Today’s marketers have a huge range of options available to them; from advanced innovations to advanced tracking capabilities, businesses have many ways to capture customer attention and set their brands apart.
Direct mail, in particular, can be a powerful component in omnichannel campaigns. But with so many different tools and tactics available, it can be difficult to determine the best way forward.
To gain insight into how businesses across various industries are using direct mail, the United States Postal Service commissioned a proprietary study from Summit Research. Here’s what the data revealed, industry by industry:
Across all the industries surveyed, financial companies said direct mail is as or more effective than other channels; only social media was ranked as more effective, by just 1%. Financial companies also report having the highest expertise with direct mail.
They reported using mail primarily to drive growth or loyalty. Direct mail personalization is their preferred technique, with 62% of financial companies using personalized offers and 59% using personalized greetings or customer names:
Pro tip: Personalization can make customers feel valued and understood while building trust—key for customers making important financial decisions. Some brands include personalized URLs (PURLs) on their mailpieces. Often featuring the recipient’s name in the link, these customized URLs can lead to a personalized landing page—perhaps with tailored product recommendations or exclusive offers.
Retail companies, along with financial companies, use the most advertising channels in their campaigns, rating social media as the most effective channel. After health care brands, retail companies also report having the least expertise with direct mail—and perhaps relatedly, rate direct mail as less effective than businesses in other industries do.
Out of all direct mail techniques, retail companies leverage personalized offers—such as discounts or promos—more than businesses in other industries, with 69% of retailers using them. When retail companies use direct mail in their campaigns, it’s primarily to drive awareness:
Pro tip: Mail can be an effective tool at every stage of the customer journey. To drive growth and capture attention, use data to create marketing that speaks to different segments’ behaviors and interests—using online activity, email opens, prior purchases and more to inform your messaging and offers. Do your customers consistently buy from certain product lines? Do you have a lot of Gen Z buyers?
Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG)
CPG companies report having high expertise with direct mail, second only to financial businesses. These companies use direct mail more than any other industry surveyed and are the most likely to consider mail extremely important to their business. They also send out more direct mail campaigns per year than other industries and are the most likely to continue using mail in the future.
CPG companies typically use direct mail to drive awareness and are more likely than any other sector to use business-location-based imagery or a QR Code® in mail campaigns.
Pro tip: Including QR Codes on direct mail pieces makes it easy to integrate physical and digital media for effective omnichannel campaigns. Simply by scanning these barcodes with a smartphone or other smart device, customers can be led to your e-commerce store, social platform or any other digital channel. This makes it easy to increase engagement and keep customers in your brand ecosystem.
Rating direct mail as their most effective advertising channel, businesses in the insurance industry are more likely than any other sector to use mail as a standalone campaign, and typically use it to drive loyalty. They’re also the most likely to use personalized names or greetings in direct mail, with 72% of insurance companies doing so.
Insurance businesses are more likely than others to handle direct mail creative execution in-house, rather than working with outside agencies, and they usually use letters—as opposed to postcards, brochures, flyers, etc.—to get their message across.
Pro tip: Different mail formats are ideal for different purposes. While postcards are useful for announcing sales or getting messages across quickly, letters give you space to tell your story and convey more complex or involved messages. This can be especially important in the insurance industry, where customers need to be armed with all the information they need to make the right decision for themselves or their family.
Health companies report using the lowest number of advertising channels, with an average of 4.4, and consider social media the most effective. When health companies use mail, they use it primarily to drive growth, and consider it especially useful for engaging with hard-to-reach audiences.
Out of all the industries surveyed, companies in this sector report the least expertise with mail—and perhaps relatedly, are the most likely to use outside agencies for direct mail printing and creative execution.
Pro tip: Mail service providers can help with design, provide and/or manage an address list, print and/or presort your mailing, and more. Ad agencies can help you decide on a mail format, write and design your piece, and make sure it meets USPS requirements. In addition to standard printing tasks, printers can work with you on design, layout, and special features like bound pages.
With new marketing trends and innovations at every turn, it can be difficult to keep up. Savvy marketers depend on data to determine the best way forward for their specific sector, needs and goals.
Ready to explore further? Dive into our in-depth infographic with industry-by-insights on direct mail marketing.
- “Direct Mail Industry Research: Insights Report,” Summit Research for McCann Worldgroup, May 2023.
- QR Code is a registered trademark of DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED.