Mail Watch: Telecom Mail Showing the Economy’s Pinch
Not surprisingly, the weak economy is thinning out direct mail efforts across all sectors. For telecommunications firms, this translates into a jettisoning of the bells and whistles that had become standard practices in this highly competitive area. Now there are fewer intricate self-mailers with spot-glued retail drivers, less personalization and more standard-size envelope packages with less four-color. You even can feel a difference in the paper stock.
With churn up as customers look for better service deals plus the government-mandated switch from analog television to digital, telecoms have needed to take steps to keep their mail frequency healthy while their marketing budgets shrank. Thus, the percentage of mail received from telecoms for the July 2008-June 2009 period came in at 3.3 percent, a bit of a jump from the past few years when the volumes for these same time periods stayed well below 3 percent.
Another visible effect of the lagging economy on telecom mail is the surge in envelope formats, now at a five-year high of 58 percent usage. This trend seems to have two camps: telecoms returning to standard, economical formats and telecoms using smaller, invitation-style sizes to speak more intimately to select customer segments. Two firms in the latter camp are Qwest and AT&T, both of whom leveraged this approach to promote upsell offers.
Of course, the envelope format does offer another important benefit: You can add components more easily. That's the track Verizon followed with upsell offers for its FiOS Triple Freedom bundle (Archive code #808-636770-0906C & D). Two efforts in the June mailstream featured a multipanel insert titled, "Verizon FiOS TV Channel Lineup." Since seeing is believing, the telecom chose to show how much programming it offers, something consumers are weighing heavily now that they're staying home more. And in case prospects need more incentive to spring for the slightly more expensive bundle with faster internet service, Verizon kicks in a free Compaq Mini netbook, a departure from the company's usual premium of $150 cash back. All this seems to say you can scrimp wisely on your mail but not on your offers.