Direct Mail Marketing

Direct Mail Response Rate: What Can You Expect

February 26, 2019
Rachel Wedlund

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 Average Direct Mail Response Rate?

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 last year, 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 just since the previous year, indicating that direct mail is becoming more effective than ever.

Read more interesting direct mail statistics here.

direct mail response rate chart
Source: Data and Marketing Association

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 .03%, according to the DMA.

Of course, 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 Rate: 3 Tips

While direct mail’s average response rates are pretty impressive, there are several steps you should take to maximize your results.

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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, personalized 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.

Are you accurately measuring your direct mail response rates? Learn how to track direct mail performance here.

Let’s Improve Your Direct Mail Response Rate

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.
Start for free