We know that having a variety of mail in the mailbox boosts ad mail’s effectiveness. And our recent research on the mail mix showed that.

But we don’t necessarily know why. That was one of the many questions raised and discussed by a panel of experts and about 50 attendees at our recent forum on the study, Advertising Mail: Mail Mix Matters.

As a previous blog explained, our research indicated that the presence of a non-advertising mailpiece in the mailbox enhances the likelihood that a person will read, positively react to, and respond to a piece of advertising mail. Both Periodicals (such as a magazine) and First-Class Mail proved effective in driving those outcomes, with bills and statements (transactions) being a more important driver than personal letters and business correspondence.

Attendees had some theories on why. One thought is that transactional mail, which is often a bill, must be acted on. Thus, the recipient carries that attention and “action mode” over to the advertising mail in the pile.

Another series of questions focused on the study’s finding that mail shape also matters. Flats are more likely to be read and generate a positive response than letters. Is it the content in flats or their shape that gets them opened and acted on more frequently than Marketing Mail letters?

Finally, attendees focused on aspects of the study that considered how Millennials respond to mail. The findings were consistent with the view that older people are generally more receptive to mail than younger people. But one panelist asked whether the mail habits of Millennials will change as they get older to look more like the practices of Baby Boomers. Or, will Millennials retain their “young” practices?

That’s a question that only time – and study – can answer. But it’s important to keep in mind given the size of the Millennial demographic and its importance to the economy and, ultimately, the Postal Service.

Why do you think First Class transactional mail is a stronger driver for households to read and react to ad mail than correspondence mail? Do you think the mail habits of Millennials will change as they age or stay the same?

Comments (7)

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  • anon

    Mail is always late: mailman has been seen smoking cigarettes in truck, on cell phone in truck . So to me these seem like contributing factors as to why mail is always late or before closing of the business day.

    Aug 16, 2019
  • anon

    Maybe, but then again the carrier might be on one of his two 10 minute breaks or his 30 minute lunch and your location is the point he takes one of those breaks at. In any case he has a GPS tracker on him and teams of management who used to be clerks processing mail before a machine took their job, watching computer tracks looking for carriers with "stationary events". In looking at the carrier for minutes you are missing the big picture of hours later starting times to accommodate just in time mail processing. Instead of leaving early and differing advertising mail to the next day, if needed, now everything is forced to go "every piece every day" if it can be processed just in time for a carrier to get the express mail out by noon. Thus instead of the base route ending at 3 PM and carriers still working until 5 PM on overtime to cover vacant assignments the base day now ends at 5 PM with carriers out until 7 or 9 PM.

    Aug 21, 2019
  • anon

    Will Millenials make greater use of Mail when they’re older? Not likely. Why would they? I’m a union member because I learned in school why being an employee is better with a union. The USPS is making no effort to give individuals a reason why to use Mail.

    Aug 13, 2019
  • anon

    I think the younger generation will lose all interest in mail because of cellphone texting and social media. They grew up with it and snail mail is old fashion. That's what grandma uses.

    Aug 13, 2019
  • anon

    I think social media keeps people updated on "relational news" , so First Class correspondence mail tends to be less relevant. Transactional mail, like it or not, ends up needing a response.

    Aug 13, 2019
  • anon

    Did you consider nonprofit fundraising/membership/call to action mail as a category? We believe that many recipients are interested in and even inspired by mail from causes that they care deeply about and support with donations.

    Aug 12, 2019
  • anon

    Thank you for your question Stephen. Indeed, we did study what impact sender characteristics — in this case, nonprofit mailings – had on the effectiveness of advertising mail. We found that households are significantly more likely to read, react positively, and respond to mail sent using nonprofit postage. We found that the strongest effect is on reaction, suggesting that even when households do not respond to nonprofit mailings they still view these mailings positively. You can find details in the full report.

    Aug 20, 2019

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