August 21, 2013

The Top 3 Ways to Increase Your B2C Direct Mail Response Rates

direct mailAccording to, the first known form of direct advertising was performed by an Egyptian landowner all the way back in 1000 B.C.  Apparently, the landowner’s slave bounced.  You know...they fled the coop...went AWOL..took a walk and kissed goodbye.  Shawshank, baby! With a missing slave who was probably very valuable, the landowner wasn't giving up easy.  In fact, they went through the hassle of writing an advertisement on a piece of papyrus asking for the return of the long-lost slave. With the meager writing tools they had access to back in those days, this probably took more than a couple hours to create. The finished product probably said something like:

L O S T   S L A V E



While we’re a long ways past the days of papyrus and hieroglyphs, the same core principle of advertising exists when it comes to direct mail response rates, which is, we want a response!

Consider 3 different ways you can boost your average direct mail response rate:

Catch Their Eye and Make Your Point!

To get the response they wanted, the Egyptian landowner needed to get their message across to their audience in a clear and effective manner.  Are you doing the same thing?  According to a USPS Household Diary Study, “78% of households either read or scan advertising mail sent to their household.”  Do you believe your mail piece is catching the eye of 78% your recipients? Is your ad unique enough? Is your message clear?

When it comes to your mail piece, too many words and images can be tacky and act as a deterrent more than anything else. Let your offer stand out, but in the right way. Highlight the product or service you wish to promote. Don’t be vague... but don’t be too detailed. There’s a happy medium that you may need to work a bit to find, but when you find it, you’ll be so happy you did! And, don’t be stubborn. There are some really great graphic designers and mail houses out there who can help you design the best, most eye-catching design based on your offer.

*Don’t forget to include a clear call to action on your mail pieces! Always provide pertinent contact information such as your phone number, website, and email address.

Target Your Audience

Do you have a specific offer that is designed for a specific audience? If so, please do yourself a favor and buy the right mailing list before you do anything else.  Otherwise, your direct mail response rates will be disappointing, at best. Once you have nailed down the most qualified prospects, you can make that specific offer of yours jump off the mail piece with confidence. Here’s an example I use a lot:  If you are selling reverse mortgages, you don’t want to send your mail piece to a random list of residents.  You’ll need to make sure the list meets certain demographic requirements, like Homeowners over the age of 62. Keep it simple and straightforward with a targeted mailing list. Your average direct mail response rates will likely show signs of improvement.

Dust Yourself Off and Try Again

You know the saying, “if at first you don’t succeed... try, try again.”  Direct mail can be a frustrating endeavor at times. It can be expensive and you may not always receive the direct mail response rates you’d expect, even when you are doing everything right.  The key to direct mail is consistency.  Stay in the recipients face often enough and they will likely notice and remember who you are.  If you are still getting to know who your target audience is, you can always make an adjustment to your next marketing list.  Perhaps you need to target a different income range or age range. Be realistic about who can afford your product or services and target those individuals. Be open to change, but don’t be scared of being consistent either.  If everything is exactly how it should be, it could just be a timing thing.  Consider consumer habits such as vacations, holidays, and other seasonal activities that may hinder the effectiveness of your campaign.

Unlike the Egyptian landowner, you have more to offer your customers than a returned camel. Make your message clear and don’t give up.  If you want to talk with someone about improving your direct mail response rates, call 800-383-1381 or visit

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