matt whipple on covid 19's impact on direct mail

7 Insider Observations and Thoughts about COVID-19’s Impact on Direct Mail

  1. Observation – There is talk about the USPS shutting down due to a lack of volume and revenue.
    • Thought – This isn’t the first time the USPS has had a cash flow issue. The USPS is too big to fail and the government will step in if necessary.
  2. Observation – Decision time is coming for delayed March and April mailings
    • Thought – For brands that had printed and addressed mail held at the letter shop the 95 day NCOA window is closing and they will be forced to either mail or discard the printed pieces. Make sure you know key deadlines and don’t forget about offer expiration dates.
  1. Observation – Limited paper options in catalog and to a lesser extent DM due to campaign holds.
    • Thought – Catalog paper backups are expected with longer press times and uncertainty around turning marketing back on. DM backups should vary depending on the type of work traditionally produced at a facility (banking/insurance vs. retail/D2C).  The sooner you can plan and commit to relaunch the better.
  1. Observation – Brands are looking into why things worked rather than what worked.
    • Thought – Data driven marketers often can tell you what test in a campaign performed the best and drive efficiencies through those learnings. This down time is allowing marketers to go a layer or two deeper, which will produce more efficiencies in the future.
  1. Observation – Exploratory analysis is increasing.
    • Thought – This is great to see. Now is the time to find answers to questions we didn’t know existed.  This will have a positive impact on future campaigns and continue to make the channel more efficient.
  1. Observation – Chicken (budgets) or the egg (press and paper availability) when it comes to relaunch.
    • Thought – Brands that want to be first movers when things pick up again need to make commitments now. This allows your data and print partners to appropriately allocate time and resources to your future campaigns and will avoid unnecessary confusion when it’s time to go live.
  1. Observation – DM is not immune from COVID-19 related layoffs.
    • Thought – Some great DM marketers will be looking for a new job at the end of this. The talent pool continues to be very thin when it comes to people that know how to manage the channel at a large scale.  Consider someone with a DM background for roles within your company.  They will have the ability to manage variable budgets with a high degree of accuracy and are adept at deep dive analytics that improve marketing ROI.