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whos mailing what 2020 year in review

RESEARCH & REPORTS

Who’s Mailing What! 2020 Year in Review

It’s been quite a year since we brought back Who’s Mailing What!

At the start of 2020, no one could have foreseen a pandemic that has tested our resolve in so many ways.

Through it all, thanks to marketers, printers, and the U.S. Postal Service, direct mail has continued to shine brightly as a valuable engagement channel for companies and nonprofits.

And bringing you thousands of creatives every single month has been our mission at the new Who’s Mailing What!

We’ve made substantial improvements over the previous member experience and introduced new features — all with the goal of providing you with the best performance-driven creative insights and inspiration for your work, a deeper look at your competition in the market, and new leads of marketers that believe in the power of print.

Here’s a review at how far we’ve come this year, and a little look at what’s ahead.

1. New, User-Friendly Website

Who’s Mailing What! has been online in various forms for nearly 20 years. However, as the web has advanced, the user experience needed a lot of work to be modern and useful to today’s users.


Our streamlined design gives visitors to the site much more at-a-glance information, starting with the home page that neatly breaks down the benefits of membership, an up-to-date running snapshot of mail campaigns as they’re added to the site, and the new search tool that allows you to take a sneak peek into the number of creatives by industry and specific keyword.

From the user dashboard, you now have much improved search speed to find the mailings that meet your needs quicker and easier than ever before. New mail pieces are now uploaded daily, letting you keep your finger on the pulse of your competitors’ activity and industry trends.

On the search page, you can drill down on details such as industry categories. Search results now appear in a more readable type and include mail location and excerpt with your search request. We also added geographic location as a new filter in addition to format, controls, and business model. More on that below.

2. New Full Text Search

One of the most valuable search features we added to Who’s Mailing What in 2020 is a Google-like full text search. Thanks to OCR (Optical Character Recognition), all of the text on the mail that we scan is now indexed.

Because of this new data for each mailpiece — including historic mail from before 2020 — it is now possible for users to search on any keyword or phrase. So if you want to see how and where a particular word is used on a mailpiece, the search finds it.

3. New PDF Viewer & Details

With previous versions, Who’s Mailing What! made it difficult to view PDFs of the mailpieces that were downloaded. Members had to download a PDF, then open it separately using Adobe Reader for viewing.

This year, we added a convenient PDF viewer that lets you easily open, view, flip, or zoom in on the PDF you choose. You can see a thumbnail of each page for a look at the overall design and layout of the piece. The interface allows you to save campaigns to the dashboard for quick access as well as print them directly from our system with no need to download the PDF.

But there’s more. On a sidebar, we also display some useful statistics:

  • the map that tells you where that piece was mailed to
  • the historical distribution chart that gives you an overview on how well this mail campaign performed. In case the mail piece is received regularly for more than three months it is considered a Control (marked with a star in the search panel) and if it has been used for years with great success, it becomes a Grand Control.

4. New Geographical Search Tool

Previously, there was no way to track and segment the collected direct mail by its geography. That all changed this year with launching the new Who’s Mailing What! filter. By leveraging modern technologies, we identify the barcodes on the mail pieces and extract the states they were mailed to.

With our new geographic filter, you can search on as well as see where companies in your marketplace are mailing to (or not), and thereby, target (or avoid) specific states for your own efforts. The tool enables you to discover what states are being targeted by your competitors, what offers they send and designs they utilize.

5. New Sales Lead Add-On

We compile dozens of details about “who” is mailing the thousands of direct mail campaigns that are delivered to our panelists’ homes and included on our website.

With this in-depth dossier on more than 16,000 direct marketer organizations, you can now find the best prospects and key contacts for your products and services as well as determine a strategy for your own direct mail campaigns.

6. WMW! Newsletter

Previously, content centering on direct mail from our database appeared in both print and online publications — but not on the Who’s Mailing What! website.

We changed that in 2020 with our online newsletter. The posts we create share content that is both educational and helpful, with the intention of helping you get more out of your experience as a valued member.

We also want these posts to be interesting and relevant — that’s why we are actively using our data knowledge and our world-biggest collection to grab and share direct mail insights with you. If you haven’t yet read our research about COVID-19 and its effect on direct mail marketing, you are welcome to do this. And as we understand how important it is for creative people to keep inspiration flowing, we include images where we can, and to be on trend, as recent as possible.

who's mailing what newsletter

7. More Mailings, Companies & Controls

Besides new and improved features, Who’s Mailing What! in 2020 was also about achieving big jumps in numbers. Numbers like mailings added, among other increases, gives you a better competitive and creative edge.

