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Direct Mail Response Rates (And How to Improve Them)

Direct mail has been a tried and true marketing strategy for decades, but the rise of web-based advertising has made it more important than ever to keep on top of the game. If direct mail is a part of your company’s advertising playbook, then you’ll want to make sure you’re using the most up-to-date techniques to get the best return on your investment.

Regardless of your budget or industry, direct mail can help you reach new customers, boost your sales, launch a new product, or simply increase brand recognition for your company. It’s effective as a standalone campaign, or can be combined with other advertising strategies.

Let’s take a look at typical rates of return on direct mail campaigns and some ways that you can get a better response rate to your mailings.

Man on Phone

Normal Rates of Return on Direct Mail Campaigns

Direct mail can be used for many different purposes, so your rate of return will depend on what kind of response you’re looking for. According to JWM Business Services, a .5 to 2% return rate is about average for a direct mail marketing campaign. That means that you can expect around 1 or 2 purchases or responses per 100 mailers with a standard campaign.

While you might assume that modern advertising tools like e-mail offer a better response rate, in fact, the opposite is true: the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) found that email only had a 1% response rate. They estimate that direct mail has a response rate of up to 9%, partly because consumers’ physical mailboxes are still less cluttered than their inboxes!

2003-2018 Direct Mail Response Rates
Source: ANA | DMA Response Rate Report 2018

Of course, measuring your success rate depends on what objective you’re trying to achieve. Are you advertising a new local business? Getting people to sign up for a website? Promoting a sale or a new product?

If your objective is simply to increase brand awareness, then you may be less concerned about reaching your sales targets with your first mailing. Some of the most effective campaigns help you build up a relationship with your customers over time.

Of course, none of that matters unless you have high quality direct mail campaigns with which to develop that relationship. Let’s take a look at some ways you can improve the quality of the responses you get from your mailers.

How to Improve Your Direct Mail Response Rates

Whether your direct mail campaigns have had mixed results, or you’ve already seen a positive response, there’s always room for improvement. Here are a few tips on how you can use the latest tools and strategies to make the most of your direct mail marketing campaign:

Woman on phone

Improving Response Quality

Even if you have high response rates, it doesn’t mean much if the quality of those responses is subpar. How many conversions are you getting for those responses? How many of those conversions ultimately lead to sales? How many sales become regular customers?

The first, best thing you can do to improve response quality is to improve the quality of the mailing list itself. Make sure you’re getting leads from reputable sources, ones that accurately specify your target audience (geography, demographics, appropriate hobbies and traits relevant to your niche).

While saturation mailing is a solid way to reach a large number of people for generalized services, you might not get the quality of responses you’re looking for. Targeted mailing, on the other hand, lets you be more specific with your campaigns, rolling out mailings based on different audience segments.

Because you’re focusing on the kinds of customers who are more likely to be interested in your product or service, the quality of their responses will be greatly improved.

Apart from picking the right people, the actual mailings themselves need to be vibrant, dynamic and eye-catching. Your audience needs to be able to know a) who you are, b) what you can do for them, and c) how best to contact them.

The best campaigns have multiple touch points and channels for response; keep track of which touch points resonate with your prospective customers, and focus future mailings on what works. This should result in not just higher response rates, but stickier and more profitable responses overall.

Get Help From Mail Shark

Regardless of how far along you are in your campaign, the team at Mail Shark is here to help you customize it and work out all the details. We offer a range of direct mail products for most major industries, and we know how to target and track every piece of your campaign. We can help you launch a saturation campaign or aim your mailers at a specific demographic.

Whether you’re still in the design phase, or you have experience with direct mail and want to increase your ROI, Mail Shark has got you covered. Just reach out to us for a free print sample, or fill out our form to get a personalized quote for your campaign.