What Is Direct Mail

Direct mail marketing is basically advertising your products and services through USPS. You can do it through multiple marketing materials, such as postcards, brochures, catalogs, personalized letters, corporate gifts, and other similar mailpieces.

The best-written marketing mails can help your businesses improve your returns enormously. It’s always the best idea to send your mail pieces to the prospects interested in your services or products, rather than the uninterested ones.

Direct mail is the best marketing channel if you wish to target just the decision-makers directly and personally.

customer relationship

Direct Mail vs. Digital Marketing

In 2013, the Direct Mail Association reported 65% of consumers of all ages have bought through direct mails, so if you’re still living by the notion that direct mail is dead—it’s time you change your opinion.

According to a different DMA report, the average response rate of direct mails for the B2B and B2C market is 4.4%; however, the response rate for emails is just 0.12%. Besides that, USPS revealed that every family that earns $150,000 or more annually has responded to direct mails at least two weeks a month. That means the households respond to around 700 direct mails each year.

If you’re still not convinced, then you should know that direct mails – along with designing, printing, and mailing – costs (per head) almost equal to pay per click and way less than telemarketing. Plus, Print on Demand Institute (PODI) has announced that the direct mail’s response rate can be way higher than any other marketing method, especially when you follow up on your digital marketing campaigns with personalized direct mails.

Types of Direct Mail

If you want to increase your direct mail response rate, then understanding the different types of direct mails is very important. When you decide to market your products or services, determine which of the mail forms would be the best for the kind of promotion you are willing to launch.

Here’s a detailed list of different direct mails that you can send your prospects and customers.


If your business runs monthly or yearly subscription services, use transactional mails to inform the customers to renew their subscription or alert the new customers to cancel it.

Transactional direct mails

You can use these mailpieces for notifying customers about new changes in their account details, your company policies, or any other significant security changes. It’s a widespread practice.

Financial Statements

With direct mails, you can send invoices, billing statements, order receipts, and checks so your customers cannot avoid timely payments.

Compliance Notices

It’s a notice that the manufacturers send to their customers as a confirmation letter on the completion of building a customized product. You can also send these with PostGrid.


If you’re hosting an event, sale, or want to get your customers to visit your website or store, you can send them personalized postcards.


If you need to launch the campaigns in any size and any format, try flyers and increase your brand awareness.


With brochures, you can introduce your company or organization to 1m+ highly targeted people.


DMA reports, 91% of businesses use catalogs for marketing. Plus, it’s the easiest way to showcase a number of products under a single cover.

Custom Gifts

Send your customers’ personalized gifts—eventually, increase customer engagement and your brand awareness.


You can also send tangible newsletters to your customers and manage everything, just like an email newsletter. Although, you’ll need an automated system, like PostGrid, in place to do so. Whenever a customer or prospect enters your campaigns, it will automatically drop a newsletter at their door.


If you want to send exciting offers and discounts to your customers, consider sending them coupons.


You can also send menus door to door with our automated services and boost your brand awareness.

Birthday or Anniversary Mails

If you usually send personalized direct mails on special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, then direct mails can be very useful for you. With its tangible form, you can have happy customers and more brand loyalty.

Targeting Your Audience for Maximum Response Rate

direct mail crm integration

No doubt, targeting your right audience is essential for every business. Yet, it’s necessary to say, if you want to save yourself a considerable misspending, then skipping this step could be an unwise decision.

It’s especially true for small businesses and startups. However, it’s not always necessary that if you’re researching your market and audience, then you definitely need to spend big bucks and launch a big project. It’s always prudent to consult a competent research professional, as they know how to deliver your exact audience objective while keeping things within budget.

Here are a few steps that you should include in your marketing to target the right audience.

Conduct the Market Research

Your customers don’t necessarily need to talk to your sales representative before making a purchase at your company. They’re wise, intelligent, and know how to find things that’ll benefit them—mainly through referral and reviews. If you’re willing to conduct the market research on your own, then here are some steps that you should follow:

  • Determine your buyer persona, for example, age, gender, location, job titles, income, family size, and other major challenges they face.
  • Identify groups from your buyer persona to engage with (these groups are formed by the people who recently bought your products or invested in your services).
  • Prepare a questionnaire for the participants of your market research.
  • Make a list of your competitors and their offerings.
  • Summarize your findings and create an action plan based on them.
  • If you’re willing to hire a professional to conduct your market research, then remember, the more open you’ll be about your budget and your needs, the better brief they can provide you. Start by planning your requirements, time, and money you’ll spend on this particular task, and help them understand your business. Furthermore, always use a researcher that you can rely on.
calculate cost for ecommerce direct mails
print and send

Identify the Trends, Psychographics, and Demographics

Knowing your target audience is necessary but not enough. You also need to know where your prospects hang out, their interests, how they like to be contacted, what blogs they read, and other similar trends.

