The national direct mail database Who’s Mailing What! (WMW!) recently analyzed its database of more than 130,000 mail pieces to find the strongest, most consistent direct mail trends over the past 20 years. We’ve picked five that we think are most relevant to small to mid-sized businesses. How many of these do you see in your own marketing?

1. Postcards are on the rise

Between 2009–2021, the number of postcards being mailed increased by approximately 20%, while self-mailers and envelopes declined slightly. This trend is in line with the next one, which is … 

2. Businesses are using less copy 

Over the past 20 years, WMW! found that the number of words used in direct mail pieces has declined, on average, by 62%. Direct mail is also using shorter sentences, more concise paragraphs, and bullet points. Many campaigns have replaced text with images, charts, and graphics that provide quick, easy comprehension in today’s fast-paced world.

3. Focus on print-to-digital

Whether businesses are engaging with their audiences with QR Codes or driving them online to their websites or social media channels, the interaction between print and digital channels is rocketing. The use of user names (@username), QR Codes, and digital CTAs such as “follow us” or “visit our website” have doubled in the past four years. 

4. Sustainability messaging is hot

Buyers care about the environment, and they appreciate brands that show they care, too. The WMW! database was established 20 years ago, and of the direct mail messaging that contains a sustainability element, 75% has come in the last five years. 

5. Even young companies are using direct mail

When WMW! looked at the age of the companies in its direct mail database, it found that the percentage of companies founded in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s was nearly identical. Very young companies like Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Payson are all using direct mail.

Why has direct mail remained strong, even in the age of digital? Who’s Mailing What! editors wrapped it up concisely: 

  • Done right, it has a higher response rate than digital channels. 
  • It reaches audiences that digital channels don’t.
  • Using paper, ink, and interesting finishing, even young companies can stand out from their older, more established competitors.

 The numbers don’t lie – direct mail still works!