The "New" First-Class Mail
It was just a matter of time. Just three months ago, we predicted that savvy direct marketers would recognize an opportunity in the decrease of First-Class mail due to e-mail communication. This month that prediction has come true, as we're seeing a number of direct mail packages that either mimic the look of First-Class personal and business messages or actually were sent First-Class to stand out.
We pulled at least 12 efforts out of the May mail drop that used a white, plain-clothes outer envelope. While the efforts represented a variety of industriespublishing, loans, credit and continuitythe predominant size was the #10 envelope. ComputerWorld deviated from the norm with a larger #11 envelope (207COMPUT0500) and Time went a little smaller with a #9 that better fit its price-driven discount offer (201TIMEMA0500B).
Within these dozen efforts, the marketers took different paths in getting the look of a First-Class mailing. Bottom Line/Tomorrow newsletter (250BOTLIT0500X), ComputerWorld and XXXX chose Presorted Standard and First-Class postage stamps for a more personal appeal. The rest of the pack either metered their mail or used printed indiciasnothing that is out of line with First-Class business mail.
The majority of the campaigns featured no copy or graphics on the outer, except the company name and return address in the corner card. The mailings from mortgage companies Crestline Funding (535CREFUN0500) and Guaranty National Bank (535GUANAB0500) were a little sneakier, printing vague identifiers like "Division of Disbursement" and "Operations Center" above the return address.
Columbia House (127COLUHO0500A), the State Taxation Institute (250ECOMTA0500) and XXXXXX (535DIGGRA0500) refused to go cold turkey on envelope copy and teased recipients inside their efforts with simple headlines that either give the appearance of an official mailing or of an enclosed gift.
It's worth noting that the contents of these mailings tend to be the same campaigns that get mailed in more splashy outers that announce, "Hey, I'm a direct mail offer." As with most trends that are based on format or creative, this wave probably won't have a long shelf life. It may even spawn a backlash of efforts that go the opposite direction with very promotional outers!
Ideas in Action
* Test a Presort or Bulk Rate postage stamp on mailings that have performed in the past, but need a facelift. Nearly every mailer we've talked to reported seeing response lifts on campaigns with stamps.
* Adopt the First-Class mail look but don't forget that your presorted mail must identify the mailer somewhere on the carrier, either in the return address, permit number or meter number.