Stat of the Month: Telecom

While some direct mail sectors have shrunk in the past year, largely due to economic pressures, the telecommunications industry shows no signs of slowing down. Comcast, Verizon, DirectTV, AT&T Communications, Vonage, Credo, T-Mobile, Spring Nextel … they’re sending out mail with new offers seemingly every day.

Of course, many of these efforts present the big bundle—phone, internet and TV—offers that make serious change for the provider and tend to lock in prospects as customers for a durable time period. Meanwhile, many of the cell phone companies duel each other with premiums offering new models of phones alongside competitive pricing plans.

To illustrate how much the telecom sector has grown in the mailstream, we’ll dive into the Who’s Mailing What! Archive. From 2006 to 2008, telecom gradually grew each year but still remained in the 3 percentage point range. Through the first six months of 2009, however, it exploded, zooming up 31 percent from last year alone.

With this explosive growth also has come mostly new telecom efforts, as the percentage of repeat mail has dwindled every year since 2005. That year a full 42.6 percent of telecom mailers were controls. By 2007, that statistic had slipped all the way down to 15.5 percent. After going down a couple of percentage points in 2008, it sunk all the way down to 10 percent through the first six months of 2009. In other words, nine out of every 10 telecom efforts have never been seen before, a staggering fact that illustrates how many new offers are being sent out in order to win new customers, or retain them.

Lastly, the usage of premiums, personalization and the self-mailer format has not wavered much over the past few years. Premiums are back to 2007 levels, at about a quarter of all telecom efforts, after having dipped to 17 percent in 2008. Personalization has been used in nearly 40 percent of telecom efforts over the past three and a half years. And the self-mailer format continues to be used in roughly half of all telecom mail—a statistic that goes back to 2005.