Direct Mail

How to Track Direct Mail: Tracking & Analytics

By 24 November 2021April 15th, 2024No Comments
track direct mails in transit

How to Track Direct Mail: Tracking & Analytics

Direct mail campaigns are an integral part of well-established businesses because of their reliability to reach the target audience. When implemented right, direct mail has the potential to enhance the reach of your campaign, communicate with your target audience, and effectively drive sales. Even in this digital age, the relevance of direct mail is significant because of its high reliability.

track direct mails in transit

Today most marketing efforts are based on the digital medium because of its practically limitless capabilities. With a digital mail campaign, you can reach thousands or even millions of audiences with a few clicks of a button, and the automated process almost never fails. Digital campaigns are also cheaper to implement than traditional direct mail campaigns.

At this point, you are probably wondering why we would still use direct mail campaigns despite having such a powerful alternative. Well, for starters, despite having to spend money on postage and other expenses, direct mails still have a much higher ROI than many digital efforts. Furthermore, it’s been observed that direct mail works wonders when combined with digital marketing strategies.

But, perhaps what’s most convincing about direct mails is that, unlike its digital counterpart, it is seldom ignored by the receiver. For example, suppose your business sends out emails to your target audience as part of your marketing effort. Now, if you access the analytic data of this effort, you’ll notice that many people may not even have bothered to open it.

Sometimes, the reason behind unopened emails may be that the user does not use the email id anymore, or maybe they are just flooded with many such mails (not necessarily from the same business). Whereas direct mails are almost never ignored or at least not like the email, because it’s just instinctive of us to open our posts as it may be important.

From the details mentioned above, it is not hard to comprehend why direct mails are an integral part of businesses even today. However, to run an effective direct mail campaign, you need to have an accurate tracking and analytic capability for them. This article discusses how to track direct mail, how to get accurate direct mail analytics, and how you can effectively use them to your advantage.

Why is Direct Mail Tracking and Analytics Important for Your Business?

It is relatively easy to determine to figure out whether your company’s direct mail campaigns are a success or not. All you have to do is observe if there is an increase in sales or leads. But, if you are serious about the company’s direct mail campaigns you want to get the optimal results from your direct mail efforts, then you’ll need to dive into the details. Smart marketers take the time to understand their direct mail campaigns in depth by setting up tracking methods. This systematic approach enables them to measure the performance of their direct mail campaigns efficiently.

Furthermore, tracking your direct mail campaigns and obtaining analytic data enables you to find an accurate ROI (Return on Investment) of your campaign. There are several ways to track your direct mail campaigns, and below, we discuss the various options available to you and how each one is different from one another. The methods allow you to determine success metrics, keep records of your campaign and its results, and also enable you to compare its performance against the desired performance.

Direct Mail Tracking Methods

The quintessential rule when it comes to setting up tracking for direct mail campaigns is to ensure that any point of contact listed on your direct mail is both trackable and unique. This point of contact could be anything, including phone number, website URL, coupon code, etc., as long as it is unique and trackable. The “unique and trackable” is especially important here because, without it, you will be left with no way of attributing the sales/leads to the campaign. You can choose any one or more of the tracking methods listed below to trace the sales/leads back to your direct mail campaign.

Trackable Phone Number

Call tracking is one of the most popular as well easy methods for measuring the response rate of your direct mail campaign. When using this method for direct mail tracking, you need to ensure that each mail piece you send out has a unique number. There are mainly three ways of tracking phone calls.

One way to track the calls is to set up a dedicated toll-free number and have the calls to that number automatically forwarded to your business line. This way, you can track the number of calls that come through the toll-free number and determine an accurate response rate.

Another way you can track the calls is by subscribing to the service from a reliable call-tracking software company. Many businesses prefer this option because the service providers often give you the capability to playback the received calls along with a detailed report and analytics data.

The simplest way you can track the calls is by using your regular business line, as all it requires is an open phone line. However, this does mean that you need to keep the line open specifically for the direct mail campaign and assign staff to keep track of the coupon redemption and their unique direct mail piece.

Trackable URLs

You can keep track of your direct mail campaigns by including a URL specifically created for the campaign in each of your direct mail pieces. The campaign-specific URL will lead the user to a custom landing page of your business website. There are a lot of upsides to using URLs for direct mail tracking, such as being able to use your website’s analytics tools. You can use the analytics tools you already have to find out the number of people who visited the custom landing page.

