The Mail Moment

By Don Fare, Account Executive

The United States established a permanent depository for overseas mail as early as 1775, when Benjamin Franklin was appointed as the first Postmaster General under the Continental Congress.

The first letters delivered in America helped earlier settlers connect, and stay connected with, family members that often lived hundreds of miles apart. Early correspondences often took months to reach their destinations; equally, responses took a significant amount of time. As a result, individuals valued the few message received, and longingly looked forward to the arrival of the next message.

Early correspondences brought people together; the message would be shared as family members eagerly awaited word as to how their relatives were doing. Messages to loved ones were often cherished, read, and reread. That feeling of joy and excitement when receiving a letter was, in its truest sense, a “Mail Moment”.

Not long ago, I found an old box filled with correspondences between my grandparents. My grandfather was a Private in the Army during World War II, and was engaged to grandmother, who lived in Iowa at the time. It was heartwarming to read their letters. Enclosed were words of love, wisdom, humor, that were all intentionally and thoughtfully written down for the other to read. The letters also contained fears, and sometimes sadness, as they shared their daily worries about the war. These letters were more than just a sheet of paper and an envelope, but a prized possession. They were on some level a part of the individual, and as a result could not be discarded. These letters had intrinsic value, and were stored safely for over 73 years.

Many of us have experienced this excitement of a Mail Moment. A birthday card, a thank you card, a love letter, a long awaited (or unexpected) handwritten letter are all the epitome of this enduring phrase. I even catch myself secretly shifting through my daily incoming mail looking for that one handwritten envelope, or significant message, that someone took the time to send me.

This Mail Moment is real and occurs at the point where consumers bring in their mail, sort it, organize it and search for compelling relevant content.

A few year back, the United States Postal Service conducted a “Mail Moment” study. The study determined several key findings:

Most importantly- mail evokes emotion among consumers:

  • 67% feel mail is more personal than the Internet;
  • 56% say receiving mail is a real pleasure;

Mail gets marketing messages immediately into the hands of consumers, who are eager to see what’s in their mail:

  • 98% of consumers bring in their mail the day it’s delivered, and of these,
  • 72% bring it in as soon as possible;
  • 77% of consumers sort through their mail immediately.

Mail boasts a loyal readership and consumers spend a significant amount of time each day with their mail:

  • Consumers spend an average of 30 minutes reading their mail on any occasion;
  • Consumers spend 45 minutes with magazines, 30 minutes with catalogs and 25 minutes with Direct Mail.

Mail may be the easiest way to reach the person in charge of managing household operations and finances:

  • <96% of household mail sorters determine which mail is kept for review;
  • 90% of these sorters pay the bills;
  • 92% of these sorters are the principal grocery shoppers.

Mail is useful and consumers are more likely to read it if it helps them perform one of these three household job functions:

  • Browsing for new purchases;
  • Managing the home;
  • Overseeing finances.


The Postal Service’s Mail Moment research shows that Americans value and look forward to receiving mail. This Mail Moment experience is real; it is measureable and can offer an immediate compelling perspective for marketers to incorporate in their efforts to reach consumers.

“You come home from work, the mail in one hand, the cell phone in your pocket, and you sit down to go through the mail. It’s an important moment in people’s lives and one that presents great marketing opportunities,” said McCann CEO Harris Diamond at the USPS’s National Postal Forum this spring.

“Today’s media events are more complex than they were 100 years ago. There are many more hurdles due to fragmentation. But in a world in which people are endlessly bombarded with electronic messages, direct mail is now the most welcome house guest.”

How are you taking advantage of the Mail Moment to connect with your audience in an impactful way? Share your feedback in the comments below!


Don Fare is an account executive with Extend Your Reach. A 24 year veteran, Don is a credentialed USPS Mailpiece Design Professional and has extensive knowledge of mailing standards and procedures. Since 2000, he has served as an executive board member on the USPS Postal Customer Council.

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