5 Tips to increase your Direct Mail response rate.

It can be tricky finding the right marketing formula for your direct mail campaign – sometimes your message returns a great response, other times it fails to deliver. The real trick is to trial, tweak and try again, to deliver the best direct mail acquisition response rates.

Typical conversion rate for direct mail acquisition campaigns can range from 1-5% but the ROI really depends on how well you have targeted your message, how personalised or tailored your approach is and how well you understand your target audience.

Knowing how to measure your direct mail response rates will aid your marketing strategy and allow you to set SMART goals and objectives as part of your campaign planning for your marketing activity. Digital marketers might be surprised to hear that the average response rate for direct mailing lists according to the DMA report 2018 are 9% for house lists and 4.9% for prospects lists.

Direct marketing can be a valuable acquisition tool either as a stand-alone mailing piece or as part of a larger marketing campaign. To help you out we’ve compiled 5 key pointers that should help you increase your direct mail marketing response rate and boost your marketing return on investment (MROI).

1. Clearly define your audience and manage your Prospects mailing list.

It sounds obvious but if you don’t focus on the right target audience with the right message then you may find you are making a wasted effort targeting the wrong prospects list. If you want to create an engaging piece of direct mail for your audience, then your audience’s profile needs to be clearly defined so your creative message speaks directly to them and their wants, desires or needs. Don’t mess around, make sure your offer or message is clear and easy to digest – keep it simple to grab their attention.

Maintaining an up-to-date database for your mailing list is vital as 2.3million householders move every year and over 500,000 die. If you don’t regularly clean up your prospect data to de-dupe, remove gone-aways and suppress against 3rd party mailing lists such as the Mailing Preference Service (MPS), the National Change of Address (NCOA), or the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS), then you will not only be wasting money on postage, print and returns management, but your results will also be skewed due to poor prospect list management.

2. Make your offer stand-out and have a clear Call-to-Action.

Ensure you have a clear reason behind your mailing, are you looking to generate brand awareness, acquire new customers, retain existing customers and build loyalty, or re-activate customers who haven’t purchased from you in a while? Whatever your goal is you will need to align your offer and call-to-action to your goal in order to make your communication relevant.

Limited time offers, discount codes that drive customers in store or online, work well to encourage re-purchase and new customers to trial, or it could be that your piece is more educational, offering them advice or new insight and the call to action is to go online to sign up to a service.

Consider AIDA, Attention, Interest, Desire and Action, when creating your direct marketing material – first you need to grab their attention, then get them interested in your product or service, create a desire and vitally, actually get your audience to take action.

3. Connect your Direct Mail with online response.

Drive your audience to your social media and a website to take action. Simplifying the ease of response helps to increase the advertising mail response rates and boosts the marketing ROI.

As a direct result of receiving direct mail:

70% of people go online to respond*

37% of people bought or ordered as a result of receiving mail**

With average response rates driving people online, you can see why adding direct mail to the marketing mix can boost ROI by 12%***


4. Personalise your Direct Mail.

Personalisation goes further than just adding a name to your communications, if you get personal (not in a creepy way!) with your customers and make a human connection, you will build greater engagement and response. Remember every customer is different in their interests & purchasing habits. They are at different life stages and live in different locations, so you can use this information to personalise your direct mail communication to them. There are 3 key areas to consider adding personalisation;

1. Including their name.

Referring to your customer or prospect by name not just on an address but within the content, makes them feel you are talking directly to them.

2. Personalised content.

Tailoring your message for different customer groups, makes the communication more relevant for them and will boost response rate. Discount coupons are commonly based on previous purchasing behaviour – a highly targeted and effective approach.

3. Images can be personalised too.

It is not just text that can be variable and personalised to different target groups, you can also do this with images.

5. Test, test and test some more.

Make sure you have put in place ways to measure response and check each campaigns effectiveness. Use dedicated offer codes, landing pages, phone numbers or email addresses. Then you can use your response rate report to tweak your campaign for better results next time.

Use A/B Testing to help you figure out the best offer or message that generates your best conversion rates. A/B testing allows you to compare two or more different versions of the same direct mailing piece but be mindful to only run A/B test if you have a significant volume for it to provide you with meaningful insight in your response rate report. 5,000 to 8,000 is the industry recognised minimum range for a single test mailing volume, so if you are testing two options you will need to be mailing double this volume.

Improving your Direct Mail acquisition response rates.

Following these 5 tips will undoubtably help you to improve your direct mail acquisition response rates and deliver on your marketing return on investment targets. Being clear on measurement of your direct mail campaign will allow you to set SMART goals and objectives as part of your campaign planning for your marketing activity strategy.

If you are looking for inspiration for your next direct mail marketing campaign why not take a look at our article on Innovative uses of direct mail marketing.


* JICMAIL, Kantar TNS, 2017

** IPA touchpoints, 2018

*** Royal Mail MarketReach, BrandScience, 2014

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