Stat of the Month: Insurance
No matter how poorly the economy might be doing, the insurance sector will remain on solid ground-and that is borne out by looking at the mailstream during the first quarter of 2009, when the recession was in full damage mode that included many direct mail segments dropping their volume considerably, such as banks and credit cards. Taking a deep dive into our Who's Mailing What! Archive—the most complete library of direct mail in the world—reveals that the insurance sector has taken up a large percentage of the mailstream each year from 2005, when it was 2.8 percent. The first three months of this year, it's up to 4.2 percent, a growth of 33.3 percent over that time period.
Insurance mail includes accidental death, marine, pet and travel coverage alongside better-known ones like life, auto and health. But no matter what the type of insurance, insurance mailers appear to march to their own drummer compared to other sectors. For example, while the self-mailer format has become very popular in other verticals, it's actually decreased in popularity with insurers over the past two years. After reaching a high point of 16 percent of insurance efforts in 2007, it dropped by 5 percent in 2008 and by another 57.9 percent in the first quarter of 2009, all the way down to a measly 6.4 percent of insurance mail.
Axel Andersson Grand Controls (mailings that have been in the mailstream for three years or more) are another case in point. Most other sectors are sending more new efforts than ever before in order to drive better response, and some mail pieces seem to fatigue more quickly than previously. But you wouldn't know it by looking at the insurance sector, as the percentage of insurance mail that is Grand Controls has steadily risen each year since 2006, when it sat at 9.3 percent. After going up a few percentage points in 2007 and 2008, it zoomed all the way up to nearly half of all insurance efforts in the first quarter of 2009.
Premiums also remain at a low percentage of insurance efforts, in contrast with many other sectors that increasingly rely on this tactic. After reaching a high of 13.3 percent of insurance mail in 2005, premium use sunk in frequency each year since, all the way down to 9.2 percent in the first quarter of this year.
The one direct mail tactic that's grown in popularity throughout the mailstream, including the insurance sector? Personalization. Since 2006, when it was used in 60.6 percent of insurance efforts, it's gone up a few percentage points each year, to over three-quarters of insurance mail in the first quarter of 2009—that's an increase of 20.4 percent in a little over two years.