At 11.6 percent of the Who’s Mailing What! Archive’s total mail intake for the first three quarters of 2006, credit cards—which include oil/gas, retail, bank, general affinity, corporate and secured offers—are second only to fundraising in terms of volume. Among these financial mailers, American Express accounts for the biggest slice of the pie, responsible for 22 percent of Q106 through Q306 credit card efforts. Chase Manhattan follows at 15.1 percent, and Capital One is third at 13.3 percent.
The biggest thing these mailers all have in common is a penchant for envelopes, which accounted for 93 percent of credit card efforts. This number is not at all surprising given their next most common trait: personalization. Some 82 percent of all credit card mailings feature personal information about the recipient, protection of which requires the use of an envelope. Credit card mailers are pretty split on their use of premiums—which in this sector mainly includes loyalty credits, such as points or miles—using them in 43.6 percent of their mailings throughout the first three quarters of 2006. They are, however, uniform in their rejection of sweepstakes, which accounted for less than 1 percent of 2006 offers, and freemiums, which appeared in 4.9 percent of their mailings.
But while overall the use of freemiums is relatively low, a quarter-over-quarter comparison reveals a possibly burgeoning trend, one of growth for this tactic. Q106 saw freemiums in just 2.6 percent of credit card mailings; that number nearly doubled to 5.1 percent in Q206, thanks mostly to the use of magnets by some of the biggest mailers, including American Express and Capital One. The number continued to rise in Q306, climbing to 6.6 percent; this represents an increase of more than 150 percent from Q106 to Q306.
Another interesting quarter-over-quarter change came in envelope sizes. The standard #10 traditionally has been the most popular envelope size among all mailers, particularly financial services. In Q106 and Q206, the nonstandard 4-1/4˝ x 9-1/4˝ proved a strong match for the #10, mailing at basically even rates. In Q306, however, 4-1/4˝ x 9-1/4˝ pulled ahead as the most common envelope size, accounting for 28.9 percent of credit card mailings, compared to 23 percent for the #10. This marks the first time #10 has ceded its crown.