Your brand’s direct mail response rates are a direct indication of how well you compose your campaigns. Ultimately, the direct mail marketing statistics tell the tale. What is a good response rate for direct mail? According to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the average response rate for a “house list” is around 9%. If you rent a list, on the other hand, you can expect around a 5% return. Naturally, your results will vary depending on a variety of factors, including the type of product or service you’re selling. But these are impressive numbers, especially when you compare them to other popular marketing channels. How do you go about improving your response rates? Let’s find out.


How to Determine Direct Mail Response Rates


response rates for direct mailThe response rate is the percentage of people on your mailing list who act on your direct mail campaign. Before you can improve your direct mail response rates, you need to figure out how to calculate them. Thankfully, it’s simple: just divide the number of responses you receive by the number of pieces you sent. For example, if you ship a 25,000-piece mailing and you receive 2,000 responses, you would enjoy an 8% response rate. Congratulations, that’s a solid number that’s well within industry expectations.


Send Your Direct Mail Campaigns at These Times


If you can put yourself in your recipient’s shoes and use some common sense, you can figure out the best days to send your direct mail campaigns. What days of the week are typically the most hectic and thus, probably not the best time to get people’s attention? If you guessed Monday and Friday, you’re correct. People are more likely to be preoccupied on these two days, so avoid them if possible. Direct mail timing is everything when you’re trying to improve your direct mail response rates. So shoot for Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday to have your campaigns delivered into mailboxes.


It sounds like a great concept but how do you go about assuring that your mailing will arrive on a specific day? To arrange a precise in-home arrival date for your marketing mail, trust your campaigns to an experienced, full-service direct mail marketing company. MSP has more than 65 years of experience. Plus we can create a postal logistics strategy for your brand and arrange for your campaigns to arrive during specific windows of time during the week. Want to know more? Contact us and let’s discuss how we can improve your time to market and direct mail response rates with mid-week arrival goals.


Boost Direct Mail Response Rates with Perfect Timing


As we just learned, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are the best days to deliver your direct mail campaigns. But there are other times when you can improve your direct mail response rates. Consider these possibilities:


  • Birthdays. People are a bit more anxious to check their mailbox around their birthday, so give them what they’re looking for: a gift. Think in terms of a redeemable offer, discount, coupon, etc. to celebrate their special day and boost loyalty.
  • Holidays. Ditto for the holidays, especially in December when many people send holiday cards to friends and family.
  • Busy seasons. Does your brand have a certain “busy season?” If so, use it to maximize your success with a mailing that complements that time of year.
  • Buyer’s journey. Talk about timing! The buyer’s journey is all about it. Schedule a direct mail piece to fall in line with where your buyers are at in their customer journey. Coordinate your campaigns with the Awareness, Consideration, Decision, and Post-Decision stages for optimal success.


When you pay attention to what’s best for your customers, you’ll see higher direct mail response rates and ultimately, you’ll discover how to increase your ROI.


Personalize Your Campaigns for Higher Direct Mail Response Rates


what is a good response rate for direct mailYour direct mail recipients are more likely to open a package or envelope if it’s personalized. According to Forbes, 85% of consumers said they’d probably open personalized mail. Of course, that means more than just adding their name in large, bold letters on the outside. You can use variable data printing (VDP) to accomplish that as well as change the text, color, and/or images on the inside of the mailing to match your recipient’s preferences and interests.


Variable Data Printing


Variable data printing allows you to mass customize your direct mail campaigns. For example, instead of sending 20,000 identical brochures to your mailing list, you can use VDP to personalize certain elements of each one according to the recipient’s preferences. Here are a few possibilities:


  • First or full name in the letter’s headline.
  • Images that correspond to interests.
  • Content that refers to previous interactions.
  • Content tailored to zip codes.
  • Customer-specific QR codes or pURLs.


VDP opens the door to so many personalization possibilities. Research shows that you can experience 5x more engagement when you base your marketing moves via a customer’s own actions. Think about it. Your customers are providing information about themselves so they can get the best possible experience from your brand. Use that information to make them happy and boost your sales.


Make Sure Your Data is Clean


By design, the best direct mail campaigns have mailing lists that are full of good addresses. That’s because bad data costs U.S. businesses more than $3 trillion each year. To improve your direct mail response rates, keep an eye on your data hygiene and list management practices. If you have duplicate (dupes), outdated, or just plain wrong addresses, your response rates will suffer. Make sure your data is clean.


Clean data is a database without errors and that should be the goal for every brand. You may not achieve a 100% clean list, but if you spend time regularly cleaning your files, you’ll see improved results with each campaign. Of course, if you’re renting a list, you’ll want to merge/purge and dedupe. When you perform these techniques, then identify and remove the dupes and bad addresses, you’ll have the clean data you desire.