To get all this data, you’ll need to group your audience – that you found in the previous step – according to their demographic details – such as age, gender, and location – and psychographic information – such as their hobbies, interest, income, marital status, and others.

Launch a Survey

Before launching any big campaign, if you decide to conduct a survey, it can help you understand your audience and their needs pretty well. To launch a successful survey, keep a few things in mind:

  • Always keep it short and concise.
  • Ask a few people to take your survey before launching it in front of a large audience, and measure the results.
  • Keep your rating system consistent.
  • Targeting your audience the right and the detailed way can help you get response rates a thousand times better than what you’ll get by shooting your direct mails to a non-qualified audience. Furthermore, it’ll also keep you from misspending.

Direct Mail Response Rate

On PostGrid, we get a lot from our clients, “what exactly is a good direct mail response rate, and how do we calculate it?”

The answer lies in your direct mail marketing objectives, as the response rate is the percentage of the people responding to your direct mails, and the firm, planned, and calculated your objectives will be the better response rate you may expect. To calculate this percentage, all you need to do is divide the number of people who responded to your pieces of mails by the total number of letters you mailed.

For example, if you mailed 10,000 mailpieces and 200 people responded, your response rate is 2%.

calculate cost for ecommerce direct mails

Average Response Rate vs. Good Response Rate

2% is always estimated to be the average response rate. Although, it’s necessary to understand when 2% is okay to consider the good response rate.

If you’re sending direct mails to a ready-made mailing list (the one you bought from a company based on a few demographic details of your prospects) and you’ve no prior relationship with the prospects in the contact list, then 2% is a good response rate.

Besides that, if you’re sending free offers to your mailing list, and getting a 2% rate of response, again, it’s okay, as most people tend to respond to free offers more than the paid ones.

However, if you’re sending your mails to an in-house list instead of the ready-made one, then you can expect a response rate higher than the average. It’s not guaranteed, but you can expect more as your audience already know you.

Additionally, if you’re offering your audience a paid deal instead of a free offer, then it’s likely that you may get a response rate lower than 1%. And that’s also the main difference between order generation and lead generation. When the payment is involved, you are directly getting the customers; however, when people respond to free offers, they’re the lead generation. Later based on the follow-ups, you can expect them to convert into paying customers.

Target Your Customers for an Astounding Response Rate

Before we get into the details of how to get an astounding response rate, you need to understand what actually is a good quality response rate.

Suppose you get a 2% response rate from campaign 1; however, later on, only 5% of the leads converted into the paying customers, then the net order rate that you got was only 0.1%. On the other hand, if your campaign 2 brought a response rate of only 1%, but 30% of the leads out of it converted into buyers, then your net order response rate was 0.3%.

And hence, the lead quality matters. It’s not always necessary the audience responding to your free offers will actually buy from you in the future. Therefore, you need to take a few extra measures to convert as many prospects as possible, like analyzing your market research, findings, and competition.

bulk mails
life at postgrid

The Analysis

Your market research, surveys, and targeting may go in vain unless you analyze your findings before getting overwhelmed by the data you have collected.

Your market research consists of two types of data; one is quantitative details – ranks, ratings, yes, and no customers’ responses – another one is qualitative details like the direct answers to your questions, as mentioned in surveys and interviews. Now, what you have to do is, compare the results you got with the objectives you set or the results you expected.

Later on, analyze your competitors’ marketing. To do this, sign up for their campaigns, study their headlines, taglines, and other material, find out their follow up techniques, and their reasons for sending those direct mails, and why they’re working out for them.

Try implementing these techniques with your current customers or leads who responded.

The next step would be to calculate and know the returns.

How to Calculate Direct Mail Marketing ROI

Calculating your ROI is a necessary step in your direct mail campaign planning. All you have to do is know a few numbers and details and put them into a formula.

print mail invoice

Here are the details that you need to have:

  • Number of the people in your mailing list or the number of people you’re sending your direct mails to – Audience Size
  • The Total Campaign Cost
  • How much response have you expected to receive – Expected Response Rate
  • How many responders do you expect to convert into paying customer – Conversion Rate
  • The average cost that customers would spend on your product – Average Purchase Cost

Now put these details in the following equation

  • Per Mail Cost = Total Campaign Cost / Audience Size
  • Total Response Number = Campaign Size X Expected Response Rate
  • Total Buyers Number = Number of Responders X Conversion Rate
  • Revenue Generated = Average Purchase Cost X Number of Converted Customers
  • Net Profit = Revenue Generated – Total Campaign Cost
  • Price per Responder = Total Campaign Cost / Total Responders
  • Price per Converted Customer = Total Campaign Cost / Number of Buyers
    ROI = Net Profit Generated / Total Campaign Cost

And that’s how you can calculate the returns on your investment. You would also need to track and analyze your ongoing campaigns for a better future response rate along with this ROI calculation. So, here’s a brief for that.


