How Are Your Direct Mail Response Rates?

There are so many marketing channel options now it can be hard to decide where you should invest to get the most bang for your buck. According to the DMA’s 2017 “Response Rate Report,” direct mail continues to provide the best response rate. The cost per acquisition rate is higher than other channels, but it is worth it.

direct mail
Creative Commons license. | Credit: Pixabay by Alexas_Fotos

There are so many marketing channel options now it can be hard to decide where you should invest to get the most bang for your buck. According to the DMA’s 2017 “Response Rate Report,” direct mail continues to provide the best response rate. The cost per acquisition rate is higher than other channels, but it is worth it.

Keep in mind that the best marketing is done through multiple channels, so make sure you are able to track each channel’s results. Use the ones that work best for you.

Almost all business types currently use direct mail and benefit from it. So, let’s get into the details the DMA found in its report of what they are doing that is working.

  • Postcards — A house file had a 5.7 percent response rate with an ROI of 29 percent and prospect file had a 3.4 percent response rate with an ROI of 23 percent.
  • Letter Sized Envelopes — A house file had a 4.37 percent response rate with an ROI of 29 percent and prospect file had a 2.5 percent response rate with an ROI of 23 percent.
  • Flat Sized Envelopes — A house file had a 6.6 percent response rate with an ROI of 37 percent and prospect file had a 4.9 percent response rate with an ROI of 30 percent.

They do not track rates for self-mailers or booklets, I am not sure why. The two most common uses for direct mail are direct sale and lead generation, and no matter the use, a flat size envelope wins. So how are companies tracking their direct mail results?

  1. Online 61 percent of companies are tracking online with the use of PURLs, landing pages and more.
  2. Phone  53 percent of companies track phone calls to either a call center or designated location.
  3. Code or Coupon  42 percent of companies use coupons or codes to track.

They also use, at much smaller rates, matchback, linked sales transactions, list coding and others. There is no right or wrong way to track, do what works best for you. The most important thing is that you are tracking your results.

Now, are you curious about volumes of mail? Based on monthly volume, companies are doing the following:

  • 50,000 or less = 39 percent for a house list and 36 percent for a prospect list
  • 50,001- 150,000 = 21 percent for a house list and 15 percent for a prospect list
  • 150,001 – 250,000 = 16 percent for a house list and 12 percent for a prospect list

Finally, let’s look at cost per format:

  • Letter: $22.55 for a house list and $39.75 for a prospect list
  • Postcard: $14.60 for a house list and $29.70 for a prospect list
  • Flat: $29.30 for a house list and $31.90 for a prospect list

As you can see from these numbers, direct mail can really be a benefit to your marketing. If you have done direct mail before but not recently or if you have not used direct mail before, you need to make sure that your final designs meet postal regulations. There is no reason to pay extra postage when you don’t have to. Your mail service provider can help you navigate the regulations and facilitate your direct mail campaigns. Are you ready to get started? Your prospects and customers are waiting to hear from you.

The 6 Best Direct Mail Teasers of 2016

To get a direct mail prospect, customer or donor inside your envelope, the teaser is a crucial factor.

To get a direct mail prospect, customer or donor inside your envelope, the teaser is a crucial factor. How do you make that happen? What headline can you use to get them to act?

A year ago, I reviewed the thousands of direct mail packages received by Who’s Mailing What! Keeping in mind the great work of so many giants of the craft, like Mel Martin and Bill Jayme, I came up with some of the best direct mail teasers used in 2015.

This year, I spent some time looking through even more mail from 2016. I made a list of two dozen or so good ones; here are six, arranged in no particular order.

1. HelloFresh
HelloFresh teaserThis online meal delivery service loves sending colorful direct mail. Here, a large image supports the teaser. “HEALTHIER” appears in larger type than the rest of the copy.

I also like how it includes two qualifiers. When can you cook healthier? “TODAY.” How? “Without leaving home.”

2. Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports teaserThese guys have produced a lot of great direct mail over the years. Sometimes the name of the magazine alone (or a line drawing of its building) on the envelope was enough to get a big response from subscribers.

This latest effort calls attention to the three “bubbles” it bursts right below the headline. As usual, the intention is to show a little taste of how the magazine’s content inside the mail piece defies pre-conceived notions.

3. Farmers Insurance
Farmers Insurance teaserOversized windows allow you to put compelling copy and images in two places at once: the outer, and the inside piece. Farmers has been leveraging its popular TV commercials with J.K. Simmons as “Professor Burke” in its mail for a few years.

This latest campaign uses an image from one of its “Hall of Claims” spots, where some crazy and funny story results in a claim being paid by the company. With this familiar branding and slogan from TV, an agent can generate a lead, and also play on their experience and training.

4. Met Life
Met Life teaserI’m not sure which I like better about the front of this 6”x9” envelope. The giant “$0” is impossible to miss. But the crisp, short statement works so well: “No down payments … Ever.” No wiggle room there. None.

5. Sierra Club
Sierra Club teaserSpeaking of making a point with minimal copy, you can’t get much more concise than “BUZZ KILL” in a distressed typeface. Paired with a photo of a dead bee, it’s a good way to introduce people to the collapse of bee populations due to pesticides. Many of the variations of this fundraising direct mail package include a packet of free seeds for attracting pollinators.

6. Sirius XM
Sirius XM teaser“You served for us. Now it’s our time to serve you,” this teaser says. And inside, the letter is from the company’s VP & GM Operations, John Archer. He also happens to be a Navy Reserve Captain.

He offers an impressive 25% lifetime discount on the service to his fellow veterans. I’d love to see more segmentation like this, mail that explicitly honors our service members.

So, those are some of my top picks. How about you? What teasers rock your world (or your customers), even if they’re a few years old? Please, let’s talk about it in the comments below!

Direct Mail: Creative Envelopes Win

Envelopes have been a part of direct mail for a very, very long time, and many companies still use them the same way they always have. Then, they wonder why their results are stagnating. It is time for something different. Envelopes have changed — there are so many different and exciting things you can do with them now. Let’s look at some ideas.

envelopes winnersEnvelopes have been a part of direct mail for a very, very long time, and many companies still use them the same way they always have. Then, they wonder why their results are stagnating. It is time for something different. Envelopes have changed — there are so many different and exciting things you can do with them now. Let’s look at some ideas.

Enclosure Types

  • Regular Envelopes: There are many different sizes to play with, from small invitation envelopes to large ones. The larger ones stand out more, but if they qualify at the flat size postage level, they will be more expensive for postage. To keep them at a lower postage rate, use envelopes that are not square and are 6.125 x 11.5 inches or smaller.
  • Window Envelopes: You have all the same size choices here as regular envelopes. You also have the same postage concerns. Window envelopes have various options on window placement and the number of windows. Check with your vendor to see some creative windows.
  • Two-Way Envelopes: These are really inventive. They work first for outgoing mail and then by following the instructions on the envelope, they become reply mail envelopes too. This saves on envelope costs and is good for the environment. It is also another way to stand out with your prospects and customers.
  • Wrapping: These envelope wraps are created on equipment with folding and gluing while the inserts are already inside. These are extremely customizable and are very cost effective. You do not have to maintain an envelope inventory. You can create them as needed. The down side is that some people do not like the finished look of the wrap as it is clunky when compared with the normal sleek look of an envelope.
  • Snap Packs: These are the more official looking enclosed pieces. They require your prospects or customers to tear perforated strips off of the side and the bottom of the snap pack in order to open it. Since they are more formal looking they tend to get better open rates. You have probably received checks in this format before.

With the growth of Variable Data Technology, you are now able to do so much more personalization on each of these types of enclosures. You can personalize images, graphics, as well as copy. This is even better than adding a tagline to get people to open the envelope. Compel your customers and prospects to open your envelopes with graphics that speak directly to them.

