need to communicate differently to your prospects plays to direct mail’s strengths. It’s the only medium that combines content delivery with physical eye-hand engagement to capture and hold attention. When prospects find the mail interesting, they will spend the time to read and absorb the message… and act. That engagement might make direct mail the secret weapon to break through to your prospects in this new environment.

 

 

GREG JOHNSON, PRODUCTION MANAGER

Greg Johnson is a production expert with over 25 years of experience. Greg’s ability to negotiate and choose manufacturing relationships across the U.S. ensures the best cost, efficiency and quality for our customers.

When he’s not printing and managing winning direct mail programs, he devotes his time to his faith as a minister at Greater Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church.

Jeff Tarran
About The Author

Jeff Tarran

As VP of Account Services, Jeff works with our clients to analyze business problems and develop direct marketing strategies that achieve their goals. A 20-year veteran and strategic thought leader in direct marketing, Jeff has headed two independent direct response agencies in the Bay Area after starting his career at Foote Cone and Belding. He earned a Dual BS in management and communications at Syracuse University and his MBA in marketing at Columbia University in New York.