Direct mail marketing for COVID-19 business recovery

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have experienced some degree of a lockdown or stay-at-home mandate for 3 months or longer and, as we’re sure you’re well aware, these shutdowns and lockdowns have led to an unprecedented drop in business across the country. And, while some of the restrictions are starting to lift as parts of the country enter various Stage 1 and Stage 2 re-openings, there are still millions of people working from home and generally staying home altogether. So, although their restaurant or store or salon or shop may be open for business, many owners are struggling with how they let their customers and neighbors know they’re open and in what capacity they can operate. 

On the other side of that equation are the consumers and customers themselves.  They want information on who’s open, is there indoor or outdoor seating, are there safety measures in place, can they go in the store or is it curbside pickup, and many, many more. The businesses that can answer those questions and provide that information quickly and efficiently to the consumers are going to be the ones who get off to grand re-openings.

So, how can businesses take advantage of this situation? How can they let their customers and prospective customers know when and in what capacity they’re open for business?  One of the best ways to reach customers is still direct mail. Putting a physical piece of mail in someone’s hands, especially a well-designed piece, is absolutely the best way to get attention and elicit a response from the consumer.  You want people to come into your restaurant and have a burger and a beer?  Include a picture of a burger fresh off the grill sitting next to a frosty cold beer. Whose eye wouldn’t be caught by that?

As for the numbers, over $35 billion is spent every year on direct mail advertising in the US. Advertisers spend an average of $167 per person on direct mail advertising but earn an average of $2095 from products sold through direct mail per person. That’s a significant return on investment.

When we look at the statistics, it becomes quite obvious. A direct mail piece can have an open rate of up to 90%. And on average, 42% of people who receive direct mail don’t just open it, but scan or read the mail they receive. Response rates are extremely high for direct mail as well. Prospect lists have an average response rate of 4.9%, and using a targeted list increases the rate to 9%. Adding personalization to a mail piece can increase response rates by 135%!

Next, when you integrate your direct mail efforts into a multi-channel marketing strategy, your message is more than twice as likely to be effective. Combining email with digital channels such as email, display, and other digital channels can make messaging incredibly effective. You can even integrate digital channels directly into the mail stream through the use of Informed Delivery Campaigns, which allow you to embed digital ads in the ID notification system.

Using Your Own Mailing Lists

If you’re using your own list for a direct mail campaign, the most important thing you can do is properly prepare your mailing lists. Ensuring your data has correct and current addresses for your contacts is vitally important. It’s pretty straightforward logic:  if the customer doesn’t receive the piece, they can’t open it, they can’t read it, they can’t respond to it - it just won’t work. Incorrect address data is a huge problem, as the USPS estimates that up to 10% of all marketing mail sent in the U.S. is undeliverable-as-addressed (UAA). Cleaning your mailing list with a CASS certified address validation tool (such as MaxCASS from Anchor) is the first step in ensuring the accuracy of your list.

You can also take advantage of the USPS Change of Address database. Every year, the Post Office receives over 40 million change-of-address forms. On top of that, it’s estimated that there are roughly 25 million more moves that aren’t reported. In addition, every year there are approximately 2 million marriages, 1 million divorces, 4 million births, and 2.5 million deaths. Effectively, 1% to 2% of the population of the U.S. will see their contact data change in some form every month. Change-of-address (a/k/a “move update”) processing ensures that the addresses on your list are as current as possible. If you don’t have a USPS NCOA license to process files in-house, there are many 3rd party services you can use for USPS move update processing. And, to address the 25 million unreported moves every year you can find a service provider that also offers a Proprietary Change of Address (PCOA) service (similar to Anchor’s MaxCOA service) to try and catch every move possible.

Follow this up with a strong merge/purge routine, which is a process that uses a specialized program to remove duplicates from your data file. You can further refine your list with additional processing, such as suppressing files on the DMAs Pander list or using a tool that identifies and removes the names of anyone who is reported as deceased. Cleaning your list ensures you only send out 1 piece to the intended recipient at the correct and current address thereby saving you money on unnecessary printing, postage, and fees.

USPS Services and Promotions for Marketing Mail

The United States Postal Service has several services you can use to promote your business, and many are free to use. For example, the Informed Delivery (ID) program allows you to conduct marketing campaigns through the ID system. When the consumer receives their daily email with the scanned image of the mail piece, they also receive an associated display ad similar to what you see on websites. The message includes a link to a website or landing page, and you can even enhance the black-and-white scan with a color version of your marketing piece. Informed Delivery Campaigns amount to an all-in-one multi-channel marketing campaign, incorporating direct mail, email, and web-based advertising.

The USPS is offering an Informed Delivery Promotion from September 1 through November 31, 2020. This program offers a 2% discount on postage for business mailers who launch Informed Delivery interactive campaigns with their physical mailpieces to reach and engage customers.

To use ID campaigns, you will need to use Intelligent Mail barcodes, which adds a trackable barcode to each mailpiece. Using the IMb not only lets you take deeper postage discounts on your mail, but it allows you to track each mailpiece so you know when each piece is delivered. You can use software such as Anchor’s SmartBarcode Manager and Snailworks Mail Tracking to add, manage, and track your barcodes when producing your mail.

Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) is another USPS program that can be incorporated into your direct mail strategy. The EDDM program allows you to send your marketing piece to every residential address in a specified ZIP code. This is a particularly effective program for local businesses, allowing them to blanket their local areas with advertising. When you use EDDM, you can choose a single ZIP or multiple areas. Costs are based on how many addresses are in the chosen ZIP codes. You will still have to produce your marketing pieces at a service bureau or print shop, but once you have them printed the USPS does all the work.

Personalization and USPS Mail Promotion

Personalization, or the addition of information about the individual to the marketing piece, is a tactic that can be used to increase response rates by an average of 35%. Most people are familiar with the ‘mail merge’ functions in word processing programs, and personalization uses similar techniques. The simplest form of personalization is simply adding the name of the customer to the marketing piece. But you can also add any number of other personal data points to your piece.

The USPS is running the Personalized Color Transpromo Promotion from July 1 to the end of 2020. This program offers a 2% discount on marketing mail that incorporates marketing messages using color, dynamic variable print, and personalization. You not only get the increased response from using personalization, but you also receive a discount on postage when you send out your mail.

If you want to go high tech with your mail, you can take advantage of the USPS 2020 Emerging and Advanced Technology Promotion. This promotion is designed to ensure that direct mail continues to be a relevant part of the marketing mix. It gives you discounts on your postage if you incorporate technologies such as “Enhanced” Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality, Near Field Communication (NFC), Video in Print (ViP) featuring Shoppable Video, Integration with Voice Assistants, and Digital to Direct Mail technology application in your mail campaigns. For most small businesses the investment in the development of this type of content might be too costly, but it could be an option for many medium to larger organizations, especially those who are already in the computer or technical industries.

Get Started Now

Take advantage of the slowdown in the world to investigate all the opportunities presented to you by incorporating direct mail into your marketing efforts.  Get started now so you can be ready to go as the world gets back into full swing.  Become a fully capable multi-channel marketing expert and save money and improve response rates as you go.  And, don’t forget… Anchor Software is here to help. Our direct mail experts are here to discuss all of your options with you. Call us at 1-800-237-1921 or fill out the Contact Request box below.




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