10 Direct Mail Trends that Have Dominated 2021

From QR Codes to Concise Copy

Direct mail trends can be difficult to forecast, and even harder to use correctly and efficiently. However, you’re in luck, because as direct mail experts, we’re providing you with the top 10 direct mail trends – from QR Codes to concise copy – that have and continue to dominate 2021.

1. QR Codes

In the last few years, QR codes have really built a name for themselves. Not only because of their quick, digital nature, and the 2% postage cost break that comes with them, but because of their data-backed effectiveness. When a QR code is included in a way that makes sense- it provides a time-saving benefit to the customer while letting the company lead their customer exactly where they’d like them to go.

Although the year 2020 was detrimental for most industries and marketing tools, the QR code flourished. During a time where we didn’t want to physically touch anything, QR codes made up for physical marketing pieces like menus, signage, print ads, and flyers, leading customers from physical to digital – and quickly. The more QRs were seen, the more used to them we became (similar to our newfound familiarity with masks and hand sanitizer). And they’re still going strong in 2021.

Like we said, QRs lead customers to wherever a company would like them to go. They can provide helpful information, send the customer to a website, or even lead them to purchase.

2. Postcards on the Rise

Envelopes – they’re great and all, but let’s be honest, they add a few seconds (at least) to the time it takes to open (and read) direct mail. These days, it’s often better to send a postcard due to its more creative, eye-catching nature and faster access to information. Making it easier to read your call-to-action can often make customers more likely to respond to an offer or even visit a website or landing page for more information. Plus, they’re lower in cost – which means a better chance of higher ROI for your campaigns. As you can see below, postcards pushed past self-mailers and envelopes this year by quite a bit.

3. B2B Dimensional Mailers

These fun, three-dimensional, interactive mailers are the perfect way to stand out and cut through the clutter of everyday mail. “On the B2B side, dimensional mail is working well; because we all receive so many packages today, prospects want to open it and see what’s inside,” says Grant Johnson, Owner and CEO of Responsory. Although more costly and demanding in terms of postal handling, dimensional mail has the best B2B response rate at 8.51%. Check out our blog on the best secrets to a successful dimensional mailer campaign to get started on your own.

4. Better Segmentation with Data

“Accessing 1st and 3rd party data to further segment an audience will continue to play a huge role in a DM campaign’s success. If you’re able to align targeted messaging and great creative with those different segments, then that’s a recipe for increased response rates. Furthermore, surrounding that DM send with a similar message/offer through various digital channels will only add to that campaign’s success. Being able to hone in on delivery dates and putting an emphasis on speed to market are big contributors to making a direct mail/digital integration program thrive.”

– Mike Efstathios, Business Development at ICS Corporation

Data, data, data. It’s all everyone can talk about these days – and for good reason. Enriching your data qualifies your audience, and in turn, increases your ROI. And, if your marketing strategy is multi- or omnichannel, the customer experience becomes even more successful. While better segmenting your data may cause your audience to shrink, it will definitely cause your engagement to grow. Like we always say – it’s better to target the right people than all the people.

5. Increased Personalization

88% of marketers recently reported seeing better campaign metrics after using personalization in their advertising. More than ever before, the need for marketers to make human connections is extremely relevant, and some may even say necessary. The majority of our population feels they’ve lost personal connections and relationships due to the pandemic. Because of this, 2020-2021 has been the time to make up for lost connections by personalizing materials to bond with your audience and make them feel seen, heard, and human. Check out our blog on the best ways to get personal, here.

6. Higher Response Rates

Since the beginning of 2021, we’ve seen a rise in direct mail response rates. Why? More time at home means more time to go through – and even pay attention to, mail. And as the trend of working from home and staying at home has continued and even increased, response rates don’t seem to be dwindling anytime soon.

However, high response rates don’t just come from people staying put. They come from quality tracking, targeting, design, and audience awareness. For more tactics to increase response rates, visit this blog.

7. Interactive Direct Mail

In today’s world, we’re surrounded by technology. And with all of this technology, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be incorporating it into our direct mail efforts. 2021 brought new technology and an abundance of data that empowers companies when targeting audiences and crafting content. Next time you’re sending direct mail – think about how far you can go with it. Can it include a scratch-off? A game? A free kit or item? A contest? It’s pretty limitless.

8. Digital Prompts

Direct mail isn’t only a way to reach customers, but an excellent way to reinforce online efforts. Simply use social icons, QR codes, or other prompts to send customers to social platforms, websites, menus, forms, landing pages – you name it! Marketers are definitely catching on to this direct mail tactic, as usage of digital prompts has doubled in the last four years. Take a look at the chart below to see how the use of digital interactions has increased.

9. Concise Copy

It’s one thing to know what you want to say, but knowing how to say it is the real key to direct mail effectiveness. Throughout 2021, we’re seeing shorter sentences, smaller paragraphs, fewer bullet points, and obvious CTAs. Your audience’s attention span is only so long, so catching the ears and eyes right away is crucial.

Below is a great example of how Amazon has practiced this and changed their copy to be more concise and clearer. Even at just a quick glance, the message is less overwhelming and more approachable.

Need some help with your direct mail copy? We’ve got a blog for you on ways to write action-inspiring content.

10. Investing in Direct Mail Tools

Although it’s not always top of mind, the right tools are one of the most important components of great direct mail. If you haven’t looked into or invested in marketing and data tools, you should be, because they can take your direct mail from general and stale to effective and exciting, and in turn, save you time and money. Instead of targeting the wrong contacts or using the wrong design elements, the right tools will ensure your mailer looks great and is sent to people who will actually open and engage with it.

Consider changing your format, ink, paper, or finish. Update your branding, content, or calls to action. Or, try technology like USPS Informed Delivery to reach consumers in a modern way.

So, there you have it! 10 effective direct mail trends that took off this year. If you’re interested in learning more about enhancing your direct mail, feel free to contact the experts at Strata. We’re happy to get you started with some great direct marketing materials.

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