What is a good direct mail response rate?
What is a good direct mail response rate these days? This is one of the most frequently asked questions among first-time direct mailers. Understanding direct mail response rates and statistics can help you manage your expectations. But you shouldn’t live and breathe by these statistics. Instead, you should focus on measuring your own response rates and working hard to improve them.
But if you really want to know…
According to the Direct Marketing Association, the average response for a direct mail campaign is around 2.6%. This means 2.6% of recipients responded to the direct mail piece in some way — by calling a number, visiting a website, or sending back a reply mailer. Keep in mind this is a general statistic. It’s not specific to any particular industry or vertical. So the average response for direct mail pieces in your industry might be higher or lower than this number.
So how useful is this number to you? Not very. Who cares how you compare to some general average? The best thing you can do is forget about that 2.6%, and focus on testing and improving your own response rates. This is all that really matters. You need to establish a “control” by sending a first campaign out. Then you need to try and beat the control with a variant of the original theme. This is how direct mail marketing works — or how it should work.
A Good Response Rate, Defined
So let’s revisit the question we started with. What is a good direct mail response rate these days? A good response rate is one that helps you achieve your marketing goals. Period. Ideally, the campaign should cost less than what it produces. So you want to accomplish some kind of goal, while enjoying a positive return on your investment (ROI). This is a good direct mail response rate.
Once you have achieved this, you can start trying to beat your control. Let’s say you start off with a response rate of 2.8%. You should not be satisfied with this number — even if it yields a positive ROI. Why? Because simple changes to the campaign might bring a 3.5% response rate, or higher. You have to experiment. You have to make singular changes to your direct mail campaign, and then compare the results to your original campaign (the control).
When I refer to singular changes, I’m talking about changing one element at a time. It has to be one item at a time. This is the only way you can measure the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of your changes. Most marketers experiment with different headlines, copy, images, offers and mailing lists. These are good places to start.
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