Direct Mail Success Trends: Opportunity for Change in 2021

One of the most frequently asked questions of SPC is “what ideas do you have to help improve our direct mail results?” In this blog, we highlight response driving ideas like technology integration, tactile engagement, inkjet web technology, and format testing. In addition, we provide a sneak peek at SPC’s forthcoming NEW format guide, which will give your marketing campaigns a fresh look, avoid format fatigue, and reduce mail box clutter.

Direct Mail Trends: 

1. Advertising Technology Integration

SPC is working closely with the USPS as they continue to add incentives that promote integrating new technologies into mail strategies. The objective is to continually find opportunities to generate higher response and remain relevant for audience engagement.

  • Informed Delivery– The USPS uses the technology of its automated mail sorting equipment to digitally image mail. It then provides the 30+ million ID users with these images prior to the mail delivery so they know what mail content they can expect to receive, before it actually hits the mailbox.  You can tap into this technology to enhance product offerings or drive traffic to your stores or websites.
  • Augmented Reality– More than QR codes, AR both heightens engagement with a mail piece and links it directly to the online channel to extend the sales process.
  • IP Targeting– This technology turns your mailing list into a digital address list, which you can use to execute an integrated campaign or create an online/offline experience.
  • Location Targeting – Send mail to new audiences by finding your ideal target where they work, shop or play—both online and off.

2. Tactile Engagement 

Another promotional opportunity with the USPS is the Tactile Engagement Promotion. Typically, starting in February, this USPS promotion incentivizes engagement of customers’ five senses with a 2% postal savings for certain mail pieces.

  • Specialty Inks – Adding an approved coating changes the “feel” of the mail piece and can result in a lift in response.
  • Specialty Papers – Utilizing an approved scented paper can entice the readers to seek the source of the smell and increase store traffic.
  • Interactive Elements – Employing an interactive mailer with an engaging pop-up or moving part can provide an element of fascination and intrigue while promoting an offer or event.

Take advantage of the postage discount opportunity and create excitement with your unique mail piece in the mailbox.

3. Inkjet Web Technology

Inkjet Web Technology is becoming increasingly more desirable. SPC’s customers utilize our inkjet web capabilities to enhance their direct marketing mail with truly customized, highly relevant offers for their customers.  The challenge is overcoming the fear of change or “status quo” as this approach requires a heightened understanding of your consumers’ mindsets and purchase history, and predictive modeling to deliver a more compelling mail experience.

  • Example – A company divided its customer base into three segments based on the customers’ degree of knowledge of the company’s products: advanced, intermediate, and beginner. The company utilized unique graphics and tailored its messaging so each customer received different offers based upon their level of product knowledge, their purchase history, and co-op opportunities that were available. This company has seen a 35% lift in response since launching this segmented approach with fully variable content incorporated into their program.

4. Format Testing

What better way to identify new market segments, refine previous campaigns, or develop new tactics than to test new formats? At the beginning of COVID we saw marketers move away from format testing, preferring instead to rely more heavily on their control package formats. Over the past few months, we have seen a return to format testing at pre-COVID levels, however, there hasn’t been a significant trend in the types of formats being tested. Consumer behaviors have changed definitively since the onset of COVID and marketers should consider this in their research and development.

Format testing provides customers with an amazing opportunity to use customer loyalty data to gain an advantage and make their campaigns more effective and drive a better ROI.

As promised, here’s a sneak peek at our new format guide launching Fall 2020.

The Stephenson Format



No one could have predicted the events of 2020, the impact they would have on consumers and their purchasing behaviors, or the challenges marketing to folks sheltering or working at home would present. SPC has attacked these issues with passion and creativity, resulting in ideas and formats integrating the USPS promotions with inspiring and impactful formats to enhance our customers’ direct mail marketing endeavors.

Stay tuned for more fresh formats to help inspire your marketing and creative teams. Want to see more now? Reach out to your SPC Rep today.


Ryan LeFebvre
Executive Vice President of Sales

Subscribe for updates

Subscribe for our "Direct to You News" to keep up-to-date with SPC’s latest articles including direct mail trends, innovating print technology as well as current events influencing the marketing industry.

* indicates required


Family Run. Forward Looking.


6019 W. Howard Street
Niles, IL 60714

Call us at 847.588.2580

Watch a sneak peek of SPC's Virtual Tour

Access to our file transfer system (FTP)