Direct Mail’s Impact During the 2020 Pandemic

Practically everything has been reevaluated during 2020, from the way we work to the way we buy cars. Marketing strategies are amongst the line items being examined in a new light. Specifically, now is an ideal time to look at the effectiveness of digital advertising versus more traditional methods like direct mail. Is one more effective than the other? And has the pandemic changed how Americans respond to promotional messaging?


Direct Mail’s Pre-Pandemic Advantages

Even before COVID-19 struck, direct mail enjoyed some unique advantages over more technological flavors of marketing. For example, direct mail is in a position to stand out due to the sheer quantity of it – or lack thereof. On average, 269 billion emails are sent each day versus USPS’s daily delivery of 472.1 million mail pieces.

With consumer sentiment, direct mail is the winner, too. Research published in 2017 found that 87 percent of consumers consider mail communications to be “believable,” while just 48 percent said the same about email.


How Direct Mail Stands Out When Everything Changes

Already, email outnumbers direct mail. With more Americans working from home, digital communications have only increased. This has led to digital marketing becoming less effective in some ways, as consumers grow numb to the electronic onslaught. Mail, on the other hand, stands out as a welcome break from endless screentime.

Better yet, the CDC and WHO were quick to announce that mail and packages pose little-to-no threat regarding COVID-19 transmission. With Americans still staying home more than usual, they are closer to the mailbox and more likely to keep an eye out for new mail as online ordering surges.

For companies choosing to use direct mail to reach customers in 2020, there are a few best practices to keep in mind:

  1. Make sure your messaging aligns with the uniqueness of 2020. What new needs might your customers have? How can your product address these? Be careful not to take advantage of the pandemic; rather, offer solutions that make your customers’ lives easier during a difficult year.
  2. Adhere to social distancing in imagery and messaging. Avoid photos with close contact, touching, and events. Even if they were taken pre-pandemic, they will come across as tone-deaf today.
  3. Show empathy toward customers. Including a simple line reminding customers that you are there for them and understand the challenges we’re all facing can have a profound effect on the image of your brand.

In conclusion, direct mail has seen its effectiveness increase even in the presence of digital alternatives. The events of 2020 only underscore the unique benefits physical mail still holds for dealers and marketers.