Before you commit part of your marketing budget to direct mail, wouldn’t it be nice to have some proof that it works? Are there real-world examples that show how effective it is? The answer to both questions is yes. That’s why we assembled these direct mail industry statistics to prove it. Some may surprise you, some may not. But as a marketing professional, they’re print marketing statistics you should know about.


1. Everyone’s Doing Direct Mail


Modern-day marketers believe in direct mail. After all, it’s a tried-and-true strategy. That’s why direct mail is a $44-billion industry, according to direct mail marketing statistics from the DMA. In fact, it’s second only to teleservices for U.S. ad spend and it’s continuing to grow by billions of dollars every year.


Print marketing statistics show that marketers are willing to spend more on direct mail than on any other channel. Why? Because it works. For every $167 that marketing execs spend on direct mail, they sell an average of $2,095 in goods and services. That’s a healthy ROI of 1,300%. Of course, your results will vary based on your particular industry and expenses (design, quantity, printing/mailing costs, etc.) but there’s no questioning its effectiveness.


2. Print Marketing Statistics: Response Rates Are Better Than Ever


direct mail industry statisticsAccording to the Association of National Advertisers, the average direct mail response rate for a “house list” is roughly 9%. If you rent a list, that number naturally drops to around 5%. Again, your results will vary depending on your industry and what your product or service is. But the numbers are impressive, especially when you compare them to other marketing channels like e-mail (0.1% ), paid search (0.6%), social media (0.4%), and online display advertising (0.2%).


The Best Ways to Track Your Direct Mail Response Rates


To set up tracking on your next direct mail marketing campaign, it should come as no surprise that you need to include a call to action (CTA) on each piece. This is how you’ll credit sales or leads to each campaign. Here are a few ideas. You can use one or more on each direct mail piece.


  • Promo code. Offer a promo code that’s different for each campaign. That way you can track your responses via any source: webpage, phone, in-person, etc. Remember, you’ll need to make sure your staff is aware of these codes.
  • Phone number. It’s easy to measure your response rate with a dedicated phone number for each campaign. Then track how many calls you receive to that number.
  • QR code. Display a unique QR code on your direct mail piece. When your recipients scan it with their smartphones, they’ll arrive at a landing page dedicated to that campaign. Then you can check your website stats to see how many visitors responded to the code and what they did once they arrived on the page.
  • PURL. This is another option like a QR code. You could provide each recipient with their own personalized landing page URL, or PURL. For example, John Customer’s personalized URL could include his name along with your website’s domain. It makes it look like they have their own space to do business with your brand.


Direct mail industry statistics show that the best tracking methods are QR codes or PURLs (61%), phone calls (53%), and promo codes (42%). If you offer more than one tracking method, you can compare them to see which one performs best for your brand.


3. Print Marketing Statistics: ROI is Through the Roof


Do you want proof that direct mail works? It’s simple. Check the return on your investment, one of the most important direct mail marketing metrics. The DMA says that direct mail’s median household return is about 29%. Email is the only marketing channel with a considerably higher ROI (because it’s so inexpensive). Social media is almost the same at 30%. By further comparison, though, direct mail produces a better return on investment than both paid search and online display advertising.


To calculate your direct mail ROI, take your total revenue and subtract the cost of your campaign. Then, divide that number by your campaign cost. For example, if you made $8,000 on a campaign but you spent $6,000, your total revenue number would be $2,000. Pretty straightforward. Now take that number ($2,000) and divide it by $6,000. You’d have an ROI of 30%, which is right around the average median household return.


4. Direct Mail Plays Well with Other Marketing Channels


print marketing statisticsIf you want to increase important print marketing statistics like response rates and ROI, combine direct mail with other marketing channels. This multichannel approach will virtually guarantee improved results. In fact, about 60% of marketers increased their ROI and 63% increased response rates by combining digital with direct mail. Over 70% of consumers say they’d rather interact with brands via multichannel marketing. You’re also looking at increases in website visits, leads, traffic to a physical location, downloads, and more.


If you add just one extra marketing channel along with your direct mail campaign, you stand to boost your revenue by close to 40%. Add a third channel and that number jumps to 120%. From there, the more channels you add, the more success you can expect. That’s because each additional channel gives your customer another way of doing business with you. About half of all businesses today use as many as eight different marketing channels to connect with their customers.


Direct mail is a great marketing channel on its own, but when you combine it with your email, social, and other digital channels, you’re setting up your brand for its best results.


