Door Slamming on Direct Mail Response as It Slams on Home Delivery?
Direct mailers are losing out as the U.S. Postal Service pushes for curbside and cluster box mail delivery, says a new report from the USPS Office of Inspector General (opens as a PDF).
"Advertising mail delivered to a recipient's door generates higher 'read and response' rates than advertising mail delivered to the curbside or a neighborhood cluster box," reads the April 20 report. "Door-delivery customers also are less likely to throw their ad mail away than customers with curb or cluster box delivery."
Mail recipients say they read and respond to 16 percent of the mail delivered to their doors, 8 percent of the curbside information and 4 percent of what arrives in cluster boxes. These are the figures 5,000 household mail recipients told InfoTrends, which was conducting the research for USPS OIG.
In a comment below an April 21 article by the Washington Post about the research, "Modes of Delivery and Customer Engagement With Advertising Mail," one reader provides a possible reason for this read and response range.
"Most apartment complexes have garbage cans right next to the cluster boxes so the mail doesn't get thrown on the ground," writes LesWol. "And at residential boxes, people often do throw it on the ground. When I was delivering mail to individual curbside boxes—the ones at the end of each house's driveway—I would often see people standing over the garbage can sorting out junk mail before they went into the house. Now that I'm retired, I have a cluster box and I keep a bag in the car to throw all the junk mail in. If I had a box at my unit, I'd have to take all the mail inside."
The USPS effort to control costs by centralizing delivery may actually be costing itself more money than it may save, worries the USPS OIG. The research suggests USPS dialog with direct mailers specifically about this study.
USPS figures show a precipitous decline in First Class mail and Direct Marketing Association research announced on April 2 shows 79 percent marketers sent direct mail in 2012, but that figure is now 50 percent.
"In 2013, postal service products generated $28.2 billion in contribution to institutional cost," USPS OIG says. "The OIG estimates that 23 percent of this total, $6.3 billion, came from advertising mail sent to households. According to the Boston Consulting Group, the Postal Service can expect the non-advertising component of First Class mail volume, its main source of contribution to institutional cost, to decline significantly by 2020. This inexorable change will force the postal service to rely increasingly on other products, including advertising mail, as well as cost-cutting to fund its operations."
Data this study reveals could put ad mail's "contribution to postal service institutional costs in jeopardy," the USPS OIG adds.
Postal officials have said package delivery revenues are steadily increasing, and that's one area where they'd like to concentrate their efforts.
Will this information cause marketers to spend less on direct mail? Will direct mailers push USPS away from the cluster box option?
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