With the economy in a free fall and more reluctance among Americans to sink their money in the stock market than in recent memory, could there be a better (or harsher!) time to examine the investment sector? While only so many trends can be seen from a statistical breakdown of this direct mail sector in our Who's Mailing What! Archive—the world's most complete library of direct mail—some do assert themselves, especially the number of investment marketers going with new efforts alongside new techniques.
Trend number one, not surprisingly, is that there is less total investment mail in the mailstream this year (our statistical data goes up until the end of November) and last compared to previous years. Compared to 2006, for example, there's 18 percent less investment mail; compared to 2000, the difference widens even more, to 36.4 percent.
But while there's less mail, these efforts are trying to do more than in years past. In other words, more new mail and more tactics are being tested and sent out. For instance, there was nearly an identical 40 percent drop in control mailings sent out in both 2007 and 2008 compared to 2008.
Among these new efforts, particularly in 2008, the usage of premiums, personalization and the self-mailer format was increased. Last year premiums increased by 11.7 percent compared to 2006, and zoomed up by 31.8 percent compared to 2007. Personalization followed the same trend, setting a record high in 2008 (representing 39.3 percent of all investment efforts) after dipping in 2007 and giving a decent showing in 2006; number-wise, personalization in 2008 represented a 10 percent increase from 2007 and a 5 percent increase from 2006. These changes indicate the marketers are increasingly testing personalization and premiums in order to up response.
Lastly, over the past two years, self-mailers became more prominent among investment mailings. Compared to 2006, self-mailers grew by 12.5 percent in 2007 and 7.4 percent in 2008. This growth mirrors the trend of deploying more self-mailers as seen in many other sectors, with the self-mailer costing less to mail and the marketing messages being trimmed down to fit this format.