5. Consumers Like the Personal Touch Direct Mail Provides


It’s no secret that personalization in marketing works. Approximately 90% of consumers prefer a personalized experience and they’re more likely to shop with brands that provide one to them. That’s where direct mail excels. In fact, direct mail industry statistics show that over 70% of consumers consider direct mail more personal than any online channel they’ve encountered. Plus, roughly the same percentage (72%) surveyed say they’ll only respond to marketing messages if they fit their interests.


The more data you have about your customers, the better. For example, by merely adding a person’s name to a direct mail piece, you can increase your response rates by as much as 135%. Of course, using someone’s name is as basic as it gets. You can also “personalize” things like geographic location, interests, income, and many other variables. It’s useful information you can use to add a personal touch—one that improves how you communicate with your customers and how you solve their problems.


About 90% of marketers say they use some type of personalization in their marketing strategy, yet only about 55% feel like they have enough data to do it correctly. Your customer data will reveal demographics and people’s reasons for doing business with you. Over 90% of consumers are willing to share this kind of information if it means getting added benefits to make their shopping experience better—or getting a discount or special offer. So when it comes to making your customers happy—and helping your brand gain consumer trust and boost sales—consider direct mail.


6. Interest in a Brand + Direct Mail Marketing = More Sales


If a consumer has already shown an interest in your product or service and you send them a direct mail piece, you’re increasing your chances of securing a new customer. Direct mail industry statistics reveal that over half of all consumers want to receive direct mail from brands that interest them. Why wouldn’t they? It gives them more information about something they’re already interested in and it further solidifies your position as a brand they can trust (because direct mail does that, you know—it builds trust).


7. Most People Sort Through Their Mail Immediately


print marketing statisticsThink about how you get your mail. You probably walk out your front door and down a driveway to your mailbox. If you’re an apartment dweller, you may have to journey to a designated area inside or outside of your building. Even if your mail arrives at your doorstep, there’s little chance you grab the pile without looking to see what’s in there. According to direct mail industry statistics from the USPS, almost 80% of people sort through their mail immediately upon receiving it. It’s human nature to want to know what’s there in that assortment of envelopes and postcards.


Plus, if there’s a package or a box in the mix, they’re almost guaranteed to open it. No other marketing channel offers this type of direct approach in getting your message to its recipient.


8. Direct Mail Beats All Other Marketing Channels


There seems to be an ongoing battle in many marketing departments. It’s a conflict pitting direct mail vs. digital marketing. Since we produce direct mail at MSP, you’re assuming we’re recommending it, right? Actually, we’re recommending both because they work better together. But let’s stay on task, at least for the moment, since we’ve already discussed the advantages of multichannel marketing. When it comes to certain categorical results, direct mail beats all other marketing channels.


  • Direct mail response rates chart between 2.9% (for prospects) to 5.3% (house list). Some sources report prospect lists as high as 4.9%. By comparison, email marketing’s response rate is a paltry 0.6%.
  • Direct mail’s response rates are 5-9x higher than all other advertising channels.
  • Millennials prefer direct mail over digital marketing. About 60% say they find it more useful.
  • Direct mail ranks higher in consumer trust than any digital medium.


Even when it comes to ROI, direct mail is competitive. You can expect a 29% return on your marketing dollar. Email is considerably higher (124% ROI), but that’s because it’s essentially free to produce, save for some typically minor maintenance expenses. Also, by comparison, social media offers a 30% ROI while paid search is at 23% and online display ads are at 16%.


9. Direct Mail Makes People React (Especially Catalogs)


direct mail catalogAn email campaign is a straightforward way to get consumers to visit your brand’s website—if the recipient reads it, that is. It’s pretty simple. They just have to click a link within the body of the copy and they arrive at your intended destination. But a direct mail campaign also generates a strong incentive for a consumer to visit your site. In fact, print marketing statistics show that more than 60% of recipients either scanned a QR code or typed in a website’s URL from a piece of direct mail. Let’s look at catalogs as an example.


A printed catalog provides a superior incentive for someone to buy something online—as opposed to a consumer who didn’t receive the same piece of mail. According to a USPS survey, direct mail marketing is like window shopping from your mailbox. People that received a catalog bought almost 30% more than those that didn’t receive the same catalog. Plus, brands that supplemented their online sales strategy with printed direct mail catalogs saw their revenue jump over 160%.


