14 Tips to Increase Direct Mail Response Rates

by Rich B

I’ve recently read a few articles on increasing direct mail response rates. There were some great tips and ideas so I thought I’d distil them into a useful list and share them here.

A typical conversion rate for direct mail is between 1-3% (depending on how advanced your data segmentation and personalisation, as well as your market sector) so it can represent a very good return on investment.

And like many things in marketing, it’s customer psychology that comes into play here. Understand your customers, employ a bit of simple psychology, learn from and apply the experience others, and you’ll push up your response rates and increase your return on investment.

Creating personalised Direct Mail can be of real value to your customers!

So here’s the condensed wisdom of the great and the good. The data is from commercial as well as charitable sources so some will be more applicable to your business than others. Use as and when you feel they may be appropriate.

  1. Analyse and use your data wisely – to make your mailing more relevant and to identify distribution savings.
  2. Where possible, stick to one, straightforward offer. Multiple messages and offers will confuse your readers.
  3. Create a website landing page – a growing proportion of customers prefer to respond online to direct mail rather than by phone.
  4. Four page letters often get better responses than two page letters
  5. Larger envelopes almost always pull in a higher response rate than smaller envelopes.
  6. Incorporate a sense of urgency with a deadline. This direct call to timely action can increase response rates.
  7. Try and incorporate current events into your mailing as these generally increase responses.
  8. Larger response coupons often lead to a higher response.
  9. Handwriting. Having a real signature or hand-written address (or simulating both) increases personalisation, the chance a letter is opened and can improve response rates.
  10. A real stamp can improve opening/response rates.
  11. Older and younger people respond best to direct mail campaigns.
  12. Try one, get one free offer. These can dramatically increase response rates – over 70% response rates isn’t unheard of!
  13. Once opened, you have just a few seconds to encourage your potential customer to read on. Create a compelling headline or ‘sticky’ creative to draw them down the page and keep the mailing hanging around the home/office.
  14. Combining a DM campaign with other marketing activities can increase a campaigns return on investment by 20%*

If you have any further tips to add, please comment as we’d love to hear them and we’ll extend the list in the future.

*source, Meta Analysis of Direct Mail by Brand Science.

 

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Marty Thomas March 3, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Another good way to give your response rates a boost is to use personal urls. An example of a Personal URL would be: yoursite.com/Jim.Smith and when “Jim” visits his personal url, the website will usually be customized to him. It also allows the marketer to track who is responding. Learn more at: http://purlem.com.

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Rich B March 4, 2011 at 10:14 am

Absolutely Marty. Thanks, I’ll add that one to the list.

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Natalie April 16, 2012 at 10:32 am

This may seem a bit facetious, but the success of your direct marketing campaign is fully dependent on your subscribers seeing and responding to the mail you send. Effort spent on writing the material is wasted if the mail never actually reaches your subscribers. Investing in address validation tools can prevent incorrect addresses permeating your contact lists. The end result is a more accurate database of contacts that will generate better response rates and increase productivity of your sales and marketing efforts.

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Rich B April 16, 2012 at 10:39 am

Nothing facetious about it Natalie. Good quality, clean data – including full, accurate addresses, are vital and something we (and I’m sure you) help customers to achieve. It’s one of the first steps to increase delivery rates and a key step to driving up those all important response rates.

Good comment – thanks :-)

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