Direct Mail Response Rates

You might be thinking of running a direct mail exercise and unsure about how to work out what sort of response rates you are likely to receive.  There are many variables when considering this but there are some good rules of thumb you can work to. 

If we assume that your product is competitively priced, is in demand and the customer does not have a bad experience when they attempt to purchase then we can start to put some numbers to the type of direct mail you are attempting.

You need to choose the format of the mail piece which you are sending and there are 2 main product types.  A closed mail piece which needs opening like a letter or an open mail piece which does not need opening like an A5 postcard or a small brochure.

Typically, you will see response rates for a postcard between 4-7% and for letters it is slightly lower at 3.5-5%.    So which format should I use?  We at advise that the most cost effective medium is an A5 postcard.

Closed mail pieces are appropriate if you have a sensitive product you are selling which might have something to do with the recipient’s health or financial situation.  The fact that the recipient has to open the letter is a natural barrier and there will be some people who don’t.  It could end up on the microwave or stored with an old stack of letters on their desk.  By the time they get round to opening it the offer might have expired.

Open mail pieces make an impact as soon as they hit the door mat.  As the recipient picks it up they are forced to look at it and make a decision whether they bin it or put it on the fridge.

The other factor you need to consider is the data you are sending the offer to.  It might be your best customers or it might be lapsed customers from 5 years ago or it could be data you downloaded from a dodgy site on the internet.  The great example is when insurance companies try to sell a new quote.  If the insurance company does not have the renewal date of the recipients, they are going to have a 1/12 chance of contacting the prospect at the right time!