We tend to view the direct mail industry as a whole, including the myriad trends that we glimpse in the flowing mailstream. But the reality is that each vertical — such as nonprofits or travel — can be rather different is how it’s using mail in terms of format type, format size and personalization, for example.
Reviewing mailing data (from our gigantic archive of direct mail, Who’s Mailing What!) from the first six months of 2013 and comparing it to 2012 and 2011 reveals that six of the major direct mail verticals belong in two big buckets:
- Insurance, Financial Services & Nonprofits
- Travel, Professional Services & Retail
In other words, the industries in each respective big bucket has a lot in common with each other, but not much compared to industries in the opposing big bucket. With that in mind, let’s look at each big bucket separately.
INSURANCE, FINANCIAL SERVICES & NONPROFITS
1. Domination By the Medium-Sized Envelope
At present, envelope format takes up 83 percent of the mailstream (and at 95 percent, it’s nearly the only format that Nonprofits use). And among envelopes, medium-sized ones (#10 to 6″x9″x) averages over 88 percent and remains steady in Financial Services and Nonprofits, but experienced a recent drop in Insurance.
2. Self-Mailers and Postcards Are Still Trying to Find Their Way
While postcards grew to 7 percent in 2013 in insurance mail – and that’s double the percentage from 2011-12 — it steadily dropped in usage from 2011 (5.3 percent) to 2012 (3.9 percent) to 2013 (1.8 percent). Meanwhile, nonprofits barely recognize the format, going below 3 percent usage in all three years.
Self-mailers suffered a similar fate, but with no increases in these three verticals. While steady in insurance mail at just over 7 percent, it declined from the respectable share of 14 percent in 2011 to 11 percent so far this year — and like postcards, nonprofits are only responsible for under 3 percent usage.