How Has Covid-19 Affected Direct Mail Campaigns?

How Has Covid-19 Affected Direct Mail Campaigns?

The SARs-COV2 coronavirus has sunk its teeth into every sector of the world economy, and the business mail industry is no exception. However, the pandemic hasn’t spelt bad news for every sector, and the effect of Covid-19 on direct mail campaigns has been ambivalent. Some businesses have seen a massive drop in demand (formalwear mail order catalogues, anyone?), while others have seen an increase in direct mail responses compared to before the pandemic. Let’s take a look at how Covid-19 has changed the landscape for direct mail campaigns, in terms of both sender expectations and customer experience, and how brands can take advantage of these developments.

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Charity direct mail campaign effectiveness

Charities are big users of postal direct mail and some of the UK’s leading charitable brands saw record response rates during the 2020 lockdown. This was good news for charities, most of whom saw a big general drop in fundraising income from the cancellation of sponsorships and community events. Some charities reported a response rate during the first lockdown of up to 9% – compared to the 4% industry average. Pass-on rate was also up in 2020, with up to 10% of people passing on charity direct mail material in some campaigns – further increasing the chance of donations. Wastage rates were down, too. On average, only 5% of charity direct mailings were disposed of without opening, again a lower figure than in previous years.

There are several suggested reasons for this success: Firstly, people being at home for longer periods provided more opportunities to peruse postal mail that may otherwise have been disposed of. People may have been more excited to receive physical mail during lockdown because of boredom. Another reason may be a general uptick in compassion due to the trauma of the pandemic. Charities that provided direct support to people on the front line of the crisis, such as medical personnel, isolated older adults, and homeless people, were particular beneficiaries of increased charitable giving.

How effective are direct mail campaigns in the private sector?

The picture for non-charitable organisations is more mixed. Many businesses in the leisure industry and other consumer goods sectors chose to suspend tactical marketing in April 2020, and there is no doubt that demand dropped in several important areas. B2B direct mail was also adversely affected by most offices being closed sporadically throughout the year. That being said, some brands achieved excellent results by targeting tangible direct mail at business decision-makers at their home addresses.

According to the JICMAIL report, released in August 2020;

  • Overall interactions with direct mail items were up 11% in 2020 – the highest rate since 2017 – at 4.58 interactions per item.
  • The in-home lifespan of a direct mail piece increased to 9.5 days in 2020, a year-on-year increase of 45% since Q2 2019.
  • The overall volume of direct mail dropped by 41% for business mail, but increased by 4% for charities.

Despite the drop in volume of direct mail sent in 2020, revenue from door drops was up on figures from previous years. The Direct Marketing Association’s 2020 Annual Door Drop Industry Report reported an increased total revenue up from £258 million in 2018.

What’s the verdict?

These are not normal times, and companies should be hesitant about replicating results from the pandemic in subsequent years. However, the resilience of direct mail campaigns in 2020 showed beyond doubt that tangible marketing is still relevant in the age of digital. People are willing to spend generously in response to postal direct mail, and tangible marketing offers an excellent return on investment to brands that respond to the purchase behaviours and concerns of their target market.

Since the pandemic, people have changed the way they shop, and after lockdown, although there will be a long-awaited and excited return to physically visiting retailers, consumers have become much more comfortable and receptive to online purchasing, which is why direct mail will be so important in the future.

Eagle Envelopes are your go-to for tangible marketing methods, including branded and overprinted envelopes. Get in touch to find out more.

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