Businesses worldwide have turned to digital marketing in recent decades, and that’s a trend we can expect to go on for many years to come. However, offline or traditional marketing methods aren’t entirely obsolete, far from it.
Direct mail marketing involves postcards, letters, brochures, and other forms of mail that market a product, service, or brand directly to a person’s household. This kind of marketing is making a resurgence.
The following direct mail marketing statistics can prove that direct mail isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Although it’s sometimes hard to believe, direct, tangible mail will stay alive for much longer despite digital marketing advancements. Read on to learn why.
Top Direct Mail Marketing Stats: Editor’s Choice
- The open rates for direct mail reach up to 90%.
- 73% of US consumers said they prefer direct mail for brand communication.
- 70% of consumers say direct mail is more personal than digital interactions.
- 75% of millennials say receiving direct mail makes them feel special.
- 56% of people find printed marketing the most trustworthy of all marketing channels.
- The median direct mail ROI is 29%.
- Marketers spend 11% of their budget on direct marketing and print advertising.
- Direct mail postage rates have increased by 1.5% for marketing mail.
Direct Mail Marketing Statistics: How Consumers Treat Direct Mail
How relevant is direct mail still to the potential buyers? Figures show that, although marketing has been digitalized in a major way, consumers still appreciate receiving offers in their mailboxes—especially if it’s personalized.
1. 77% of consumers sort through their physical mail as soon as they receive it.
Print marketing statistics showed that 77% of consumers start sorting through their physical mail the moment they receive it. This stat reveals how beneficial direct mail marketing can be for businesses.
Focusing on direct mail increases the chances that consumers will open and read their mail. Moreover, businesses are more likely to reach consumers at the right point in a buyers’ journey via direct mail.
2. The direct mail open rates reach up to 90%.
This figure makes it superior to any other form of reaching out to your target audience—emails have a 20–30% open rate, for example.
It’s interesting that 58% of all direct mail Americans receive is marketing mail.
3. Postcards are the most popular formats for direct mail marketing.
According to direct mail advertising statistics, postcards and letters are the most popular formats for direct mail marketing campaigns at 53% and 52%, respectively. Dimensional mail formats, such as boxes or tubes, which 42% of respondents use, come next.
That said, even if postcards take the top place in popularity, they are not necessarily the best means to represent a brand.
4. 23.4% of consumers respond to postcards if the offer is relevant.
DMA response rate report shows around 23.4% of consumers respond to postcards they received via direct mail if they see a relevant offer or find the offer attractive. That’s higher than the 7.9% response rate for letter-sized envelopes.
Studies also reveal that 52.5% of consumers say they’ll read a postcard, while less than one-third say they will open a letter-sized envelope. Other direct mail marketing examples include brochures and catalogs.
5. 69% of consumers report a good response rate when direct mail is part of the marketing campaign.
According to direct mail marketing statistics relevant in 2021, when marketers include direct mail in the mix of channels for their campaign, 69% of respondents report a “good” to “very good” response rate. When direct mail is not part of the mix, that number falls to 63%.
Meanwhile, the positive response rate increases to 85% when there’s a higher direct mail integration level. A higher level of direct mail personalization leads to an 83% positive response rate, statistics show.
6. 73% of US consumers said they prefer direct mail for brand communication.
Around 73% of US consumers said they prefer direct mail when brands communicate with them. This is because they can read it whenever it’s convenient for them. The rate is 67% among Canadian consumers.
Additional direct mail facts: 62% of Americans also said they enjoy checking their mailbox for postal mail, while 63% of Canadians said they enjoy the same.
7. 39% of consumers say they try a product for the first time because of direct mail.
Numbers show 39% of customers try a business or product for the first time because of the advertising they receive through direct mail. Formats often include envelopes, postcards, brochures, catalogs, and packages.
According to the customer experience statistics, 44% of customers visit a brand’s website after receiving a direct mail ad. That’s around four in ten people visiting a website because of, say, a simple postcard campaign. Furthermore, according to direct mail marketing industry trends, 48% of customers save the direct mail they receive for future reference.
8. Consumers are 46% more likely to respond if the offer comes from a familiar company.
Consumers are 46% more likely to respond to an offer if it comes from a brand or company they have heard of before.
Direct mail proves to be the perfect starting point for marketers trying to get their brand out there. Eventually, they can improve the direct mail return rate with better brand familiarity.
