Banks Cut Some Mail Costs, Improve Offers
No sector of mail tracked by the Who's Mailing What! Archive has changed in the past year as much as financial services. A near collapse of the economy will do that, right?
Let's take a look at the alterations, starting with the most obvious: volume. Financial services mail accounts for 6.8 percent of the mailstream collected by the Archive between October 2008 and this past September; it's down about 40 percent compared to the same period a year ago. What's more, this pattern holds fast when contrasting the first three quarters of financial services mail in 2009 against that of 2008. Digging just a bit deeper, a month-by-month comparison for the past three years reveals that while financial services offers tend to taper off in the summer months, banks mailed so little in early 2009 that late summer actually showed a small uptick in volume.
Moving on to formats and techniques, the sector has not lost its love for personalization, with 76.2 percent of efforts received between October 2008 and September 2009 leveraging data. Likewise, the inclusion of sweepstakes and contests continues to hover at just below 2 percent of efforts during this time. But where banks turned up the charm was with premiums, as usage grew from about 33 percent to nearly 37 percent, and zero percent introductory APRs, especially for affinity card deals in the third quarter of 2009. Finally self-mailers are proving to be cost-cutting allies for banks.
Of course, smart marketers know that getting response often comes from taking a contrarian stance. For example, Advanced Financial Services has tested out of a self-mailer and into an envelope package for its bill consolidation product (Archive code #535-174023-0909X). The blend of letter, feature copy, testimonials, company backgrounder, charts and legal details used to mail in a 6" x 11" booklet. By May '09, the lender had converted this content into an 8-1/2" x 11", six-page nested letter that is glued at the margins to resemble a booklet; a 5-1/2" x 10" kraft-like outer envelope completes the effort. In all, it looks more traditional than the prior three-year control and might go a longer way to gaining the trust of prospects right now.