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Reach vs. Frequency: The Key To Your Direct Mail Marketing Success

With the holiday season upon us, our mailboxes are overflowing with Christmas cards and year-end promotions. 

In addition to making our homes and holidays brighter, these full mailboxes remind us business owners and marketers of an important idea: it’s time to start thinking about our direct mail marketing strategies for the new year! 

To do that, any direct mail marketing conversation starts with one idea: reach vs frequency. Understanding how these concepts intertwine can be the key to unlocking the full potential of your marketing efforts.

Today, we’re drawing on our expertise at Full Sail Media as both a printer and marketing agency to explain these two concepts, including which one is the key to your direct mail marketing campaign’s success.

Reach vs. Frequency: Understanding Direct Mail Marketing’s Fundamental Relationship

To make sure we’re on the same page, let’s talk about some marketing fundamentals. Reach refers to the number of people who see your message, while frequency is the rate at which they see it. 

Let’s say you have 1,000 people on your mailing list. If you mail them all one piece of mail, your reach is 1,000 and your frequency is 1.

Striking the right balance between these two factors is crucial for an effective direct mail campaign.

Direct mail’s effectiveness hinges on the balance between reach and frequency. Here’s a closer look at the distinctive qualities of each:


Reach may be thought of as just the number of people who receive your message, but there are some important nuances to take into consideration, too. Consider the following:

  • First Impressions – Make a memorable impact with a broader audience, laying the foundation for brand awareness.
  • Visual Appeal – Part of that first impression is possible by utilizing eye-catching design and compelling visuals to capture attention in a crowded mailbox.
  • Strategic Targeting – Identify and target specific demographics to ensure your message resonates with the right audience.


As you may have heard by now, most customers need to hear a message repeated a number of times (between 3 and 7 tends to be the sweet spot). 

This is how frequency helps to support your direct mail campaign:

  • Consistent Brand Presence – Reinforce your brand identity by maintaining a regular and consistent presence in the recipient’s mailbox.
  • Building Trust – Establish a sense of reliability and trust through repeated interactions, fostering a stronger connection.
  • Strategic Messaging – Gradually unfold your narrative, allowing for a more nuanced communication of your brand story.
  • Actionable Data – The more you send mailings, the more information you’ll have on what works and what can be improved upon.

Getting Started: 4 Tips For Finding The Right Mailing Frequency

By repeating your message to the right audience, you stand a better chance at having that message heard and acted upon. Because of that, frequency is a better metric for cultivating customer relationships. 

But it’s not as simple as choosing one or the other. Prioritizing frequency also means learning to understand how frequently you should mail. If this is your first campaign, or one of your first, these are a few essentials to keep in mind: 

  1. Start With 21 – The Direct Marketing Association recommends a direct mail frequency of 21 days. That means, on average, a mail once every 3 weeks as a way to start getting your brand to stay top-of-mind for your audience.
  2. Track Customer Interactions – Use CRM systems to monitor customer engagement and adjust frequency accordingly. You can do this through customized URLs and QR codes on the mailing that let you know which actions your customers are taking.
  3. Segment Your Audience – Tailor your frequency based on customer segments and their preferences. 
  4. Adapt Based on Campaign Type – Different campaigns may require varying frequency levels. Tailor it to suit your goals.

From these steps, you’ll start to see which of your customers respond to different types of mailing frequencies. Did they scan your QR code after the 2nd mailing? Or the 4th? Do they look up links for sales right away, or do they need a few reminders? 

By implementing these systems, you’re on the path to improving your direct mail campaigns.

Going Further: The 4 Metrics That Help You Measure Your Campaign’s Impacts

In addition to the abovementioned steps, you’ll also be starting to track the metrics below. While you may not be able to act on the data from the very first mailing, the information you receive over the coming weeks and months will allow you to make subtle, effective adjustments that set you up for long-term success.

  1. Average Response Rates – Response rates vary across industries and campaign types. On average, direct mail tends to have response rates ranging from 1% to 5%. Factors such as the quality of your mailing list, the appeal of your offer, and the effectiveness of your call to action play crucial roles in influencing response rates.
  2. Campaign Lengths – Patience is a virtue in direct mail. While some campaigns may yield results in a few weeks, others might take several months to gain traction. Factors such as the complexity of your offer, the buying cycle of your product or service, and the frequency of your mailings contribute to the overall campaign length.
  3. Return on Investment (ROI) – Calculating ROI involves assessing not only direct sales but also the long-term value of acquired customers. Direct mail often exhibits a delayed ROI, with the full impact unfolding over an extended period. A comprehensive analysis that considers both short-term and long-term gains provides a more accurate picture of your campaign’s success.
  4. Conversion Rates – Direct mail can influence various stages of the customer journey. Understanding conversion rates helps gauge how well your direct mail efforts guide recipients through the desired actions. Factors influencing conversion include the clarity of your call to action, the relevance of your offer, and the ease of response.

Work With Full Sail Media On Your Next Direct Mail Marketing Campaign

Getting the balance between reach and frequency is an evolving process. If you’re looking for an experienced hand to help guide your strategy, Full Sail Media is here to help. We’re a one-stop-shop for strategy, marketing, and fulfillment. Ready to build targeted, engaging, and consistent campaigns to propel your business forward? Get in touch with our team today.