Ed #14 Getting Personal

Direct mail, 2010—myths and trends.

In these times of new channels and changing communication preferences, it’s important to point out a few misperceptions of direct mail that persist among many.

Myth 1:  Forests are being destroyed to produce catalogs and mailers. Readers of Ed #13 know that in the United States and increasingly worldwide, trees are a truly renewable resource. In fact, thanks to sustainable forestry practices, the amount of U.S. forestland has actually increased over the years. There are more forests in the United States today than 50 years ago and roughly the same acreage as 100 years ago7.

Myth 2: Catalogs and direct mail are difficult to recycle. In 2007, direct marketers received approval to include “recycle please” graphics on catalogs and mail pieces. Discarded catalogs, classified as “old magazines,” are valued for their long, strong fiber content and are used widely for recycled content in office paper and newsprint. NewPage uses old magazines to make deinked pulp for groundwood paper used in new magazines and catalogs.

81% of American households open direct mail.

Myth 3: Americans throw away most of the direct mail they receive, unopened. A 2006 USPS Household Diary Study8 found that only 16 percent of American households choose not to open direct mail. The vast majority, 81 percent, open and read or at least glance through the direct mail they receive.

Okay, that gets the myths out of the way. Here are some interesting trends:

A USADATA Special Report9 reflects increased sophistication and technological advances in data mining. Data enhancement is growing, with the addition of deeper demographic information, including age, gender, marital status and lifestyle interests, as well as ethnic background. The result is more detailed data that supports more precise targeting.

Even saturation lists—also known as “occupant” lists—are becoming more targeted. Traditionally used by companies to cover entire cities, counties or zip codes at a reduced rate, this approach now has new selection options that include median home value and household income, or can be focused on specific carrier routes.

The USADATA report also found that companies are increasingly integrating direct mail into other forms of marketing, particularly Web-based—such as a printed marketing piece that provides a personalized Web address (PURL) designed to deliver targeted information.

DMNews points to improved print and production technology as another force in the direct mail environment. The shift to digital printing represents a major change in the production of direct mail campaigns, providing greater flexibility and customization, faster turnaround, less waste and reduced inventory, which reduces both cost and environmental impact.

7. http://bit.ly/byjBZE
8. Ibid
9. http://bit.ly/ddNBKw


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