Apply Omnichannel Marketing to Your Strategy


omnichannel marketingAs a modern-day marketer, you’ve very likely worked on both digital and direct mail marketing campaigns. And if you’re a smart marketer, you’ve combined the two into a multichannel or omnichannel strategy to achieve your marketing goals. After all, marketers who add direct mail to their multichannel campaigns enjoy a 20% higher ROI than those who just use digital marketing channels. Your brand’s print and digital marketing channels should work together as strategic partners in an integrated strategy.


Multichannel marketing does just as its name suggests. It uses multiple marketing channels to achieve your desired results. Omnichannel marketing, on the other hand, takes it a step further, giving your customers a coordinated experience between channels. So no matter what device they’re shopping from—and no matter what marketing channel they use—everything will be in sync with one another. If you don’t see the point consider this: customers who receive a multichannel experience spend 13% more than those that don’t. Plus they have a 30% higher lifetime value. Let’s look at a specific example of omnichannel marketing in action.


Walgreens Coordinates Their App with their Stores and Phone Service


Like many technologically savvy brands today, Walgreens, the second-largest pharmacy chain, allows their mobile app to do business for them. This eliminates unnecessary communication. For instance, if a customer has a prescription filled at Walgreens, they can manage it entirely through the Walgreens app. It’s omnichannel in that you’re getting the same information you would if you called or visited a store. The customer is just managing it on their own terms. Using the app ultimately saves time and allows customers to oversee prescriptions at their convenience.


Create an Eye-Catching Direct Mail Piece


direct mail response ratesYou can deliver your direct mail piece on time. You can put a person’s name and other data in strategic places. But if you don’t design a mail piece that looks good, your direct mail response rates will suffer. Since we can’t really tell you what looks good to your audience and what doesn’t (beauty is oftentimes in the eye of the beholder), let’s talk about creativity for a moment. If you do something out of the ordinary, you’re sure to get more attention than if you blend into the rest of the mail in the mailbox, right? So let’s think outside the box with these possibilities:


  • Dimensional Mail. People can’t resist opening boxes, mailing tubes, and other unique packages. They have an almost 100% open rate.
  • Augmented Reality. Link the real world with a virtual world in your direct mail piece. For example, Jaguar sent a direct mail piece to prospective buyers that allowed them to explore the vehicle via their smartphones. All they had to do was point a device at the mailer to get a closer look—and hear the engine roar.
  • Video Mailers. Every day, people watch more than a billion hours of video on YouTube. Why not give them what they want in their mailbox, too?


How to Track Your Direct Mail Response Rates


As long as we’re on the subject of designing your direct mail piece let’s determine a few key strategies to help track (and improve) your direct mail response rates. To enable tracking on your direct mailers, include a method of contact on each piece. This is how you’ll determine where the response came from. You can use any number of these on each direct mail piece you send out.


  • Promo Code. Include a promo code or identifier that’s unique to each campaign. This is a quick way to monitor direct mail response rates via phone, website, or on location at your retail store.
  • Phone Number. Call tracking is a tried-and-true method of measuring direct mail response rates. Set up a dedicated line/number that only receives calls for a particular campaign.
  • QR Code. Create a QR code for each campaign and display it in a prominent location on your direct mail piece. When people scan it with their smartphones, it will prompt them to visit a landing page. Then you can check your page stats to determine the number of visitors per campaign and what they did once they arrived at the page.
  • Website Landing Page URL. In lieu of a QR code, set up a unique, personalized webpage URL, or pURL. This will serve as a landing page for the campaign, but each recipient will have their own identifier. This makes it especially easy to track each piece. If a recipient visits the page (or clicks a link, places an order, etc.), you’ll know in real-time.


The top direct mail response rates arrive via QR codes or PURLs (61%), telephone (53%), and promo/coupon codes (42%). Depending on a variety of factors, your results will vary. But if you include several tracking methods on your direct mail piece, you can easily compare them to see what works best for your brand.


Response Rates for Direct Mail: Check Your Results


Ultimately, you need to know how your direct mail campaigns performed. Your response rates for direct mail come full circle when you analyze the results. Then you can make any necessary adjustments to build a better campaign next time. With the proper data, not only can you monitor and assess your response rates, but you can also determine other direct mail marketing metrics like cost per acquisition, customer lifetime value, and the most important determinant: return on investment.



MSP offers the ultimate direct mail management software solution called Direct Mail Panorama. This revolutionary platform gives you more control and a better understanding of your direct mail marketing campaigns than ever before. You’ll streamline the direct mail process and achieve greater insight into your campaigns. It provides a “panoramic view” that allows you to make each campaign better than the last, with shorter cycle times and higher engagement rates.


If you want to boost your response rates for direct mail, apply the techniques listed here and work alongside an experienced direct mail marketing company. MSP has excelled in direct mail printing and mailing services for more than 65 years. We offer the latest equipment and postal optimization measures, plus the best customer service team to help you get the results your brand deserves. Contact an MSP representative to discuss your marketing goals today.

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