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8 Tips To Dramatically Improve Direct Mail Response Rates

direct mail response rates

It’s 2023, and it can seem like marketing has been completely taken over by the latest trends, like TikTok and social media influencers. Yet it’s direct mail marketing, the tried-and-true marketing tactic, that is proving its staying power.

Recent statistics have shown how direct mail marketing can hit the right tone and reach a number of generations. Take a look:

  • ⅔ of Gen X consumers have a positive impression of companies that send out marketing mail that’s relevant to them. – USPS 
  • Nearly 90% of Millennials have a positive connection with receiving mail, with 57% of Millennial acting on offers. – USPS
  • Nearly 86% of the Gen Z have received a direct mail piece with a QR code to interact with a brand online (watch video, visit landing page, order by phone). – CMDG

With its high return on investment and its capacity to engage across a range of ages, direct mail marketing is still remarkably effective.

However, it’s not as simple as just sending out a piece of mail. The art of direct mail comes in how we can work to elicit a response, or what’s known as the direct mail response rate.

To help you make the most of your next direct mail campaign, we’re exploring how to make direct mail response more effective by incorporating strategies such as personalization, creative design, and targeted messaging. 

Follow these eight tips, and you’ll be able to craft a direct mail campaign that stands out in today’s crowded marketing landscape (and overflowing mailboxes!) to drive real results for your business.

How To Measure Your Direct Mail Response Rate

Before we jump into our tips to improve direct mail response rates, we want to share with you some important facts. Namely, how to measure your direct mail marketing campaign! 

Below we have six key terms that will help you set up and analyze your campaigns.

  1. Response rates – This is the percentage of recipients who respond to your mail piece, such as by making a purchase, filling out a form, or scanning a QR code. A higher response rate typically indicates a more successful campaign. You’ll want to define just what qualifies as a response beforehand.
  2. Return on investment (ROI) – This is a measure of the revenue generated by your campaign compared to the cost of the campaign. A higher ROI means that your campaign is generating more revenue than it’s costing you to execute. A good practice is to have a target number for your campaign (likely a conservative estimate to start). From there you’ll be able to understand how future adjustments pay off.
  3. Conversion rates – This is the percentage of recipients who take a desired action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a service, after receiving your mail piece. In comparison with the response rate, this will likely be lower.
  4. Cost per acquisition (CPA) – This is the cost of acquiring a new customer through your direct mail campaign. Lowering your CPA can help improve your campaign’s overall ROI, and will also be useful as you compare the effectiveness of direct mail marketing to any of your other marketing efforts.
  5. Tracking codes – One of the cool features of direct mail marketing is how well you can tailor your campaign. By including unique tracking codes on your mail pieces – say, for specific neighborhoods – you can track how recipients are responding to specific offers or promotions, allowing you to refine your messaging and targeting for even better results.
  6. Customer lifetime value (CLV) – This is the total amount of revenue a customer is expected to generate over their lifetime as a customer of your business. By tracking CLV, you can determine whether your direct mail campaign is attracting high-value customers who will generate more revenue for your business over time. This can also help to inform additional direct mail campaigns to generate repeat business.

Improve Your Direct Mail Response Rates With These Tips

Now that you’re clear on how to track the information your direct mail marketing campaigns will generate, let’s get to the good stuff.

Below you’ll find eight tips to improve your direct mail response rates. Play around with them yourself, or get in touch with Full Sail Media for help setting up your next direct mail campaign.

Segment your audience

Divide your mailing list into smaller, targeted groups based on demographics, purchasing behavior, or other relevant factors. For example, if you were running a pet store, a clear win would be segmenting your audience into dog owners and cat owners.

Personalize the content

Use variable data printing to personalize the content of each direct mail piece, such as addressing the recipient by name or referencing their past purchases. Following our pet store examples again, you could track information about your client’s pets’ birthdays, and send a birthday card and discount each year.

Aim for attention-grabbing design

Use high-quality images, bold typography, and colors that stand out to catch the recipient’s attention. While we do caution about using attention-grabbing design only to grab their eye, design that plays within your brand’s colors and style guide is an effective way to catch your customer’s eye.

Provide an incentive

Offer a special promotion, discount, or free sample to encourage the recipient to take action. For example, a gym could send a direct mail piece offering a free trial membership. Adjustments can be made here depending on the type of response you’re looking for. You can offer a short deadline to encourage an online sign-up, or you could encourage them to bring the mail with them to receive the discount in-store.

Include a clear call-to-action

Make it clear what action the recipient should take, whether it’s visiting a website, making a purchase, or calling for more information. As a rule of thumb, each campaign should have one main goal. As the campaign is being designed, show it to people who don’t work with you to see if they can identify the message. Seeing how potential customers interact with the message before you send it can help improve direct mail response rates.

Use a targeted landing page

Direct the recipient to a landing page on your website that is specific to the direct mail campaign. If you are sending a direct mail campaign about a seasonal window-cleaning service, make sure the landing page clearly describes the offer, shows the benefits of your service, and has an easy way for the customer to sign up.

Test and measure

Improving direct mail response rates doesn’t only happen from one campaign to the next. You can also make changes within a campaign to compare and contrast, including adjustments to the offer, design, or call-to-action. Compare one variable at a time, and you’ll soon see which has worked best.

Follow up

Just because a customer hasn’t responded to your first outreach doesn’t mean the campaign hasn’t been a success. The message may not have found them at the right moment, so set up your campaign to either include additional mailers or other points of contact. For example, a dentist office could follow up with a reminder postcard for patients who have not scheduled their annual check-up

Run Your Next Direct Mail Marketing Campaign With Full Sail Media

With these eight tips, you should have plenty of ideas now for how to improve your next direct mail campaign.

If you need help translating those ideas into action, Full Sail Media can assist you in creating a customized strategy that incorporates the latest trends and best practices in direct mail marketing. 

Ready for a direct mail marketing campaign that reaches your audience and delivers real results? Contact Full Sail Media today.