Direct mail response rates

How to improve direct mail response rates in 8 steps

Direct mail is a tried-and-true form of marketing what brings a lot of value to the table. So, why do so many businesses fail to use it?

For some business owners the question isn’t whether to use direct mail, but rather how to improve direct mail response rates.

Because they already know the incredible stats like:

Which is exactly why today, we’re going to discuss 8 opportunities for how to improve direct mail response rates and grow your business.

1. Define Your Audience

Who is your message for? That is the question every marketer should be asking themselves as they consider creating a direct mail piece. The more specific you can get when defining your audience, they better. If you don’t already have one (or several) avatars designed for your business, this is a great opportunity to create them—and even make up some new ones!

Do you find yourself leaning into a broad “something for everyone” type of message? This won’t get you the direct mail open rate you’re after. Instead, ask yourself:

Who are my best current customers: What are they buying from you? How much are they spending? How often do they shop? What are their interests? These are all questions that will help you determine who the right fit is for your product or service—and who your defined audience is, as well.

Who is my competition: Study their website and their social media channels and sign up to receive their communication. Who they are targeting will give you good insights into who you should be targeting.

Consider the offer: Not everyone in your audience will benefit from what your direct mail piece is selling. Ask yourself who would benefit from it the most?

Dig into demographics and firmographics: Again, your direct mail offer should not be cookie-cutter. When you’re looking to improve your direct mail open rate you want to ask yourself pointed questions about your ideal audience leaning into demographics and firmographics like gender, marital status, education level, hobbies, interests, and estimated income.

2. Create Segments Within Your Defined Audience

Segmentation by audience characteristics

Once you’ve properly defined your audience, consider implementing list segmentation to help improve your direct mail open rate. Segmentation is dividing up your direct mail list based on group characteristics. Different from defining in that it provides a next level glimpse into your perfect prospect, you can segment by things like:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Homeowner versus renter
  • Geographical location
  • Amount spent over time
  • Level of engagement
  • Point of sales cycle

3. Utilize Personalization

On average, the typical direct mail response rates are about 4-5%. Adding a name to your direct mail piece can increase response rates by 135%. Needless to say, personalizing your message can go a long way toward its success.

When it comes to direct mail, though, personalization doesn’t start and stop with using someone’s name. There are a lot of opportunities to entertain here including adding a short, handwritten note or sending an annual “thank you for your business” piece that acknowledges they spent their money with you.

4. Align Your Content

When you use direct mail, you usually have limited space to get your message across. Make it all count!

From what you utilize as your headline to how you tell your audience to act, everything should flow together. This will help to keep your direct mail reader from feeling deceived or confused, which could deter them from reading your piece all the way through.

You should also make a point to keep copy on a direct mail piece light and tight, giving every word a job. This makes it easy for your reader to digest.

5. Utilize Thoughtful Design

Today’s direct mail design features so many options to grab attention among other mail in the pile! So, why not REALLY go for it with your direct mail piece? Today’s tech allows for the creation of fun, unique pieces that, yes, may cost a bit more to create, but can also go a long way to improving the typical direct mail response rates.

Not sure what’s offered in today’s market from a creative perspective? Ask a creative! They’ll be happy to go over options you’ve likely never even thought of like texture, special folds, or the power of images versus an illustration.

6. Provide an Incentive

Direct mail incentives

When you want to ensure someone acts on your direct mail offer, be sure to include an incentive. After all, your customers don’t actually care about YOU (sorry!) as much as they care about what is in it for THEM.

So, what are some incentives you might consider using on your direct mail piece?

Coupons: These make a great incentive for a direct mail piece because recipients often hold onto them, putting them in a place where they see it often such as the front of their refrigerator.

Free Gifts: Who doesn’t want to receive something for free? An offer like this is two-fold because it not only entices your reader, it can also create a sense of urgency. Something like “The first 100 people to respond” is a great way to encourage fast action among direct mail recipients.

Free Sample: When it comes to selling more, one of the biggest barriers comes down to whether or not your prospect will LIKE what they buy. Jump this hurdle with the offer of a free sample. From a mini bottle of the shampoo you’re selling to a free trial of your software, nothing encourages a purchase like loving what you got to try for free.

7. Combine Direct Mail with Additional Strategies

Have you ever heard of multi-channel marketing? This is a way marketers combine two or more channels (direct mail, online advertising, email marketing, etc.) to share the same message in an effort to reach a wider audience.

On average, multi-channel marketing campaigns have been known to increase conversion rates by 40%.

8. Track, Test and Tweak

Before you send anything out to your direct mail list, be sure you’re prepared to collect information about its performance. This will help you understand what is working—and what isn’t—with your direct mail audience.

Make modifications or adjustments as necessary to your direct mail campaign to ensure your piece generates the type of direct mail open rate you’re after.

Direct mail marketing has a lot of benefits. You may have tried it before and not gotten the results you desired. But in knowing how to improve your direct mail response rates, we hope you’re willing to try it again!  Whether you’re a new business looking to expand brand awareness or you’re an established organization hoping to find new customers, direct mail marketing is a wonderful way to connect you to your audience—and it’s less utilized than digital, making it unexpected for your audience.

The quality of data you receive from Data Axle USA is important. We realize that accurate, quality information is a key component of your business’s growth. So, we invest over $20 million every year and dedicate over 300 full-time researchers to ensure our business and consumer records are kept up to date. In other words, when you purchase our mailing and email lists, you can expect to get the highest data quality for your sales, marketing, research, and reference needs.