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5 Tactics to Boost Direct Mail Response Rates

Did your last direct mail campaign feel like a one-way correspondence? Before you swear off mailers for good, here’s a bit of perspective.

Direct mail is still one of the most effective ways to reach your customers. While email has the lowest cost per acquisition, direct mail has a far better response rate, according to data from the Direct Marketing Association.


More than half of us (55 percent) still look forward to getting our mail as part of our “coming home” ritual, and 67 percent feel it’s more personal than email, according to a 2015 report by the U.S. Postal Service.

That said, given the higher costs of mailing, we all want to make every piece count.

Before your next mailer drops, make sure you’ve covered your bases by using these five essential tactics to boost direct mail response rates.

1. Clean Your List

You probably clean your email lists periodically, either removing people who haven’t opened a recent campaign or offering an incentive to re-engage subscribers. You’ll want to make sure your mailing list is clean, too.

First, make sure you don’t have duplicates of the same address. There’s no need to send multiple copies of the same mailer to one household.

Next, work with your mailing provider. Ensure they run your list through the National Change of Address database to remove any known bad addresses. They can also help you lower costs by making sure addresses are complete, conform to postal requirements, and are pre-sorted.

2. Test Before Sending

If you’re planning a high-value mailing where you want a great response rate, make sure you’re sending to your most engaged customers. Try a smaller-value campaign you can track, such as a low-cost giveaway with purchase.

Also try testing different offers to see which gets the best response — use a small group, then send the best performer to your large group.

3. Personalize Everything

Consumers are used to seeing personalized letters, but not every business personalizes their postcard mailers.

Use variable printing technologies to include personal details—not just the name, but the product the consumer has previously purchased and a targeted offer. When your customers receive an offer that is perfect for them, they’ll be more likely to respond.

4. Create Custom Materials

Make your mail pieces stand out.

A die-cut postcard, a stick-on item such as a branded sticky note pad or magnet, or an enticing envelope color will catch your customer’s eye and increase the likelihood they’ll read your offer. And don’t forget about the power of the lumpy package. Include a pen or some other item in your mailer to pique curiosity.

5. Make It Part of An Integrated Direct Marketing Campaign

Don’t expect a one-off postcard to do the trick.

Help your customers remember to respond to your offers by making them part of a larger direct marketing campaign.

You can send a series of informative mailers, with special offers interspersed, to on-board new customers and help deepen their relationship with your business. Help manage mailing costs — and ensure you’re hitting each customer’s preferred contact method — by integrating direct mail letters and postcards with emails, text messages, and personal phone calls.

Looking to bring in new customers? Try a trigger campaign. You can send a series of mailers to people who move into a neighborhood you serve, letting them know about your business and what you have to offer over a few months. The DMA found great success here: 39 percent of consumers try a business for the first time because of a direct mail campaign.

Make Direct Mail Work For You

These five tactics can go a long way to boost response rates, but coordinating all the necessary elements is no small feat. There’s the data, print production, assembly and delivery—not to mention the execution of any supporting digital assets.

If that sounds overwhelming, let DATA take the lead on your next direct mail campaign.

We have the technology and expertise to streamline and manage every aspect, from data management and personalization to printing and delivery.

Through national lettershop resources, we can insert hundreds of thousands of pieces a day and send them across Canada and the United States, using capabilities like matched-mail inserting, ink jet, polybagging, and dimensional mail.

Want to make sure your next direct mail piece hits all the right notes and achieves maximum ROI? Download this helpful checklist, "8 Steps to Boosting Direct Mail Response Rates." 


Topics Marketing Financial Services Government Retail Services


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