How to Track Your Direct Mails and Improve Next Campaign's Response Rate

The last thing that the companies should do is not preparing for the responses that’ll start rolling in once their direct mail campaign has launched.

Your team should be prepared to collect the data of responses and sales as well. Some of the best ways to track your direct mails are:

personalized direct mail services
  • Trackable phone calls: Update your direct mails with different trackable phone numbers, so you can find out which of the campaigns is bringing results.
  • Customized URLs: Send your direct mails with easy to spell and trackable URLs on them, and find out which of the campaigns is bringing traffic to your website.
  • Coupon codes: You can send coupons to your prospects; this way, you can get your prospects to visit your store to redeem those coupon codes.
  • QR Codes: This is another easy and better way of sending your customers to your landing page. All you have to do is ask your potential customers to scan the QR code you’ve put on the direct mails.

Once you have this setup, your next step is to record the number of responders and sales. Your team should be ready to receive the calls that start coming in. Note what your prospects are calling for:

  • Is it for more information?
  • Is it to enquire about an offer you mentioned?
  • Is it to make a purchase from you, or anything else?

Ensure your team gets back to the inquiries without any delay.
Depending on the responses you get, your next step would be to follow up accordingly. And at the end, you analyze all of this information to calculate your ROI and your direct mail campaign’s overall performance. It’ll help you improve your future campaigns.

working with postgrid direct mails

Improve Your Direct Mail Response Rate With These Practical Tips

Billions of companies send billions of direct mails, but not every one of them gets read. Hence, you need to make your direct mails stand out the rest, so they can get read. Here are a few practical tips that you can use for your direct mails:

Re-Do the Envelopes

Standard envelopes may reflect their boring personality and may not get read. Plus, if your direct mails have to go through an assistant before they reach your actual prospects, it’s necessary to make them look important or unusual. If you can afford, try sending padded envelopes—they show value.

3-Dimensional Mailers

It’s very unlikely for anyone to throw away a box they found in their mailbox—after all, it evokes curiosity like what can be inside it. This way, your mailer stands out, gets opened, and read. But these mailpieces will also increase your mailing cost for sure.


Now, if you’re sending a piece of mail with “dear prospect” on it, you’re dropping the chances of even your open rate to negligible. After all, nobody likes to be sold. However, if you decide to choose to send your direct mails with their first names on it, or probably in a different font style or handwritten type of font—they’re more likely to stand out in their mailbox and get their attention. If you’re launching a small campaign with only a handful of prospects, you can also sign the letters yourself to stand out, plus you can also add personalized URLs and QR codes.

Unique Material

Printing your direct mail on unique material is another option that you can try to increase your letters’ chances to get read. This technique works like a charm, especially if your direct mails are going to land in the hands of decision-makers. You can try these materials for your letters: wood, plastic, or metal.

Short and Concise

Always make your letters scannable with headlines, subheads, colorful small boxes with text, and other designs. Never try to use big text blocks in your mail pieces—people tend to avoid such things with supersonic speed. And your main motto is to get their attention, get them to read your letters, and have them respond to it.

Benefits Over Feature

As we always say on PostGrid, people never like to be sold. Hence, the best way to describe your products’ or services’ is to mention their benefits instead of features. You should be advertising their wants; they should connect and feel like they really need it.

Get Quick Help for Better Response Rate in Minimum Time


No-doubt, it can be tempting to do it all on your own. But if you’re willing to get a better response rate by investing minimum effort, resources, and time you should go for an automated direct mail solution.

It not only helps you save time and resources, but with the on-time follow ups, tracking, regular notifications and reports, automated responses, campaign analysis, dashboard control, team and users management, design, print, delivery services, ready made mailing list, and sending mails only to the verified addresses to drop the misspendigns significantly.

This way, you will save the time and money that you’ll otherwise invest in hiring teams of designers, running back and forth for the print vendors, delivery services, and others. Plus, you also get to save the extra funds on the direct mails that get lost in the way due to wrong addresses and reach twice or sometimes thrice to the same person. Plus, you can also significantly drop the number of returned direct mails.

On PostGrid, we offer all the services mentioned above, including your direct mails’ security, as all of your data will be PIPEDA, PHIPA HIPAA, GDPR & SOC-2 Certified and Compliant with us.

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