Is A Direct Mail Campaign Worth Doing?

A direct mail campaign is the tried and tested, effective way to promote both local and national business. You create a message/offer on paper and post it out to potential customers or existing customers.

For a direct mail campaign to be successful it depends on a number of factors including targeting the right market (or area), having an offer worthy of contact and having the means to measure the response rate.

With direct mail, the two main variables are the people you target (mailing list) and what you are sending (your mailshot). While it may seem like ‘the offer’ is the most important thing, it is the mailing list that is vital to get correct.


The message you are sending out has to match the audience you are contacting otherwise it will be a waste of time. Existing customers are always more likely to repeat buy than prospects (non-customers) so if you want to increase sales short term, mailing out to existing customers will be more successful, depending on your business.

To get new business from a direct mail campaign, you need to identify people with the same profile as your existing customers (for example, this could be an area they live in). You can go blind with your direct mail campaign (mail out to non-customers with no data in the hope that people will be interested) but data to back up your target audience is always advised.

Direct mail campaigns can and should be tailored messages. Segmenting your database to specific buying habits of customers will generally generate interest from customers you contact. For example, you could send out a direct mail to everyone in your database who has booked a specific service with an offer to repeat that service at a later date (or with a time limited offer).

Response Rates

Direct mail can produce a response of between 1% and 6%, but the most common response rate is between 1% and 3%. The higher the response level, the more business you bring in. The aim of your direct mail strategy is to maximise response. By no means will you ever hit the 100% response unless you send out to minimal contacts or an offer that loses money but it’s key to look at the response rate to work out your return on investment (ROI). How much you spend on direct mail can be the key to working out if it was successful or not and lead to decisions about doing a similar campaign in the future.

A good mailshot should include a clear message and a strong call to action. It’s best to offer recipients a variety of ways to respond to ensure it suits everyone, including mail, telephone, email and web address (not everyone wants to ring and a lot of people like to respond via email or online first). You can also add incentives such as prizes, offers or discounts, and this will also help to increase response levels.


While a direct mail campaign does offer a cost-effective way to try out new approaches and new offers you can send different mailshots to small groups to see what response works better and then roll out the ‘winning mailshot’ to a larger audience.

Evaluation is one of the most important aspects of a successful direct mailing campaign. To track responses, you may need to use codes or offers so you can connect the response to a specific mailing. That way you can compare different approaches and different target markets.

July 15, 2018

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