9. 70% of consumers say direct mail is more personal than digital interactions.
Most consumers feel that direct mail is more personal than online interactions. For marketers, this means direct mail campaigns could help add a personal touch to their brands’ marketing strategies.
To further reinforce this, it helps to remember that 54% of consumers say they want to receive direct mail from brands they are already interested in, so that’s a point not to be overlooked when crafting your direct mail marketing strategy.
Direct Mail Demographics to Consider When Advertising
Direct mail can be a costly step in the marketing strategy, so it’s important to determine your target audience smartly. How eager are newer generations to receive offers in their mailboxes? Let’s find out.
10. 75% of millennials believe direct mail is valuable.
Around 75% of millennials say they believe the direct mail they receive is valuable. What’s even better, direct mail marketing statistics say 92% of them admit their purchasing decisions are influenced by the direct mail they receive. That’s a lot higher than the 78% recorded for email.
These numbers go against the common belief that millennials, and even younger generations, are strongly tied to digital media. They prove that effective targeted direct mail advertising can have excellent results.
11. 33% of millennials have an active newspaper or magazine subscription.
Around 33% of millennials have an active subscription to a newspaper or magazine. This stat proves that, while this is a generation of digital natives, the internet is not the only medium they consume.
Moreover, when they are online, millennials do not always respond to digital marketing efforts. According to direct mail industry trends, only 19% of millennials open marketing emails frequently.
12. 75% of millennials say receiving direct mail makes them feel special.
Although millennials have been born and raised in a digital media-dominated world, a whopping 75% of them still say they feel special when receiving direct mail.
For marketers, this could mean that omnichannel approaches to improve consumer experience may be the way to capture more interest from this demographic. For example, mentioning social media in direct mail copies may help brands bridge the gap between print and digital campaigns.
13. 60% of UK consumers say direct mail helps them remember a brand.
Direct mail advertising statistics suggest that around 60% of UK consumers say they can remember brands better through effective direct mail campaigns.
The survey showed that direct mail activates brain areas responsible for long-term memory encoding. The activation effect is also more robust and has a longer-lasting effect than other media, which helps consumers remember more easily.
14. 89% of financial and insurance services industry professionals use direct mail.
There is a clear disparity in direct mail response rates by industry in 2020. Financial and insurance direct mail marketing is used at 89%, based on a survey by the Data & Marketing Association.
Meanwhile, nonprofit usage ranks second at 75%, while publishing or media ranks third at 73%. Direct marketing usage rates 68% among banks, just ahead of health and pharmaceuticals, at 65%. B2B services recorded 58% usage, while retail reported 56% usage.
15. Nonprofit direct mail response rates are between 5–9%.
While the rates vary from sector to sector, and state to state, one thing is for sure—combining direct mail with digital marketing strategies is the best path towards more responses.
In fact, incorporating both methods has proved to shift response rates up to 28%.
16. ROI in direct mail marketing for attorneys is between 25% and 200%.
Studies suggest that attorneys and law firms can get an ROI of between 25% and 200% when they use direct mail marketing in their marketing and ad strategies. In other words, direct mail for attorneys can range between marginally profitable or extremely profitable.
However, an ROI of more than 200% is rare since the competition is tight, and, if a law firm consistently gets more than 200% ROI, competitors often underbid on price as they move into the market, pushing down ROI.
17. 90.9% of merchants use catalogs as a primary marketing tool.
According to direct mail industry trends, a whopping 90.9% of merchants still use catalogs as a primary marketing tool.
Around 44.4% report their catalogs’ circulation grew in the past year. As for catalog recipients, 42% say they read the catalogs they receive while another 25% say they glance through or save the catalogs for later.
A previous study showed that 41% of millennials and 53% of Gen Xers reported enjoyment of catalogs. New tech also offers insight into their buyers’ journey, giving marketers more flexibility for market segmentation and targeting.
Direct Mail vs Email Statistics
It’s clear that emails are an effective way of reaching wider audiences, in times when 59% of the global population is using the internet. So, how does direct mail compare?
18. 56% of Americans look forward to checking their mailboxes every day.
Despite the convenience of email and social media, direct mail statistics show that 56% of Americans still consider opening their mailboxes every day a real joy.
Apart from bills and unwelcome junk mail, more than half of Americans equate receiving mail to opening a gift.
