All Blogs

USPS Study: Direct Mail Still Works

Aug 02, 2010

The USPS 2009 Household Diary Study: Direct Mail Still Works

There's no denying that the volume of mail sent by households and businesses has declined - in part because of the recession and in part because of the rising popularity of e-mail and online bill payment. Yet the U.S. Postal Service's annual survey of households reveals good news for direct mail, too. And, more importantly, the survey highlights the reasons why direct mail is (and should be) a valuable part of any business's communications toolbox.

Transactional mail

The 2009 Household Diary Study makes clear that households and businesses are increasingly relying on e-mail and the Internet for transactional communications (bills, statements, confirmations, rebates, requests for donation). The total transactional mail volume sent and received by households decreased 9.4% between 2007 and 2009. Yet 87% of households still pay at least one bill per month by mail.

The largest single category of transactional mail is bills (45% of the total). And while many large companies have found it cost-effective to offer customers the option of receiving, and paying, bills electronically, smaller businesses and non-profit organizations may not be able to support such services. In those cases, direct mail remains the clear choice for sending and receiving bills, bill payments, account statements, donation requests, and other types of transactional mail. makes transactional mail easy for any organization. If you've got a single invoice to send, Mailing Online is a quick and easy tool for uploading your invoice template, customizing it per recipient, and clicking to mail via Click2Mail. If you send periodic batches of invoices, statements, or donation requests, our Application Programming Interface (API) may make it easier to integrate our printing and mailing services into your own system. For more information contact us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Advertising mail

The best news in the Household Diary Study came from the advertising market: "Despite many changes to the U.S. economy over the past few years, and particularly in 2009, direct mail continues to be one of the most popular advertising choices." In fact, direct mail's share of businesses' advertising spending has been increasing steadily over the past two decades, to 12% in 2009.

At 59% of the total, advertising represented the largest single type of mail households received in 2009. Businesses continue to send such huge volumes of advertising mail because it works. Consider:

  • 79% of households either read or scan the advertising mail they receive
  • Households report that they intend to respond to 12% of all Standard Mail pieces, and will "maybe" respond to another 16%
  • Not all mail is equal - households read 47% of the catalogs they receive, 33% of the credit card offers, and 46 % of all other advertising mail


 In addition to being so effective, direct mail is also a versatile way to communicate advertising messages. Some of the benefits noted in the Household Diary Study:

  • Perhaps most importantly, direct mail is readily measurable - "businesses can track the response rate to a mailing far more precisely than for a television commercial or magazine advertisement"
  • Direct mail can be targeted - by sending particular advertising messages to recipients with particular characteristics, and by personalizing each mail piece for each individual recipient
  • It is an effective way to locate and pique the interest of new customers, as well as maintain relationships with existing customers
  • Direct mail is versatile - send a letter, a postcard, a catalog, a newsletter. . .the list goes on and on
  • The choice between First-Class and Standard Mail allows advertisers to balance speed and cost savings


While the USPS Household Diary Study reinforced some of what we read in the headlines - that direct mail volumes have declined - it also revealed that mail remains the most common way for households to send and receive transaction mail as well as one of the largest and most effective forms of advertising.

Direct mail works, and Click2Mail makes it easy. Get started at And remember that we're here to answer any questions you might have. Call us at 1-866-665-2787, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. EST or send an e-mail to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).