4 Direct Marketing Diversification Trends You Need In 2022

Are you getting the most out of your printed marketing campaigns?



Mark Davis


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Direct marketing has graced our letterboxes, taken refuge in our mailboxes, and greeted us at our front porches since the mid-19th century. Throughout that time, industries and fashions have lived (and died) by its efforts. From the humble local takeaway menu to the mail order catalogue—not forgetting all the product advertisements—direct marketing comes in all shapes and sizes, featuring all kinds of messages, and is created by utilizing different areas of the print industry. And, according to a recent survey by the United States Postal Service, it’s going to keep on coming, and coming, and coming!



Despite mass digitization of marketing over the last 25 years, direct marketing has continued to grow in terms of uptake and consumer response. Response figures of 5% sales conversion (compared to 0.12% for e-mail marketing) highlight the desire for most of us to allow a tangible object to influence our purchasing decisions. It’s not just older generations who still want a more personal communication experience. The USPS survey discovered that 88% of millennials surveyed still look through their mail daily, and 59% find information received by mail more useful than via email or social media. For direct marketing specifically, 55% of millennials pay attention to direct mail advertising, and 67% are more likely to act on a piece of direct marketing compared to the Boomer or Gen X segments of the survey.


This means direct marketing is far from dead and that’s why it’s more important than ever to keep direct marketing interesting and fresh. Here are four top trends we’ve identified that are helping to diversify direct marketing this year.


1. Incentives From the USPS to Try Something New in 2022!

Recently releasing their promotions calendar, the USPS included initiatives for marketers to use digital technologies as part of their direct marketing campaigns this year. The hope is that this will keep direct marketing approaches fresh and entice recipients to engage with the mail piece. Discounted postal rates are offered to marketers who incorporate mobile-enabled features in their direct marketing, and the USPS is offering other promotions for the following initiatives:

  • Augmented reality (AR) functionality, allowing the recipient to see 3D digital images
  • Voice commands that enable a voice assistant to guide the recipient through an interactive process
  • Scannable features that trigger an interactive video experience
  • NFC clips embedded in the communication to share data with the recipient
  • QR codes, barcodes, digital watermarks, voice assistant commands, and image recognition features that promote mobile shopping experiences


2. 2022: The Year of the Postcard

The postcard. Another technology that shares timelines with direct marketing, the first known “postcard” sent in the US ironically contained printed advertising. Since then, the humble 3.5" x x 5" card continues to be used by holiday makers, writers, and marketeers alike to convey information.


So, why is this year deemed to be the year of the postcard? Acting on complaints from marketers that the size of the postcard was too small to make an impact on the doormat, the USPS upped the maximum size permitted for a First Class Mail postcard to 6" x 9". The bigger size enables more flexibility with the design to help increase engagement, as well as incorporate more interactive features the USPS is encouraging marketers to use. With supply chains for printed materials currently in crisis, the issue of raw materials facing marketers are side stepped with the use of the postcard. Less materials are needed, or more postcards can be produced for the same amount of materials available.


3. Smart, Trigger-Based Campaigns

An urban myth associated with direct marketing is that it’s virtually impossible to measure the success of a campaign. Unlike digital marketing, where measurement is possible for pretty much anything, it’s often incorrectly assumed that direct marketing is only useful for brand-awareness activities or one-off advertising messages. If you want a detailed analysis for a trigger campaign, you’re better off sticking with paid advertising and automated e-mail campaigns.


That’s not the case! Return on investment (ROI) is a great way to measure the success of your direct marketing campaign and, with the incorporation of digital technologies into the print mailing, it’s even easier to track engagement and run an automated, trigger campaign while still providing prospects with a personal, more special format of marketing.


4. Sustainability

It’s the buzzword that’s impacted every area of our lives over the last few years, but sustainability in direct marketing is not just critical from an ethical perspective…it can also help win you customer loyalty. Easy wins may already be within reach; only using materials from sustainably-sourced suppliers is something to shout about, and an asset consumers like to see. Other examples, such as making sure your print house uses environmentally-friendly inks, ensuring they reduce the amount of single-use plastic in the mail piece, and reducing the size of the piece to reduce CO2 in production are all things that can help make your direct marketing more sustainable.


One of the latest trends in sustainable direct marketing can be found in Canada at a direct mail house called Prime Data. Prime Data claims to have created the first carbon neutral direct mailing process in the world. By utilizing their research to implement new methods of transportation, logistics, and employee working, they aim to set a new standard for others in the industry to follow, proving that moves towards sustainability are possible.


Keypoint Intelligence Opinion

Although fashions come and go, direct marketing remains a constant in our lives. Keeping ideas fresh through the reinvention of concepts helps to keep consumers hooked. And, thanks to the pandemic, this is more important than ever. With more people working from home at least some of the week, more attention is paid to what arrives in the mail each day. This means that the opportunity to impress consumers with key marketing messages is much greater. Applying a mixture of the ideas mentioned here will help to keep your direct marketing in line with the latest developments, as well as prove that print can still stir strong emotions in consumers when trying to influence their purchase habits.


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