Industry Benchmarks and Comparison of Direct Mail Response Rates 

Am I receiving a decent amount of direct mail response rates? It’s not a simple yes-or-no question. Average response rates vary across industries, campaign types, and more. 

But that doesn’t mean the above question isn’t worth answering. To gauge the health of your direct mail campaigns, you need to assess your responses – including their frequency, quality, the industry’s typical response rates, and many more. 

Here in the guide, we have included ways how you can measure your direct mail response rates and tips to help you develop best practices to drive positive results with future campaigns. 

How to Measure your Direct Mail Responses 

People often think that a direct mail campaign with a large number of responses is a healthy one. Sometimes that’s the case, but the number of responses to the campaign isn’t the only relevant factor. 

Take a more strategic approach by gauging your direct mail responses from various angles. 

Track your response rates: 

Earlier, tracking direct mail responses were impossible, organisations couldn’t determine if a recipient received a direct mail piece. But with digital advances such as QR codes, tracking direct mail response rates can be an easy and automated process. 

The most straightforward method to track response rates are: 

  • QR Codes: Send recipients to a specific web or app page – ideal for novice users. 
  • Unique URLs: Send recipients to a specific web page – ideal for the number of users as they don’t need a smartphone to access a URL. 
  • Phone numbers: Send callers to a specific department or office with a unique phone number – ideal for other recipients. 

Include any of these four elements in your direct mail design to track responses. Using automation tools, you can also take this a step further with piece-by-piece delivery tracking to track the actions of individual recipients. 

Once you’ve monitored responses with these methods, you can compare the data against industry benchmarks to measure the health of your campaign. 

Gauge Response Rates Benchmarks 

According to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the average direct mail response rate is 9%, compared to the 1% average response rate for email. 

The response rates can vary based on industry and type of direct mail. To set a benchmark for your campaign, you need to find what the average is in your sector. 

Here are some high-level statistics you can look for: 

More than 74% of marketers said that direct mail delivers the best response rate and ROI over all other marketing channels. If you are in one of these industries, is direct mail one of your top marketing channels? If not, your response rate would likely be higher. 

To set a certain benchmark, talk to other professionals in your industry. Direct competitors may not be willing to reveal their response rate to you, but you can ask companies in adjacent industries what their average direct mail response rate is. 

When chatting with industry experts about their direct mail campaigns, don’t forget to ask about their ROI to see if they are on par with the average ROI of direct mail of 29%. 

Lastly, consider how response rate averages differ across various types of direct mail: 

  • House vs prospect lists: The average response for house mailing lists is 9 percent, while for prospect mailing lists – it is 5%. 
  • Type of Direct Mail: Look for the type of direct mail you’re sending – oversized envelopes have the greatest response rate – with postcards and then letters. 
  • Campaign type: Retention campaigns are most likely to have a response rate higher than 10% while acquisition campaigns are generally in the 5-10% range.  

Compare these results with your own response rates to gauge your direct marketing health

Document response quality 

The response rate is only half of the equation. You should also pay attention to how qualified the responding leads are. 

Various factors specify response quality, and they vary depending on whether you’re running a marketing campaign or a transactional campaign. 

For marketing purposes, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Does the lead align with your target audience? 
  • Did the leads convert or just respond?  
  • Did they show a high purchase intent? 

Evaluate your direct mail marketing response rates based on the answer to the above questions. If you answered “yes” to all the queries, then your direct marketing is on the right track. 

For transactional initiatives such as sending invoices, ask these: 

  • Were the recipient’s responses timely? 
  • Did they complete all the required tasks?  

The business intelligence and data analytics organisations developed some platforms to execute direct mail campaigns and track the quality of responses. Find such platforms that can help you integrate with or build into your current tech to do the same. 

Tips to Improve Future Direct Mail Response Rates 

Even if you already have some direct mail response rates, there are always chances for improvement. Use the data you collected in the last section to optimise future campaigns. 

  • Identify your trends 

After tracking your response rate and quality in the last section, find the similarities across campaigns with many high-quality responses. 

One way you can identify these trends is by using multivariate testing. Test different variations easily with functionalities such as modular HTML templates. 

  • Double down on what’s working 

Once you have identified trends across successful campaigns, use those metrics to optimise your next campaign. 

If there’s a message about any rewards that are driving higher response rates, then double down on those rewards in your direct mail. 

  • Develop best practices 

Here are some best practices you can perform: 

  • Personalisation 
  • Upbeat and friendly messaging 
  • Direct mail length should be under 5 pages
  • Track responses with QR

Final Thoughts 

When you will implement best practices and continue to track your mail campaigns, you will be able to improve your response rates continuously and scale your mail initiatives. But remember, your direct mail marketing is stronger than your omnichannel marketing strategy. 

When your direct mail is triggered with digital behaviours, it becomes more timely and relevant to your audience’s needs and as a result, it is more likely to bring a higher response rate.