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The United States Postal Service (USPS) released their Annual Household Survey for the 2018 Fiscal Year. The Household Diary Study (HDS) started in 1987. It’s a multi-year research study that surveys over 5,200 households yearly to provide a comprehensive description of the mail going in and out of American households. This is crucial for direct mail marketers as this can help business owners decide if they will invest in advertising mail.


Here are the top 10 facts you should know if you’re planning to get into direct mail marketing:


11B Mail Pieces were Received in the United States


In 2018, USPS recorded around 115.9 billion pieces of mail were received in the United States. USPS identified these mailings into five different categories with Marketing Mail-Regular ranking the highest (around 55.8 billion pieces received). Second is First-Class Mail with 39 billion pieces received.


Volume of Snail Mail Delivered is Slowly Going Back Up


While mail volumes remain in decline, compared to previous years, the decrease of pieces delivered and marketing mail is minimal. In 2018, the decrease in pieces delivered is only at 2.1% and marketing mail only decreased by 1.4%. Something to spark a little hope and optimism to marketers.


Relationship Between Internet Access and Mails Sent


Those with higher income have a higher rate of internet access and receive the most mail. But what’s interesting is that this study revealed that those with the highest rate of internet access are also the ones who are sending the most mail. Those with low internet access are sending the least.


Household Paid 55% more Bills using the Internet vs. Mail


The USPS study revealed that 59% of consumers paid at least one bill via mail. However, this also implied that 41% of consumers are not using mail. Instead, it found that households paid 55% more bills using the Internet.


Increased Budget for Direct Mail Up by 1%


In the last three years, USPS found that the top three marketing channels with the highest budgets are Internet, TV, and Direct Mail. While Internet and TV budgets have significantly increased, the budget for Direct Mail only increased by 1% versus the previous year. However, factors like large events (elections and Olympics) can be considered to have an effect on the breakdown of the budgets.


Education is a Factor in the Amount of Mail Received


As one’s education, income, and age increases, so does the amount of advertising mail one receives. There are two reasons for this: 1.) Direct mail is a written form of communication. Education plays a role in its relative effectiveness versus radio or TV advertising; 2.) Education is tied to current and future household income.


Not All Mail is Read


While there were 115 billion pieces of mail received in 2018, households do not read all of it. USPS discovered that 49% of mail received was read and 26% of it was not read or interacted with.


Amount of Mail Received Affects Customer Interest


There is a higher possibility for customers to ignore their mail if they receive a bunch of it on a regular basis. Households receiving 0-7 pieces of mail weekly read about 15% of their received mail while those who are receiving 16-17 pieces only read 9% of mails they receive.


However, it is also safe to say that about 50% of households usually read all or some of their mail. Also, the percent of participants that don’t usually read advertising mail is about the same regardless of the mail volume they receive.


Lower Income Households Read More Advertising Mail


Since lower income households receive less advertising mail compared to wealthy counterparts, they have higher tendencies to interact with it. When it comes to age, older household heads read more advertising mail compared to their younger counterparts.