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


Direct mail marketing is not an antiquated advertising medium. Nor is it a fad that’s had a brief resurgence. Rather, it’s a thriving, growing marketing channel that’s poised for continued success. In fact, according to Research and Markets, direct mail advertising is currently flourishing into a $61-billion business.


Direct Mail Response Rates > Other Marketing Channels


direct mail response ratesDirect mail industry response rates have been on the rise for 10+ years. Studies show that house lists yield a 9% response rate while prospect lists are around 5%. That makes direct mail better than any other marketing channel by a long shot. By comparison, a paid search campaign totals a little more than 0.5% on average. Social media is at 0.4%. Email marketing has a paltry 0.1% response rate. So when you want some action from your hard-working marketing efforts, direct mail offers the rewards.


Of course, since you’ll want to optimize your response rates for direct mail, there are a few things you can do.


  1. Send your campaigns at strategic times. Shoot for Tuesday-Thursday arrival dates. Also, birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries work well.
  2. Personalize your content to suit your audience. Forbes says 85% of direct mail recipients will open your campaign if it’s personalized. Use variable data printing for fast and effective mass customization.
  3. Clean up your data before you send your campaigns. Proper data hygiene and list management practices help ensure your campaigns arrive when and where they’re supposed to.
  4. Use omnichannel marketing techniques. Your customers expect an omnichannel marketing experience. Don’t disappoint them. When you add direct mail to digital channels, you can boost your ROI by 20%.
  5. Make ’em notice your brand. Stand out with top-notch design and/or creative delivery methods. For example, dimensional mail has an almost 100% open rate.


If you’re asking yourself, “How effective is direct mail marketing?” there’s proof in the response rates. Look no further than our companion article: Response Rates for Direct Mail: How to Get Your Best Numbers.


Direct Mail Offers a Great Return on Your Investment


Direct mail marketing statistics show that ROI is through the roof. Studies reveal that for every $167 marketers spend on a print advertising campaign, they’ll make roughly $2,095 in sales. Doing some quick math, that equals a 1,300% return on your investment. Naturally, your numbers will fluctuate based on what you’re selling and how much money you’re investing in your campaigns. But the results are staggering. When you compare that ROI with other marketing channels, only email offers a better return ($36 for every dollar spent, but that’s because email marketing expenses are so low).


Consumers don’t take email as seriously as they used to because they receive so much of it. Research shows that nearly three-quarters of consumers are tired of getting so many email messages. That’s not to say email marketing is dying, but modern-day marketers must adopt keen strategies to boost their email open rates. You need brilliant subject lines and proper personalization to have success with email marketing.


Calculate Your ROI


The postal service has a direct mail ROI impact calculator so you can predict your return on investment. You enter your estimated budget, campaign, and product numbers into each field and your marketing ROI is automatically calculated. At MSP, we can help you with every stage of your direct mail campaign. Our in-house mailing center allows us to ensure you get the best service and rates. We’ll help you come up with the best strategy for each campaign. Let’s discuss your marketing goals and find the plan that works best for your brand.


How Effective is Direct Mail Marketing? Ask Consumers


effective direct mail marketingPeople love getting mail. Whether it’s a postcard, catalog, or personalized thank-you note, studies show that physical mail is something they look forward to receiving. It’s kind of a romanticized marketing medium. In fact, roughly 60% of consumers said they like getting print advertising from brands. Plus, USPS studies show that almost 75% of individuals surveyed say they preferred direct mail over any other marketing channel. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) discovered that over 50% of U.S. consumers consider their daily mail a “true pleasure.”


This brings us to the inevitable comparison: direct mail vs. digital marketing—specifically email marketing.


We know that consumers are tired of all the emails they get. You might even call it “email fatigue.” (Good thing there’s that opt-out link.) After all, the average office employee receives more than 120 emails every day. If something doesn’t catch their attention immediately (think catchy headlines and personalization), it’s a quick tap of the delete key. Direct mail is different. It’s tactile, so people can touch it and save it for later use. That gives direct mail a distinct advantage over any other marketing channel. It’s a way of interacting with your actual product or service. A direct mail campaign provides an important connection between brand and audience.


Direct Mail Now and Later


Research shows that approximately 80% of consumers sort through their daily mail immediately. It doesn’t matter where they’re getting their mail (at home or at a PO Box), when they grab that stack of envelopes, etc., they want to know what exciting news, offers, and personal correspondence await. Plus, if there’s a package (dimensional mail or a padded envelope) in the mix, it’s pretty much a sure thing they’re opening that first. No other marketing channel provides brands with this same direct-to-consumer technique.