19. Printed marketing material is 43% less annoying than online marketing to Americans.
According to direct mail marketing statistics, print is 43% less annoying than emails or the internet. Although digital marketing and email campaigns have grown, direct mail marketing has also been making a comeback
The digital marketing space is becoming noisier with the more challenging competition, while print is experiencing a renaissance. Customers appreciate getting a postcard, catalogs, or personal thank you notes in their mailboxes.
20. 56% of people find printed marketing the most trustworthy of all marketing channels.
According to direct mail research, 56% of people look at printed marketing as the most trustworthy marketing channel. Also, 4.6% of all mail sent is likely to receive a response, which dwarfs the 0.12% response rate for emails. Besides, direct mail gets 10% more customers than email.
Marketers are integrating this human tendency in their marketing strategies. For example, direct mail marketing for real estate agents has proved to be very useful as it’s highly scalable, thus suited for direct mail marketing real estate campaigns.
21. Direct mail statistics imply the average person receives only around two pieces of mail daily.
Every day, a person receives about two pieces of mail on average. Compare that to the overwhelming number of emails that people and businesses send every day: 269 million emails.
This means consumers have less mail to sort through. As a result, they are more likely to read your direct mail, giving it more of their attention. Your direct mail will then have better chances of the recipient noticing your offer and taking advantage of it. This chain of events ultimately increases your direct mail success rate.
22. Direct mail’s motivation score is 20% higher than emails, meaning it’s more persuasive than digital media.
Direct mail marketing appears to be more persuasive than digital media. According to a neurolinguistic study, direct mail’s motivation score is 20% higher than digital channels.
Direct mail’s motivation score further increases when more sensory features, such as sounds or scent, are added to the letter or package.
The Real Score: B2B Direct Mail Marketing Statistics and Other Figures
How much has the pandemic changed the way people consume direct mail? Some figures from earlier years show that marketing was turning significantly more digital even before COVID-19.
23. In 2019, the USPS sent 75.7 billion marketing mail pieces.
The USPS (US Postal Services) statistics show a recorded 75.7 billion in marketing mail volume in 2019. However, 2018 recorded a higher figure: 77.3 billion in marketing mail pieces. Still, direct mail remains one of the best channels to reach target audiences.
This comes as the digital marketing space becomes more crowded and a lot more expensive. More marketers are looking at more traditional channels, such as direct mail marketing. USPS keeps tabs on statistics related to such marketing campaigns.
24. The median direct mail ROI is 29%.
According to a recent study, the median return-on-investment rate of direct mail is 29%. Although this rate is lower than email ROI (124%), the return on direct mail is better than or equal to popular digital channels such as social media (30%), paid search (24%), and online display (16%).
In other words, the amount spent on direct mail marketing costs is easily gained back. A 2013 survey showed that for every $167 that businesses spent on direct mail, they got a return of $2,095 worth of products and services.
25. Direct Mail B2B response rates increase a staggering 135% when marketers add a name to direct mail.
According to a 2017 study, adding a name to direct mail bolsters response rates to 135%. That’s more than twice the average response rate for direct mail.
Taking time to add a name to your direct mail adds another layer of personalization. It helps you create direct mail messages that feel more personal to specific consumer segments, making the mail more engaging.
26. The average B2B direct mail response rates for prospect lists are 4.9% and 9% for house lists.
In 2018, the average direct mail response rates for business-to-business campaigns reached 4.9% for prospect lists and 9% for house lists. Prospect lists are potential customers who are likely to need to use your services. House lists are those that have already bought or ordered from you.
For comparison, email, social media, and paid search only have a 1% response rate. This further encourages more investments from B2B marketers.
27. Marketers spend 11% of their budget on direct marketing and print advertising.
The top areas of marketing spend are website development (51%) and digital marketing (44%). Reports conclude that the disparity is due to the pandemic, with digital advertising being the easiest way to get buyers’ attention.
Similarly, direct mail accounts for only 5% of total leads in marketing over the last year.
28. Nearly 80% of businesses providing direct mail marketing services expect direct mail volumes to grow 4% to 5%.
Around 80% of direct mail providers expect direct mail volumes to increase annually at 4% to 5%, although these figures have historically been overly optimistic. Data also support this expectation: Winterberry Group and DMA data show that US direct mail spending and volume have increased over the last couple of years.
