Live from List Vision: study highlights tough times

(Direct Newsline) New York–Mail volume from direct marketers has fallen significantly from five years ago, and response rates have decreased for many, according to a study released here at List Vision, which is being held Aug. 27 and 28.

The study, the Direct Marketing Association’s State of the List Industry, found that 43% of direct marketers had increased their mail volume last year, while 37% kept volume flat and 21% cut back on mailings. This marks a major change from 1997, when nearly 70% of those surveyed reported increased postal volumes.

On the e-mail front, 68% said they were sending more e-mail this year than last. Those sending more e-mails were less likely to see an increase in postal mail volume. However, companies with greater e-mail volumes (500,000 and above) were most likely to indicate an increase in mail quantity. Some six in 10 respondents attributed the higher volume of e-mail to its lower costs than postal mail.

Response rates for 53% of respondents remained the same in 2001 as in 2000; 25% noted an increase, and 21% a decrease. This is a significant change from 1997, when 37% reported increased response, 34% no change from 1996, and 19% reported a decrease. On the e-mail side, 35% saw an increase in response, 59% saw no change, and 6% noted a decrease.

Fewer than one-third of mailers reported an increase in their use of outside lists, while 60% reported no change from 2000. In 1997, 53% of respondents had increased the use of outside lists.

The State of the List Industry was conducted on behalf of the DMA List/Database Council. In January, e-mails were sent to about 2,000 DMA voting members who mail or e-mail consumers and/or businesses. Follow-up e-mails were sent in February and March, resulting in a 19.3% response.

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