Wondering how your direct mail response rate stacks up?

Or, maybe you’re new to the channel and are curious about the average direct mail response rate.

These are some of the most common questions we get from marketers. Understandably, knowing how to forecast and measure response rates is critical to your direct mail campaign planning. So, let’s just get right to it.

What is the Response Rate for Direct Mail and How to Measure It?

Direct mail marketing success rate shows how many people have responded to your mailings. To calculate direct mail or email campaign response rates, you only need to divide the number of responses by delivered pieces. For example, if you mailed 5000 pieces and 500 customers converted, the response rate is 10%.

Even though the calculation is easy, there is a significant problem with determining direct mail response rates. How can we check whether a specific recipient read the mailing? The mail you deliver must encourage consumers to take action. Reaching the destination is not enough.

The Most Popular Ways to Measure Direct Mail Campaign Response Rates

There are some standard approaches used to capture mail responses. They are cheap to adopt and have proven effective for tracking mail marketing efficiency.

Most businesses adopting mail marketing campaigns measure responses using:

  • Trackable URLs. A trackable URL is a landing page or website created specifically to track the results of a direct mail campaign. You will need to include the custom URL on your mail pieces to drive the traffic to the necessary page. Each person coming to that URL means that your marketing efforts are successful.
  • Trackable phone number. Trackable phone numbers work similarly to trackable URLs. You create a unique call tracking number for each mail marketing campaign and record how many people dialed it. You can either use a dedicated toll-free number that automatically forwards leads to your support team or integrate call tracking software that records the received calls.
  • Coupon codes and special offers. When consumers redeem coupon codes and offers they receive by mail, you can count each conversion as a response. Besides being convenient to track, this approach is also highly effective for activating your target audience and driving sales. People love getting a discount or buying something at a lower price.
  • QR codes. QR codes are machine-readable codes customers scan with their mobile phones to go to a website, check the location, buy a product, or complete any other action. Adding a QR to your mail design is a simple way to see what percentage of the target audience interacts with the mailings.
  • Social media. Add the information about your social media accounts to the design of your mail pieces. It will attract more followers and allow you to measure the response rate direct mail marketing accurately.
  • Direct questions in feedback forms. Feedback forms are an additional way to ask people where they come from. Add a question ‘How did you learn about our brand?’ to see how many leads came thanks to your direct mail campaign.

Be sure to implement these approaches before starting a mailing campaign. You need to plan everything and collect data on direct mail marketing success from the first item delivered.

Also, note that you will need marketing automation software to capture responses. It would take too much time to record and summarize all data manually.

What Is the Average Response Rate For Direct Mail

Digital marketers are often surprised when they learn the facts about direct mail ROI. This is because—when it comes to response rate—direct mail beats digital channels by a landslide.

Direct mail returned an average response rate of 9% for house lists and 4.9% for prospect lists, according to the Data & Marketing Association’s 2018 Response Rate Report. Both numbers represent the highest average direct mail response rates since the DMA began tracking these statistics in 2003. The house list response rate average has actually doubled, indicating that direct mail is becoming more effective than ever.

Read more interesting direct mail statistics here.


In fact, direct mail receives higher average response rates than any digital direct response channel. Email, social and paid search each average about 1%, while online display garners only 0.3%, according to the DMA.

Ready to captivate your customers?
Send personalized direct mail automatically based on customer actions.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
By submitting this form, I confirm that I have read and understood Inkit's Privacy Policy.

What is a Good Direct Mail Response Rate?

What is a good response rate for direct mail marketing? A good direct mail response rate for your campaigns could be more or less than the average. The response rate you expect should vary depending on your business as well as your marketing goals. Some direct mail campaigns are more about brand awareness or reinvigorating an online funnel, and thus the performance rate cannot be easily measured in terms of responses. In other cases, conversion is the ultimate goal and brands hit the response rate out of the park.

Click here to read about how Bite Squad earned an 18% direct mail response rate on a reactivation postcard.

How to Get a Good Direct Mail Response Rates: 6 Tips

If you believe your current direct mail response rates are not good enough, use these tips to make more people convert. Here are the ways to make mailings more convincing and engaging.

1. Combine Direct Mail and Email

Direct mail works best when integrated into multi-channel marketing efforts, rather than used alone in isolated campaigns. Email and direct mail work especially well together, boosting response rates by as much as 35% compared to standalone campaigns in either channel, according to the DMA. One study even found that consumers spend 25% more when brands use direct mail with email.

2. Use Built-In Direct Mail Audiences

To get the best bang for your buck, do not buy or lease a direct mail list. The brands that are killing it with direct mail are not simply area mailing entire zip codes or purchasing huge lists based on their customer profiles for batch mailings (though there can be a time and place for this).

With modern direct mail technology, you can create highly segmented and targeted direct mail lists based on the customer data you already have. This helps ensure not only a strong response rate, but also a high response quality. For example, consider a lead generation direct mail campaign. You can generate many leads with a free offer on a postcard, but the quality of those leads is likely to be much higher if you are using built-in audiences rather than purchased addresses.

3. Design Direct Mail Workflows Based on Triggers

Today’s direct mail can be just as intuitive, reactive and customized as any marketing you’re doing online. Direct mail is no longer just for large campaigns that are planned weeks or even months in advance. Using Inkit’s API or one of our direct mail CRM integrations, you can send direct mail based on events and behaviors in your customer timeline. This is called direct mail automation or triggered direct mail, and it allows you to send data-driven direct mail in real time.

For example, you might add a postcard closer to an existing cart abandonment email series, or trigger a thank you postcard as a personal touch for new customers.

4. Use Address Verification Software to Improve Direct Mail Acquisition Response Rates

Sometimes, the real reason behind low direct mail response rates is inaccurate address data. Businesses invest in sophisticated design and witty messages but fail to verify their mailing lists. As a result, many pieces never reach the target. It harms direct mail success rates and causes financial losses.

That’s why you should integrate software that validates address information. Vendors like Inkit offer advanced address checkers that easily connect with the marketing software and CRM you currently use. They automatically parse, format, and verify each address to guarantee it’s mailable. Thanks to verified delivery details, there is a higher chance that marketing materials will end up in customers’ hands and make them respond.

5. Make Direct Mail Personalized

When a mail piece has customized content and the customer’s name, the lead is more likely to convert. Personalized messages attract more attention and create a stronger bond between your brand and the recipient.

You need to connect mail automation software and your CRM system to implement tailored mailings. Such integration allows marketers to generate unique mail pieces for each person based on templates and automatically deliver them at the right moment.

6. Test You Mailings

Want to know ​​what is a good direct mail response rate for your business? Test your mailings to find that out. If your response rate is low, maybe you have done something wrong. Then, it’s better to check the campaign on the part of your target audience and find the problem.

A/B testing is the most common way to test response rates. First, you measure the efficiency of your new campaign delivering mailings to a limited number of people. Then, you make changes to enhance mail pieces and send another round of mailings to compare the result. This approach enables you to pick the mail design generating the highest response rates.

Improve Your Direct Mail Response Rate With Inkit

Send is a direct mail automation API marketers can use to implement trigger-based and personalized campaigns. Connect it with currently used software to deliver tailored mail aligned with digital communications. Such mailings are data-driven and ensure maximum response rates.

If you want to learn about how direct mail automation with Inkit can increase your direct mail response rates, demo our software here.

Ready to captivate your customers?
Send personalized direct mail automatically based on customer actions.
By submitting this form, I confirm that I have read and understood Inkit's Privacy Policy.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Up Next

Get Started With Inkit Today

Startups can now receive up to one year of complimentary access to Inkit.
Your work email address...
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.