Get creative on your envelope. Keep in mind that you can customize both sides. Other than the addressing requirements for the USPS you have plenty of room to add eye catching designs. What will speak to your customers and prospects? The best way to identify this is to test various options. See what people respond to most and use various forms of it going forward.

Don’t continue to send drab direct mail. Stand out — build a direct mail campaign beyond your dreams. No matter what type of information you are sending to people, when it is enclosed you should be using the enclosure as a marketing piece. Get your envelope opened, instead of thrown straight in the trash. Visual appeal to stimulate curiosity will get you better open rates. How did your last envelope mailing go? Are you using snazzy envelopes to grab attention?

The 7 Best Direct Mail Teasers of 2015

How do you engage direct mail prospects in your message? It’s a question that’s always in the back of my mind when I analyze mail for Who’s Mailing What! The easiest and hardest place to start with, if you’re mailing with envelopes, is the teaser.

Let’s put aside for the moment the never-ending debate of whether envelopes should even have a teaser. To quote copywriter Lea Pierce, “You have three seconds to live or die” as your mail is being opened.

So what makes a good one? I know, it’s a loaded question.

I compiled a list of about four dozen new teasers that engaged me right off the bat in 2015, especially once I saw that the message inside fulfilled my expectations.

In no specific order, here are seven of the top ten.

1.GEICO
Sure, many insurance companies vow to save you money. GEICO is particularly good at this with much of its mail.

Geico_01But what got me here was mixing type sizes so that the promise really stands out, and pairing it with a QR code that can be scanned to completely bypass the message inside. Or … you know … open the envelope anyway.

2. California College San Diego
This mailer also mentions money (“the income you deserve”) in the teaser as it flatters the recipient.

CCSDThat tactic – tapping into the yearning for a better life – is pretty uncommon for college mail, even when the target audience is working adults. The letter and other components inside reassure the student that they can balance their responsibilities while achieving their goals.

3. Lifelock
It seems like every week brings news stories about financial, employment, or customer records being hacked from a variety of places around the world.

Lifelo_01Lifelock leverages fear of identity theft in this membership effort by using the teaser to noting a healthcare records attack, and then go into more detail about the crimes (and their solution) on a buck slip inside the envelope.

4. Quantum Wellness Botanical Institute
Mention a “big” institution to some people, and you’re sure to get a negative reaction.

Quantu_01To customers of a natural supplements company, “Big Pharma” is part of an establishment that opposes them.The anger that’s present on the outside becomes a sidebar on the brochure inside, which focuses instead on selling curcumin.

5. Hillary for America/Cruz for President
Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz are two pretty different people, but their question is the same.

Politui_01Maybe this will be the eventual matchup in the presidential race. In their letters, the two major party candidates lay out the challenges they each see for America and the stakes in the election as they try to rally support from donors.

6. Amnesty International
For decades, this human rights group has included generic notes in its fundraising appeals to win the release of political prisoners. This campaign is different.

Amnest_01The annual Write for Rights event is a recent development that focuses on specific cases. The black outer and the simple “WRITE A LETTER. CHANGE A LIFE” message are going to members who merely have to fill out one or all of the protest notes and return them with a donation..

7. Ocean Conservancy
I love direct mail that uses fascinations – little interesting factoids – to tease what’s inside. But this clickbait-like teaser is also irresistible.

OceanC_01I’m surprised this digital tactic hasn’t popped up more.  Here, it doesn’t result in disappointment or annoyance. The brochure inside cleverly devotes a page to each ocean fact. It directly directly supports the group’s mission to save ocean habitats and wildlife.

So, for many of these marketers and fundraisers, the mail moment for their envelope has advanced past the three-second mark. But as with everything in direct mail, A/B testing will go a long way in determining a winner.

How about you? What teasers rock your world (or your customers), even if they’re a few years old? Please, let’s talk about it in the comments below!