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Executive Summary

The last quarter of 2020 was not kind to the direct mail industry. Overall, quarterly mailings were less than half the 2020 total. The Health Insurance category was the only major bright spot, thanks to increased Medicare Advantage mailings during the Q4 annual enrollment season.

Gunderson Direct saw similar drops among its client base. However, there are two major trends of note: 

  1. While many major mailers pulled back, we are working with a number of companies looking to enter the mail stream for the first time. These tend to be direct-to-consumer businesses facing weakening digital response along with increasing pressure to bring in leads. They see the DM channel as a valuable leads source, and some of them are testing pretty darn deeply.
  2. Thanks to COVID-19, B2B mailers had pulled back from mailings, and were reticent to mail until they saw storefront businesses opening again. Starting in December—as vaccinations started—we began hearing from a number of clients and prospects who are planning to get back in market – some of them are already mailing in Q1. B2B mailers that target service industries and startups have been more aggressive, and some are experiencing surprising growth. 

What’s ahead? A recent survey by the Winterberry Group published in a Marketing Charts post anticipates a 4.8% increase in DM spending in 2021 vs. 2020. We at Gunderson Direct agree, and are already seeing increasing mail volumes already heading into Q2. 

IN THE MAIL

Consumers keep an extra-keen eye on their mailboxes in Q1. Why’s that? Those necessary evils called tax documents.

With money on recipients’ minds, it’s no wonder these top finance-related companies are winning at the DM game this quarter:

Personal Capital knows how to work the DM channel — hitting numbers on both sides of the cost/response equation. Their most recent postcard is building the brand and driving leads by combining cross-channel design elements with DM-optimized copy. This client also enjoyed a 2% postage discount thanks to using a soft-touch textured stock and raised UV coating. See below for more on that 🙂

Avalara’s most recent piece proves that when you give great content, you can get great results. This DM piece checks all the boxes for a targeted B2B program: a relevant free offer clearly communicated on both sides of the piece, clean design, and hierarchical support copy that utilizes best practices like check-mark bullet points and strategic use of bolding and font size to draw the eye in to key points. 


TIPS AND TACTICS

Like the Personal Capital piece above, USPS promotions are a great way to stand out in the mail, drive response, and save on postage costs. With six promotions running in 2021—for everything from emerging technology integration (including our Respond Fast VACTA service) to tactile, sensory, and interactive engagement—there’s definitely a way for your brand’s DM to both capture recipients’ attention and save you some coin.


Let’s Get ahead!

We are optimists!
As people get vaccinated and herd immunity takes hold, experts anticipate strong economic growth in the months ahead. The J&J one-shot vaccine is only going to speed the process. Indoor table for 6, anyone?

Watch for travel (marketing) to boom.
Expect seniors – the first group to be vaccinated – to make up for lost travel time and hit the road, the cruise lines, and airports. After months of missing each other, family members with states or countries between them will finally be getting together.

Custom B2B data builds.
The extent of small business loss is yet to be fully determined.
Who’s open? Who’s reopened? And who’s gone for good? A B2B compiled database just isn’t current enough to know all those answers. We are using custom database building sources to locate open and active businesses in many industries. Data sources include business registrations, purchase activity, and many more. 

What are you waiting for?
If Q2 mailings are in your marketing plans, then the planning starts now. Strategy? Testing? Data sourcing? Creative development?  Let’s talk.


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Mike Gunderson

Mike Gunderson is the founder of Gunderson Direct, Inc., a direct marketing agency that helps businesses drive new leads and close more sales through traditional offline channels, especially direct mail.

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