What’s A Good Direct Mail Response Rate?

by Brian on March 31, 2010

Here’s a question I constantly hear… “What’s A Good Direct Mail Response Rate?”

It’s all over the board.

We’re going to look at response rates for purchased lists.

There are too many variables in self generated lists to take into consideration.

The most important thing to remember about Direct Mail is that your goal is to get a response.

There are 3 factors to take into consideration:

  1. The quality of the list.
  2. The appearance of the mailer.
  3. The actual message.

The quality of the list.

The most important aspect of getting a response rate starts with having a good list. If the quality of your list is horrible… No matter what you do, your response rate is going to be horrible too.

At a company I was working for about 5-6 years ago, the owners decided to cut costs and buy a “cheap” mailing list. (We dropped an average of 80,000 pieces of mail each week.)

Cheap is what that mailing list was… With our regular list we averaged a 2.5 – 3% response rate, meaning 2.5 – 3% of the list we mailed to would call us.  The cheap list gave us a little less than a .02% response rate.

The appearance of the mailer.

The average U.S. mailbox collects 41lbs of junk mail per year. The average trashcan in that U.S. household collects all of it.

Your goal with your direct mail piece is to make sure it spends as much time as possible in the hands of the recipients prior to making its way to the garbage can.

Like I said before, mailers can be in many formats… From 3 x 5 postcards to 10 page full color glossy brochures.

I’ve seen both do well and I’ve seen both fall way short of their desired outcome.

The best mailer I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen more than I can count) is now the ONLY mailer I promote.

When is the last time you received an envelope in the mail that looked like a card, looked like it was hand written, had a real stamp on it and had a letter in it that appeared to be hand written that you did not open?

My guess would be never.

The actual message.

This is where most people royally screw up.

If your mail piece gets to the right person and they open it up but your message is wrong… You’ve just wasted money on that mailer.

My KEY to getting a response is to keep the message short and simple, and to provide a good call-to-action.

We are in a society where people don’t have a long attention span.

The average person in the U.S. can only read at an 8th grade level.

If a person doesn’t have a compelling reason to call you or take action, they won’t.

So what’s a good response rate?

If your list is good… The appearance of the mail piece is good and the actual message is good… Depending on what you’re pushing, you should expect somewhere between a 1-4% response rate.

The highest response rate I’ve ever seen for Direct Mail with a purchased list was in the 12% range…

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