However, these optimistic projections also come with some caveats: some other surveys show direct mail marketing is still losing ground to electronic alternatives (email, social medial, mobile marketing, etc.)
29. Direct mail postage rates have increased by 1.5% for marketing mail.
First-Class Mail rates have grown even more—1.8%. As of January 2021, most of the mail rates have increased. This decision has been made as a part of the Postal Service’s attempt to recover from some of the financial issues that have been amplified by the pandemic.
30. Mail plus digital campaigns produce 28% higher conversion rates and 450% in response rates.
When marketers use direct mail combined with other digital advertising campaigns, they produce 28% higher conversion rates.
Studies also show that campaigns that use a mix of direct mail and digital ads get a response rate that’s 118% higher than the direct mail conversion rate alone. Also, adding direct mail in the mix of other campaign channels boosts response rates by a mind-blowing 450%.
Direct Mail Marketing Statistics: The Takeaway
With the resurgence and evident effectiveness of direct mail, it’s safe to say that direct mail isn’t going anywhere.
The digital space may offer more options and convenience to consumers, but direct mail’s appeal and integrity remain solid. Even younger generations seem to embrace it.
For marketers, this means more opportunities to adopt better strategies and techniques. We can expect more direct mail in the future, with consumers and marketers alike benefitting from it.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does direct mail advertising cost?
According to Postalytics, the average direct mail cost per piece is between $0.50 and $3.00.
Furthermore, direct mail costs take into account several factors that include:
- Direct mail design costs
- Copywriting costs
- Postage rates
- Format selection
Still, the cost of a direct mail campaign is offset by the ROI it brings. A 2013 survey showed that for every $167 that businesses spend on direct mail, they get a return of $2095 worth of products and services.
Even though US mail volumes reached their highest in 2008, direct mail marketing is coming back in the marketing world. Its effectiveness offsets the overall direct mail marketing cost.
What is the response rate for direct mail?
The average rate is 9% for house lists and 4.9% for prospect lists. These are the highest average direct response rates since 2003.
These figures show that direct mail scored higher response rates in 2020 than any other channel. Email, social media, and paid search average around 1%. Online displays get only 0.03%.
However, these numbers serve only as direct mail response rate benchmarks. Good response rates for your campaigns could be higher or lower than these averages. Generally, the response rate you expect should depend on your business and your marketing goals.
How much does direct mailing cost?
Direct mailing costs anywhere between 30 cents to more than $10 per person. Of course, the final price depends on how much you want to spend on design, marketing copy, mailing lists, printing, and distribution.
Design costs are usually around $100, while mailing lists cost around 30 cents per record. Marketing copies cost around $100, while printing is often between 3 cents to $2 per person.
Many organizations do many of these in-house rather than outsourcing the steps to outside workers. They often end up paying for printing and mailing only.
As already mentioned, the costs of direct mail campaigns are small compared to the higher direct mail success rate and its ROI.
What is the best day to send direct mail?
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are optimum days for delivery. Recipients are already well into the working week, going home at night. They will highly likely enjoy receiving direct mail in nice packages.
Fridays and Saturdays are not good days, as they are days when people start winding down to weekend mode.
Sunday is often the worst day to receive direct mail. That’s not only because people dislike receiving mail on this day, but also because it’s more expensive to send direct mail on Sundays.
How do I increase my direct mail response rate?
You can improve your direct mail response rate in several ways. Here are some of them:
- Use unique size, color, and packaging that align with your branding if you want to stand out in your recipient’s mailbox.
- Highlight the solutions you provide rather than the features of the product. Follow the adage: “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.”
- Use postcards and catalogs, as they are among the most popular formats for various demographics, especially millennials.
- Include samples and keepables as part of personalization; consumers love personalization, and statistics on targeted direct mail advertising prove that.
How effective is direct mail marketing?
Direct mail marketing effectiveness is relatively high. Recent studies show that direct mail campaigns get purchases five times larger than email campaigns.
Even though direct mail and email marketing campaigns often generate similar response rates, the combination of email and direct mail brings the best results: combining direct mail with other campaign channels increases response rates by an impressive 450%.
Campaigns’ effectiveness further increases because they are more trustworthy in consumers’ eyes: direct mail marketing statistics indicate 56% of people look at printed marketing as the most trustworthy marketing channel.
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