Prior to the relaunch of Who’s Mailing What! there were about 70,000 mail packages representing 35 years included in the archive.

This year, under our new ownership, we have added 31,000+ new direct mail pieces, all with enhanced data. More mailings also equals more companies whose activity you can monitor, more offers (31,342 added in 2020!), and more Controls and Grand Controls (3,120 identified in 2020).

Compared to the previous rate of updates for 35 years before Who’s Mailing What! was relaunched, during 2020 we:

  • added 2743% more companies
  • uploaded 1463% more mail pieces
  • identified 634% more Controls and Grand Controls

8. More Panelists Added

Previously, mail for Who’s Mailing What! was contributed by a small number of people in a few states.

We built a new group of panelists completely from scratch. They’re located in nearly every state in every part of the country, giving clients like you much better representation of what’s being mailed.

Customers' Behavior Analysis

We also decided to take a look at our users’ behavior and we drew some interesting insights on what our users were searching for.

1. Most Searched Formats

This year, users searched more for envelope mailers than any other format. In certain categories, such as Nonprofits and Finance (especially credit cards), envelopes are by far the most mailed format. Searches for postcards weren’t far behind, and let’s face it — they work well for so many industry verticals.

2. Most Searched Categories

In 2020, 4814 category searches were done in Retail. It is by far the largest number of all category searches and it makes sense, as retailers are big users of direct mail, very visible, and very competitive.

Nonprofit searches were a more distant second with 2503 searches. In a volatile year, thanks to the elections and COVID-19, of course, it seems many subscribers are interested in any competitive activity that could affect them. 

In 2020 our users searched for:

  • Retail
  • Nonprofit
  • Finance
  • Business Services
  • Business Products
  • Health Care
  • Education
  • Internet Services & Telecommunications
  • Energy
  • Media & Publishing
  • Restaurants
  • Consumer Services
  • Arts
  • Recreation & Travel
  • Real Estate

3. Most Searched Key Terms

As I’ve already noted, our new full text search means that users can look for words or text strings found on mailings and picked up by our OCR scan.

This year, “small business” was the top search term, indicating that many members are looking to see how their fellow marketers are trying to appeal to this important group. “Financial” was the second-most searched term, and is a good choice as it lets searchers see a wide variety of mail campaigns. And the third top term the users were searching for is “coin”.

4. Most Searched Companies

Some companies mail in very competitive categories and subcategories, and are especially big spenders in direct mail marketing. Progressive Insurance, the most-searched company, is active in many media channels, including direct mail. It was closely followed in the amount of searches by competitor Allstate. Of the top 15 most-searched companies, 10 are either in the subcategories for either insurance or for credit cards:

  • Progressive
  • Allstate
  • Visa
  • Capital One
  • American Express
  • Dell
  • Chase
  • US Bank
  • Square
  • Medicare
  • Citibank
  • State Farm
  • Bank of America
  • Doordash
  • Aetna

Our Resolutions for 2021

So we’ve looked at where we’ve been in 2020, and as much as we’ve done, there’s more good news:

We’re just getting started.

In 2021, we are planning on:

  1. Adding more performance insights with the assistance of AI. Look for analytics on content (keywords, keyphrases), visuals (fonts, colors), and emotions.
  2. Providing you a notification module that sends a weekly email with the latest statistics on number of mail pieces and companies added in the previous week, most recent distribution by categories and format, and more.
  3. Developing personalized alert features for competitive analysis. You will be able to set up your dashboard to get notifications when once we upload a mail piece by the companies you are following or other relevant saved search terms, like keywords or category.
  4. Turning the newsletter into a more versatile informational resource. This means more useful content pieces, weekly emails with quick reads, and a new design.
  5. Creating custom reports (exclusive for Enterprise users) including a data dictionary of WMW! data assets and a made-to-order interface.
  6. Offering omnichannel research (exclusive for Enterprise users). Our direct mail data can be matched with digital ads provided by partner companies to give you an overview of companies’ competitive activities across channels.
  7. Scan, classify, and enrich metadata for privately generated mail pieces on demand (exclusive for Enterprise users)

We are dedicated to making your customer experience better and look forward to working with you in 2021!

Jill Corcoran

President at Who's Mailing What!

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