Then & Now – The impact of Covid on Direct Mail

Since the pandemic began, I’ve been asked a lot of questions about the impact of Covid on Direct Mail. In the early days of April 2020, a lot of B2B marketers froze their offline campaigns as the world waited to understand the impact on their businesses. Our B2C clients in the insurance, health tech, and home improvement industries, for example, continued to mail at normal levels. As the pandemic wore on, risks were better understood and confidence to switch marketing activities back on improved. We couldn’t live in limbo forever, everyone had to get back to work and they did. We saw a sharp increase in mail volumes through 2021 as we aligned our strategies and honed our messaging. In 2022 the supply chain crisis and the recent threat of a recession have brought a whole new set of challenges. 

The top three questions Marketers typically ask are:

  • Have companies been mailing more or less?
  • How have response rates been affected?
  • How are businesses managing mail while employees are out of the office?

So let’s get to it!

Responses to the challenges that the pandemic created have been broad from our understanding of the clients we work with. Our clients have made specific decisions as they relate to their own unique structures and process.

Have companies been mailing more or less during Covid?

Both. It is industry-dependent. Finance, Internet Services, and Non-profits for example all increased the amount of mail they sent. We also saw increased investment from our consumer packaged goods clients. As businesses pivoted to working from home and consumers made more time for what was in their physical mailbox to get a break from their screens, physical mail cut through. Retail has held pretty steady, bolstered by consumer trends’ to create or adjust their home office setup, cook and eat more healthily at home, and purchase items for various “covid-projects” and hobbies. But as you might imagine, travel and recreation businesses definitely tightened their belts as they navigated restricted travel rules and guidance.

Have response rates been affected?

There has been a lot of interest around how the shift to working from home affected direct mail. We saw response rates for B2C direct mail increase as people working from home paid more attention to what was in the mailbox. And, it might surprise you to know that B2B direct mail rates held steady. 

How are businesses managing mail while employees are out of the office?

The steady response rates definitely point to SMB’s being quick to make arrangements to collect their mail from the office. We heard examples where business owners were collecting mail themselves, as opposed to the office manager opening the mail in pre-covid times. One enterprise-level business operated a skeleton mailroom and socially distant staff and adopted electronic scanning in their mailrooms to share the mail digitally. Smaller teams nominated a person who lived close by to go in and check the mail.

Direct Mail has thrived during covid, unlike digital advertising. It’s no secret that paid social has been on the decline since 2019. But in 2021, activity went up by 35%. Consumers were saturated with marketing messages. This coupled with all the additional screen-time, created serious digital fatigue and that led to direct mail getting into the spotlight with so much less competition for people’s attention.

There’s an assumption that direct mail has long lead times. It isn’t as fast as pressing a button. But it really doesn’t have to be a lengthy process. With the right expertise, you can plan, design, and execute a direct mail strategy in a few weeks. Working with Snowball you start at square 2. We give our clients access to the best-performing creative formats and audience selection methodology. Contact us to develop an efficient, affordable, and customized mail strategy. We’re looking forward to supporting you.

Written by: Katrina Shaw


Who’s Mailing What


The Halo Group

Canada Post