After experiencing a notable decline in both spending and volume in 2020, direct mail looks as though it recovered somewhat last year. Per a report from Winterberry Group, direct mail volume grew by 4.7% year-over-year in 2021.
While the steep decline in direct mail volume in 2020 can be tied to the pandemic, the number of pieces of mail marketers sent out was already on the decline. And, although the nearly 5% increase in volume last year indicates that marketers still see direct mail as a viable form of advertising that consumers are receptive to, the 70.2 million pieces of mail sent out in 2021 remain well below pre-pandemic volumes.
Like most other forms of offline media, spending on direct mail experienced growth in 2021. The year-over-year (y-o-y) growth of 10.4% resulted in total spending on direct mail reaching $41.9 billion. This exceeds the $41.2 billion spent in 2019. The growth is expected to continue this year, albeit at a slower rate, (+3.5% to reach $43.4 billion).
Direct mail is considered one of the channels least affected by tightening data privacy regulations, and there are also some US advertisers that see it as a viable solution to grow or enhance first-party data. Per Winterberry Group’s report, total US spending on data, identity data services and platforms — which “includes analytics (modeling, measurement and attribution), spend on CRM, CDP and DMP platforms, data management and hygiene, excludes cloud hosting services” — grew by 25.6% y-o-y to reach $29.3 billion. Spending on direct mail represents $8.2 billion of that total, an increase of 4.5% y-o-y, which is more than spending in this area on TV (linear, addressable and CTV) and email combined.
This year, direct mail is estimated to account for $8.5 billion of the projected total spending on data, identity, data services and platforms ($33.1 billion), representing a y-o-y increase of 3.5%.
Find the full report here.