Furthermore, once a consumer has your offer in hand, it’s likely they’re going to hang on to it. Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re in the hospitality industry and you send a direct mail postcard campaign with a coupon. If your recipient doesn’t use the coupon right away, they’re very likely going to keep it for future use. Why wouldn’t they? It’s a discount. That’s like free money. You could say the same of any offers or information that’s worth hanging on to. Maybe it’s an event schedule or a listing of special holiday hours. Maybe it simply looks too good to toss out. How about that? (Kudos to your designer.) Give consumers a reason to keep your direct mail piece “lying around” and they probably will.


Direct Mail Isn’t as Annoying as Digital Marketing Channels


email marketingAnother advantage that direct mail has over other marketing channels is that it’s less annoying. How do you measure feelings? Easy, you ask consumers. What you’ll find is that they’re tired of all the distractions they face when accessing digital marketing materials. Take, for example, a website. Pop-up ads are doling out assignments. Embedded ads break up the continuity of a story as you scroll down a page. People want answers to their problems, not more problems. So over a quarter of internet users have installed ad blockers to help offset the diversions. Thus, print marketing is 43% “less annoying” than digital marketing.


Direct Mail and Digital Marketing Work Well Together


Perhaps we’ve made it sound like direct mail is king and all other forms of marketing are, well, inferior. Not so. The best marketing strategy features both print and digital together. It’s called multichannel marketing (or better yet, omnichannel). With this practice, you use a variety of channels (like direct mail, email marketing, social, and large format) to accomplish your goals. With omnichannel, the channels you choose work together seamlessly. Think of a time when you started shopping online and found yourself in a retail store making the purchase. That’s a great example of how several channels can work together. Another would be when you receive a piece of direct mail and then scan a QR code to access a coupon or discount. Those are two separate marketing channels working together in unison to accomplish a goal.


In fact, if someone receives a direct mail postcard from you and scans the QR code you included as the CTA, they’ll spend 3x more than customers who don’t follow this same sales path. That should be reason enough to take a multichannel or omnichannel approach when you’re considering how you’re going to market your product or service. As far as direct mail is concerned, it’s simple: if you add a digital component, you’ll enjoy more successful marketing campaigns.


All Industries Enjoy Direct Mail Success


How effective is direct mail marketing? We say it’s very effective because it works for any business. No matter what industry your brand is part of, you can have success with direct mail. But just for fun, here’s how the top-five industries shake out, according to the ANA’s Statistical Fact Book:


  1. Financial services
  2. Nonprofit
  3. Publishing/media
  4. Healthcare
  5. B2B services


We can (and will) make a strong case for any industry, but when we dug up the stats, one stood above the others. Financial services. That includes insurance brands, credit card companies, mortgage and loan businesses, banks, and investment groups. They’re all particularly successful when it comes to direct mail campaigns. The financial services industry delivers millions of direct mailers to consumer mailboxes each year. Financial services, more than any other industry, has to work hard to gain people’s trust. Interestingly, direct mail industry statistics show that about 60% of consumers consider direct mail to be more trustworthy than any other marketing channel.


How Effective is Direct Mail Marketing? Ask Nonprofits


Speaking of trust, nonprofits are regularly asking donors to send them money. That requires trust. Thankfully, direct mail has given nonprofits a boost. More than half of consumers surveyed said they trust direct mail more than any other marketing channel. Besides that, direct mail is highly targeted, and affordable, plus you can track each campaign. (We recommend Direct Mail Panorama.) The end result? Nonprofits that use direct mail increase their donations up to 40%.


Direct Mail Creates Consumer Action


qr code marketingDirect mailers, most notably catalogs, help businesses increase their website traffic. Research reveals that over 60% of direct mail recipients do what they’re asked in the call to action, like visiting a brand’s website via a QR code or manually entering a URL. That’s true of any type of direct mail piece. But a direct mail catalog also boosts sales. In fact, the postal service compares direct mail catalogs to retail window shopping. Consumers who received catalogs buy approximately 30% more merchandise than those that didn’t receive them.


Furthermore, businesses that combined their e-commerce website with direct mail catalogs saw a 160% boost in sales.


How Effective is Direct Mail Marketing? MSP Knows


Direct mail marketing is an effective way to share your products and services with your target audiences. You’ll spend more than you will with email marketing, but you’ll also get better results—especially when you enlist the services of an experienced direct mail provider. MSP offers a dedicated partnership that produces successful direct mail campaigns. Contact us to discuss your brand’s marketing goals.

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