How to Tap Into Mail-Intensive Verticals

The printing industry and traditional mailing are often incorrectly portrayed as out of sync with modern consumer preferences, when in fact, there are significant verticals where consumers still prefer tangible, hard copies. Americans still send billions upon billions of pieces of mail each year. Printing and mailing volumes aren’t going to disappear overnight, and there are untapped opportunities for office technology dealers willing to offer comprehensive, integrated printing and mailing solutions to these mailing-intensive industries.

The direct mail opportunity

Direct marketers sent out more than 28.4 billion pieces of mail in 2023, according to the Direct Mail Trends report. Direct mail marketing is often misunderstood as the snail mail equivalent of email spam, ignored and discarded by recipients and rapidly forgotten. But the fact of the matter is that direct mail is surprisingly impactful, with 64% of consumers reporting that direct mail inspired them to take action, according to a survey by Lob. Additionally, three-quarters (74%) of marketers told Lob that direct mail provided the highest response rate, conversion rate, and overall return on investment of any media channel. While direct mail was less impactful with younger consumers, it remains a potent marketing tool for a variety of industries, particularly those interested in consumers aged 55 and up. Even then, QR codes and other features still make direct mail a potent way to engage Gen Z and millennials. Ultimately, direct mail is only a fraction of overall mailing volume, but it’s representative of larger trends and indicates where dealers should focus.

What the office technology industry can provide

The office technology industry has traditionally supported customer mailing needs with printing products and services, enabling their clients to economically print the volume they need to reach their customers. But this should only be the starting point. Dealers can expand their print offerings to cover the entire mailing cycle. For example, they can offer folder inserters that are faster and more affordable than manual labor, automatic labeling and sorting, or even software that tracks letters or packages. Mailing services like this are especially valuable for high-mailing volume industries such as health care or education, where accuracy and privacy are critical to clients. Finally, the USPS is in the process of transitioning and upgrading its postage meters – leased devices that print postage directly onto mail. This means that on December 31, 2024, older technology postage meters will no longer be valid, with June 2025 being the cutoff to send any mail with postage printed on decertified meters.

Verticals to prioritize

Letters and envelopes make up 43% of all packages sent in the US. But despite the sheer volume of direct mail marketing sent out each year, a couple of key verticals are what truly drive this industry. In Q4 2023, retail and consumer services were the largest drivers, accounting for 21.2% and nearly 1.4 billion pieces of mail. The other major contributors were mortgage and loan (19.4%), credit cards (17.7%), insurance (15.4%) and telecom (9%). Looking to the future, nonprofits saw an increase in yearly volume of 128.6%, and while credit card mailers were down 25% YoY, they showed 8% growth over the previous quarter, with 90% of them acquisition mailings. If there’s a common theme in the verticals that align most with mailing, it’s that these verticals are more reliant on trust; for example, consumers still often prefer hard copies when dealing with financial matters, bills, or legal communications.

The USPS Is on your side

The United States Postal Service is well aware of the challenges the mailing industry has faced in recent years, and it’s increasingly working to incentivize mailing. Over the summer, the USPS proposed the new Mail Growth Incentives program for both marketing mail and first-class mail. The program uses 2023 mailing volume or 1 million pieces of mail from mailers – whichever is greater – to set a baseline. Those companies will receive a 30% credit on future mailing volume after July 2024 for anything over that threshold, paid out in three installments; these credits must be used by the end of 2025. It’s a significant incentive for companies looking to break into or expand their direct mailing efforts, one that builds on various other financial incentives for direct mailers.

Don’t ignore a clear opportunity

With Americans still mailing well over 100 billion pieces of mail each year, it’s safe to say the mailing industry is here to stay. Leaning into supporting client needs is not only a way to maximize print revenue but also to diversify into other products and services.

Managing Director at | Posts

Michael B. Hannon is an executive leader with extensive experience within the mailing equipment and financial services industries. Taking on the role of managing director in early 2020, he is responsible for all aspects of FP’s North American regional operations. Having moved up through the company, beginning in sales in 2007, he has a very hands-on, customer-centric and sales-focused approach. Gaining knowledge of the industry throughout his career, he has been able to develop and implement numerous processes and programs, like FP Finance and sales process automation, that have improved both sales and operations, leading to FP’s continuous growth in the region.