Direct Mail Outlook : Mail Continues to DeliverDecember 2013 By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor
That the direct mail marketing sector has any reason to foster optimism is nothing short of a miracle. And it is really a testament to the small clique of major mail print production and processing firms that have enabled the space to continue producing results that still make it one of the most viable marketing channels available.
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is certainly not doing the direct mail space any favors, requesting an exigent rate increase of 4.3 percent. With postage taking up the better part of 60 percent from the direct mail marketing spend, there's less and less meat on the bone. But the USPS has its own problems, and thus far nothing Postmaster Patrick Donahoe has done could spur Congress into addressing the issue of postal reform.
Yet, the sector keeps plugging along, fighting off the troubled Mr. ZIP and alternative, online marketing channels to remain an attractive and viable option for marketers to showcase their products and services. According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), expenditures in the United States are expected to rise to $196 billion by 2016, which represents a 3.8 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2011. In fact, more households read advertising mail now than they did 25 years ago. And debunking the myth that direct mail is your father's/mother's method of shopping, the DMA found that the 22- to 24-year-old age cohort is the most likely to respond to a direct mail piece.
Sophisticated Data Needs
Daniel Thornton, president of RR Donnelley's Response Marketing Services, says that print budgets are required to deliver positive results. He notes that the Chicago-based printer is seeing a trend toward mail packages with sophisticated data requirements, an increased use of two- and four-color variable imaging, and a decrease in components and package dimensions.
"Complex imaging requirements are being driven by the industry's desire to integrate and use large amounts of consumer data points," Thornton notes. "Leveraging strategic investments in data analytics, predictive modeling and list procurement, RR Donnelley helps marketers mail smarter by coupling its investments with data, content and personalization strategies."
RR Donnelley continues to make investments in its ProteusJet Multiweb variable color imaging technology. The proprietary technology provides full-page, 100 percent customization, eliminating the need for print versioning, plate changes and the small postal strings which, at low densities, increase cost.