10. Direct Mail Isn’t as Aggravating as the Internet


You’ve heard the phrase “junk mail.” Well, do you know it applies to email far more than direct mail? Spam messages account for 45% of all e-mail traffic. Plus, we’re constantly pestered with pop-ups and embedded ads when we’re trying to search the web for information. That’s why over 26% of internet users install ad blockers: to ease the pain of ad overload. That’s why many folks say that direct mail is less aggravating (43% to be exact) than the Internet. The USPS confirms that their typical customer likes getting a postcard, catalog, or card in the mail. So don’t despair that your print marketing campaign might get tossed in the trash without a second thought. Design and target your mail piece intelligently and you’ll reap the rewards.


11. People Love to Receive Mail


Think about how you feel when you get mail. Good mail, not bills. We’re talking colorful, maybe unconventionally shaped envelopes, magazines, catalogs, and packages. A Direct Marketing Association (DMA) study shows that nearly 60% of Americans consider mail a good thing, especially if it’s personalized for their needs. In fact, a trip to the mailbox has traditionally been a fun journey—a tactile experience, like opening a gift. It’s one of the benefits of direct mail marketing. That tradition is still alive and well. Plus the tangible aspect makes it more memorable. This helps to create a positive direct mail experience.


12. Millennials Love Direct Mail, Too


print marketingDirect mail isn’t just for “older’ consumers. There’s a new generation that likes to find something in their mailboxes, too. Millennials, or Gen Y, are well known for their use of social media, but they appreciate other forms of marketing, too. According to a Gallup study’s print marketing statistics, almost all millennials (95%) admit they enjoy getting letters, postcards, and catalogs in their mailboxes. About 92% consider it easier to read print marketing materials than digital screen content. Plus, millennials reply to direct mail marketing quicker than all other age groups.


13. Financial Services Industry Spends More


We know that there are a lot of businesses using direct mail, but what industry uses it the most? Who’s accounting for the bulk of direct mail marketing messages?


We know that direct mail works well for any industry. But there are a few, in particular, that have found tremendous success. For example, direct mail industry statistics show that financial services brands spend more on direct mail than any other business. This industry includes insurance brands ($5.8B), credit card companies ($5B), mortgage and loan businesses ($4.8B), banks ($1.3B), and investment companies ($208M). It’s an industry built for direct mail, especially because there are measurable results. Financial services marketers know what numbers they need to reach to accomplish their campaign goals. So they send out millions of targeted direct mail pieces each year to help reach them.


14. Consumers Trust Print Marketing


For nonprofits to find success with fundraising, potential donors have to support their cause. But there’s an issue of trust involved. That’s where you can count on direct mail to deliver (pun intended, of course). Print marketing statistics affirm that almost 60% of customers trust print marketing more than any other type of marketing channel. Plus, direct mail allows you to confidently target your desired audience, keep costs down, and track your campaigns from start to finish. So what results can your nonprofit expect if you use direct mail? How about an increase in donations by about 40%? That makes direct mail a no-brainer marketing channel for any nonprofit organization.


15. Direct Mail Industry Statistics Offer Accountability and MSP is the Perfect Partner


No matter what print marketing statistics you’re interested in, it’s important to know how each campaign performed. That way you can improve from one to another. MSP offers Direct Mail Panorama, a revolutionary software solution that provides a “panoramic” view of all your direct mail metrics. This leads to an abundance of improvements, like:


  • Reduced management time,
  • Improved speed to market,
  • Simplified editing and approvals.


Of course, it also provides detailed reporting, so you can analyze your production tactics, and examine your delivery and engagement numbers. As you unlock these direct mail statistics, you’ll enjoy improved campaigns and increased ROI. Want to know more about achieving direct mail success for your brand? Contact an MSP representative for a free consultation today. We’ll walk you through your own personal direct mail solution—one that will help your brand achieve its goals.

How Effective is Direct Mail Marketing?

How Effective is Direct Mail Marketing?

As a smart marketing professional, you know that direct mail is a wise choice to include in your multichannel arsenal. But exactly how effective is direct mail marketing? We're here to answer that question for you.   Direct Mail Marketing Continues to Grow  ...

read more
How to Optimize Your Direct Mail Postcards

How to Optimize Your Direct Mail Postcards

Marketers from every industry love direct mail postcards because they're affordable and effective ways to advertise their products and services. So we applied our 65+ years of knowledge and came up with a few tricks you can use to boost your results. Here's how to...

read more
Direct Mail Advertising Costs: Here’s What to Look For

Direct Mail Advertising Costs: Here’s What to Look For

Marketers want to know how to get the best return for their advertising dollars. So we assembled the typical direct mail costs to show you what's involved and what options you'll have when it's time to plan your next direct mail campaign.   Direct Mail...

read more