The mailbox cannot live by ad mail alone. It needs other types of mail to boost ad mail’s effectiveness.
That’s the key finding from our recent white paper, Advertising Mail: Mail Mix Matters. 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 First-Class Mail and Periodicals (such as a magazine) proved effective in driving those outcomes.
Advertising mail makes up more than half of Postal Service volume. Its revenues were $20 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2017, or 29 percent of total Postal Service revenue. Given ad mail’s importance to both the Postal Service and marketers, we sought to determine what factors enhance the three “R’s” of advertising mail effectiveness: reading, reaction and response. Working with RCF Economic and Financial Consulting, we analyzed five years’ worth of data from the Household Diary Study – an annual report USPS publishes on the contents of 5,200 households’ mailbox.
Other factors, of course, influence reading, reaction, and response. For example, the presence of a coupon was most important, significantly raising the reading, positive reaction, and response rates, with the strongest impact on the response rate. And the shape of the piece matters too. Flats are more likely to be read and generate a positive response than letters.
One surprise in our findings: First-Class transactions mail, such as bills and statements, proved a more important driver of household reading and reaction to advertising mail than correspondence mail, such as personal letters and business correspondence.
Our findings highlight the importance of promoting all segments of mail. The Postal Service should continue to support advertising mail, of course, but also work to increase First-Class Mail or Periodicals volumes – or at least slow their decline. The future of ad mail depends on it.
Do our findings surprise you? Do you have any theories on why the presence of other mail lifts ad mail?