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Direct Mail Statistics, Best Practices & Tips

Many marketers may feel the digital age has made traditional marketing tactics obsolete, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Tangible marketing assets—the kind made with real paper—are still powerful tools in a marketer’s arsenal, and direct mail’s effectiveness, in particular, is continually on the rise. Unlike the digital advertising that bombards us daily, marketing postcards and other printed assets capture and hold a recipient’s attention right at the mailbox, giving them something to hold in their hands and post on the fridge. They’re a persistent reminder to act in a world where most messages are fleeting and forgettable.

Not convinced? Check out these staggering statistics about the importance—and continued growth—of direct mail marketing:

  • Increasing Response Rates: Direct mail response rates have seen significant growth, with response rates for house list direct mail increased at 43 percent according to the 2023 ANA Response Report.
  • Popularity Among Younger Generations: More than 4 in 5 millennials (84 percent) take the time to look through their mail. Interestingly, 64 percent of them prefer scanning for useful information in mail over email.
  • Better Than Digital: A 2021 study by the Direct Marketing Association found that 73% of consumers stated that they prefer direct mail for brand communication because unlike digital ads, it’s tangible.
  • Preference for Postcards: The Data and Marketing Association reported that postcards receive the highest response rate at 4.24%, and letters/envelopes receive the lowest response rate at 3.5%.

With these statistics in mind, let’s delve into the best practices for a successful direct mail campaign.

Direct Mail Best Practices

Learn from Past Customer Behavior, and Adjust Accordingly

Before designing a new campaign, it’s best to learn from previous attempts. Take a look at the histories of both engaged and disengaged customers in your CRM, and try to pinpoint a few trends. What might have caused disengaged customers to go quiet? Are customers going cold after buying a particular product or service? After engaging with a particular campaign? Are the nonresponsive customers receiving too many emails? Impersonal messages? How do their customer journeys differ from the journeys of your most engaged customers?

This may seem time-consuming and costly, but one often overlooked key to effective marketing is analytics. By looking at what’s worked (or not) in the past can marketers tailor their print outreach to customer preferences and avoid repeating costly mistakes.

Personalize Your Direct Mail

The power of personalization cannot be overstated. Tailoring your mail to the recipient can significantly increase engagement and response rates. In fact, recent research from Marketo found that 79 percent of consumers say they are only likely to engage with an offer if it has been personalized to reflect previous interactions they’ve had with the brand.

Here are a few ways to personalize:

  1. Location: Tailor mailers to geographic preferences, including language, time zone, and regional lingo. For local businesses, consider including location-specific information such as directions and local phone numbers. Personalizing direct mail by location is the first step in showing customers that you’re reaching out to them intentionally.
  2. Name: They say our own names are our favorite sounds, and that palys out in the data on print marketing. Simply adding recipients’ names to mailers can increase response rates significantly, making the mail more attention-grabbing. Research from Canon Solutions America shows that adding a person’s name to a mailer can increase the response rate to 44 percent. (Add full color, too, and that increase skyrockets up to 135 percent!)
  3. Customer History: Research recipients’ histories with your brand, including their purchases and engagement, and tailor your outreach accordingly. In fact, according to Marketo, 79 percent of customers say they’re only likely to engage with an offer if it has been personalized to reflect their previous interactions with the brand.

Customers, both new and existing, want to feel as though brands value them and want their business, specifically, and personalizing direct mail campaigns is a powerful way to ensure they do.

Support Cross-Channel Campaigns

Combine direct mail with your digital marketing efforts to provide a unified customer experience across every channel. Your printed assets can complement digital channels by nurturing customers and prospects throughout the buying journey. Here are a few examples to get you started:

  1. Digital marketing can increase brand awareness ahead of direct mail campaigns, so when that flyer lands in a neighbor’s mailbox, they’ll be more likely to take a second look.
  2. Digital platforms can become A/B testing grounds for pricey printed materials, so you can be confident you’re investing in the perfect postcard design.
  3. Digital outreach, such as newsletters and teasers on social media, can prime audiences to look out for specific high-impact mailers such as your annual holiday catalog.

You can even go a step further with blending traditional and digital marketing by making your mailers interactive, using your print outreach to encourage recipients to interact with your brand online. Today’s direct mail campaigns can boost engagement and ROI by encouraging recipients to grab their phones and interact more deeply with the brand right away. QR codes can provide more information, direct recipients to purchase pages, or even launch AR experiences.

Remember the Basics

Despite all the advancements we’ve seen in recent years, it’s essential to remember the fundamentals of direct mail. So, along with all the shiny new bells and whistles you can (and should!) be using to jazz up your outreach, keep in mind the basic best practices of creating an effective mailer:

  • Keep it short. Consumers have information flying at them all day, every day. A snappy headline and a few easy-to-read details will be much more effective than a wall of text.

  • Call attention to your call-to-action. Be sure it’s clear what action you want consumers to take after they’ve read your mailer.

  • Provide several ways for recipients to respond. Some customers will want to call or come into the store, while others will prefer online engagement. Be sure to include options that will appeal to all these preferences.

  • Include a P.S. Sweeten the deal with a little extra incentive—a limited time offer, an add-on, or a teaser of something new and exciting to bring customers into the store.

Find the Right Marketing Execution Partner

Marketers at both the national and local level are busy, and there’s no sugarcoating it: direct mail outreach is a time commitment. But working with a partner that can both handle the production and distribution of direct mail materials and support digital marketing initiatives can streamline your marketing efforts—and ensure the two strategies go hand in hand. The right partner will ease the marketing burden on companies while minimizing costs and maximizing results.

How OneTouchPoint Stands Out

We pride ourselves on being just that partner, supporting our marketing clients in a variety of critical ways.

Centralized Assets

Our U.Connect platform enables localized digital and traditional marketing campaigns, centralizing collateral and print orders to maintain brand integrity along with campaign and budget transparency.

World-Class Printing and Mailing Services

Our state-of-the-art production facilities ensure every mailer is showcasing your brand in its best light, and our suite of mailing services are tailored to fit virtually any project or budget. We mail over 155 million pieces of mail each year, offer list rental services, and have USPS experts on staff to ensure your mail pieces meet all regulations and are mailed at the most cost-effective rates possible.

Confidential Customer Information

At OneTouchPoint, we understand the importance of maintaining the security of confidential customer data while executing direct mail campaigns. Below are key measures we take to ensure the highest standards of data protection:

  • Data Management: All client data is encrypted and transmitted electronically through secure transfer methods such as FTP or VPN. It is never disclosed, and unless we’re required to keep information for compliance issues, it is deleted upon the completion of the production cycle and billing.
  • Personnel: Only thoroughly vetted personnel with access to sensitive client data are allowed to work on specific programs. These individuals must comply with our privacy policy and complete training on privacy policies and procedures.
  • Materials: We perform quality checks on each mailing, ensuring all items are correctly printed, fulfilled, and mailed. Confidential waste materials are disposed of in privacy bins and shredded by our recycling vendor.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We take great pride in delivering secure, high-quality, and perfectly personalized direct mail campaigns as integral parts of our clients’ multichannel marketing strategies. When your business is ready to enhance its direct mail strategies, we invite you to contact us to learn more.

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