Direct Mail is not going away any time soon, but there is no question that it is changing. Over the next several years, we can expect that direct mail will allow us to greatly increase the connections we build today. We will engage our audiences in ways we never realized.
Our focus on changes in the industry is usually based on what the market is asking for. Henry Ford once said as he was building his first automobile, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” He didn’t see any faster horses in his crystal ball.
There’s one thing you can count on in our industry; the pace of change will only accelerate faster from here. The direct mail industry is undergoing constant change; you can bet that industry mail leaders will continue to avail themselves with every available tool to deliver the most dynamic, most welcome, and most personal communications possible.
Every mail piece will start as a plain piece of white paper, and every component, from the envelope, letter and insert, will be digitally printed and assembled as part of a single in-line operation. Software advancements will make it possible to make automatic real-time decisions on content and page layout based on the recipients’ potential ROI.
Marketers already recognize that direct mail is a visual media – but the most compelling sales pitches will utilize bold, personalized imagery. Mailers will take advantage of more relevant, more targeted messaging and imagery on envelopes—with equally convincing relevant content inside that designed to please the recipient.
With the volume of available data doubling every 18 months, analytics will take center stage in targeting. Direct mailers will be crunching data right up until the moment a mail piece is produced—continually fine-tuning models to pinpoint most likely responders. Tracking information will feed directly into centralized communication dashboards, providing the insights to make instant adjustments that will improve ROI.
Mail will be linked to online experiences—through widgets and apps that have not even been invented yet—they will serve to increase the impact of mail. The explosion of digital communications will extend the life and value of a printed mail piece in many ways, opening the door to an infinite array of videos, online content, demos and information—each tailored, customized and targeted to the individual mail recipient.
Targeted mail lists are already getting smaller. We can look forward to a day when single-piece jobs may well become the norm.
All of these capabilities will provide for a new level of intimacy with prospects and customers as mailings can be produced and delivered in direct response to actions and events.
In conclusion, some of you will view the next few years as a time of challenges and frustrations. Others will see innovation, growth and higher profitability.
So the question is: What’s in your crystal ball?