Attention-Grabbing Direct Mail
Think back to past decades. Everything was oversized. MC Hammer was famous for his big pants. Laptops were the size of suitcases. And cell phones were like bricks. That trend toward all things jumbo also applied to marketing, where direct mail was bigger, too. Billions of flats, some measuring 17 3/4” x 12” or larger were processed by the United States Postal Service.
In 2007, emphasis went from piece weight to piece shape/size. The cost to mail flats dramatically increased, causing a drop in flat mail volume. Data from the USPS Revenue, Pieces and Weight statistics from 2007 and 2014 show that in 2007, 30.5 billion mail pieces handled by USPS were flat mailers. Compared to 2014, the number of flat mail pieces processed dropped 41 percent to just over 18 billion.
Today, just like outdated, oversized cell phones, large direct mail formats no longer fit the industry’s landscape. Thanks to new mailing regulations introduced in 2012 that organized letter mail into a number of categories including enveloped, folded self-mailer, booklets and unenveloped mail, marketers are now innovating with attention-grabbing formats that stand out because of creativity, rather than size.
Thinking Outside the Envelope
In addition to presenting special offers, sales, deals and other promotions in their mailers, successful brands are attracting customer attention and improving response rates by using heavier stocks and coatings and through leading-edge format design. The goal is to get the piece noticed, get it opened and get the recipient to the offer.
Imagine receiving an offer on a sheet of paper inside a window #10 envelope. Other than the teaser copy on the outside of that envelope or any content that may peek through a window, you are not engaged with the offer until you have opened the envelope, pulled out the material and started to read. Now imagine that same offer on a multi-ribbon mailer that unfolds in a unique way, revealing your offer through multiple steps. Open the flap to reveal a headline beneath the flap and a die-cut in the pocket to show the offer on the components. The graphics and message are united with the format to tell a story.
Similarly, the tactile feel of a coating that is different from the paper itself, or the feel of something heavier inside the envelope may entice a recipient to open the package and engage in your offer.
Getting More Personal With Technology
Taking advantage of technology that enhances personalization of a package is another way to increase engagement and response. Personalization can help you deliver the right message to the right individual at the right time and makes the mail piece immediately relevant to each recipient. Technological developments in high-resolution inkjet, four-color inkjet and digital 1-to-1 print provide vast opportunities for hyper-personalization, enabling offers and graphics to be tailored to every recipient on a mailing list. This advanced technology also allows version control and individually targeted messaging to each recipient, rather than messaging to entire groups.
Saving Money Through the Mail Stream
Deep postage discounts through distribution in the same mail stream can be achieved through processing the digital print piece in carrier route or five-digit delivery sequences. Variable printing is just one component that helps offset the cost of postage. Other methods include drop shipping, commingling and co-palletization. Gone are the days of choosing one method or another to achieve savings; a combination of all three may net up to an additional 1 to 4 percent savings on even the largest mail files. This is accomplished with a focus on the remaining pieces that did not already achieve a discount.
When coordinated properly with an integrated transportation plan, targeted in-home delivery windows can be dependably met with either no change to or a reduction in production schedules. These strategies offer much more than just postal discounts. The integrity of the mail piece may be improved, as it is no longer handled multiple times throughout the postal processing centers, and it can also create a more consistent and predictable delivery to the intended customer.
During the years, postage has been mitigated with workshare discounts that depend on multiple factors that can confuse even the most seasoned marketing professional. Plus, there exists a more urgent need to communicate in a more innovative and targeted way to drive improved results while still qualifying for maximum postal discounts; and, more importantly, increase speed to market.
Related story: 5 Tips for Commingling and Copalletizing Mail