Furthermore, you can even use Google Campaign URL builder for creating the custom page URL because they are easily traceable through your analytic account. You can even go so far as to set up a personalized URL or PURL like “” for each person you send the direct mail. The URL would then lead them to a landing page that has been personalized for them.

The simplest way to build PURLs for direct mail tracking is through a reliable marketing automation company. However, when it comes to direct mails, the better option is to pick a service like PostGrid that can automate the entire process and also help you set up personalized URLs and track your direct mail campaign. Furthermore, you also get advanced analytic data with this service.

Coupon Codes

Coupon codes have always been an effective tool in marketing campaigns and can be dated back to the late 1800s when Coca-Cola first introduced it to the mainstream market. Even today, coupon codes are a big part of businesses. The fact that coupon codes can be unique for each customer makes it an ideal metric to be used for direct mail tracking.

You can include coupon codes in the direct mails you send to your customers. It is best if you allow the coupon to be redeemed anywhere, including your store, your website, and even over the phone if possible. However, you should ensure that your staff asks for the code every time they take an order over the phone.

One of the cool things about coupon codes is that they can be used to track the usage individually or for measuring the effectiveness of direct mail campaigns between interest groups. Although coupon codes are not as effective as PURL or QR code, it still provides you with the ability to track the response rates. Furthermore, coupon codes can be tracked across different channels of your business, including web and retail stores.

QR Codes

The QR codes are perhaps the most popular choice for direct mail campaign tracking today, thanks to their ease of use and overall convenience to the user. It is without question the most direct and fastest way to access your business website. Therefore, it is an easy window for the users to access the offer they receive through your direct mail.

QR codes for direct mails enable businesses to collect broad or specific data. Using a QR code, you can send the users to a unique URL. The QR code is also used to simply collect page impressions by keeping track of who all have scanned the QR code, and this can apply across all market segments. Furthermore, you can use the QR code to bring the users to a landing page on your own website and then use its analytics features to assess or measure the response rate of the campaign.

How to Track Direct Mail With The Help of KPIs

You can not accurately evaluate the success of your direct mail campaign without identifying specific goals you want to achieve through the campaign. The goal of your campaign may change from time to time and industry to industry. A majority of the direct mail campaigns are to boost sales or discover new business leads, and other times they are just meant to raise awareness among the target audience.

Ultimately the goals you have for the direct mail campaign will help you decide on the Key Performance Indicators or KPIs you must focus on. As the name suggests, Key Performance Indicators or KPIs are metrics that will shed light on how effective your direct mail campaign is in reaching the goals you have set for it.

You can use numerous metrics to measure the success of your direct mail campaigns, but it’s not necessary that all of them are relevant or useful depending on your specific goals for the campaign. In fact, if you consider the wrong metric for the given goal, there is a good chance that it can provide you with misleading information. Below we discuss some of the best KPIs for finding the effectiveness of your direct mail campaign.

Response Rate

Response rate is usually the most relevant KPI as far as direct mail campaigns are concerned. It gives you the percentage of the target audience to whom you have sent the direct mail to who have responded to your mailer. The response from the target audience is obtained through any of the tracking methods that we have already discussed above.

The average response rate of direct mail campaigns is 9% for house lists and 5% for prospect lists as per the data released by the Direct Marketing Association. That being said, if you are selling something that is expensive or complicated, then getting a response rate of one percent or less is nothing to be alarmed about either.

It is also essential that you understand that if you do not track every method of contact in your target audience, you will never have an accurate response rate. Once you have the necessary data, calculating the response rate is pretty straightforward, all you have to do is divide the number of responses by the number of direct mails sent.

Response Rate = No: of Responses / No: of Mail Pieces Sent

Conversion Rate

The conversion rate is also called the order rate. The conversion rate gives the percentage of the target audience of the direct mail campaign, which made the desired action as intended by the mailer. If yours is a business that sells lower value impulse products such as clothing and accessories, they need not bother themselves with this metric because the response and conversion happen almost simultaneously.

However, when it comes to businesses with longer sales cycles, such as marketing for law offices, you must be more careful as their conversion rate is what matters more than the response rate. Calculating the conversion rate is also pretty easy. All you have to do is divide the number of orders by the number of responses, and you will have the conversion in your hands.

Conversion Rate = Number of Orders / Number of Responses.

Cost per Acquisition (CPA)

Cost per Acquisition or CPA is also known as cost per order/lead. The CPA tells you how much it costs you to obtain each new customer. The CPA of the direct mail campaign is often compared with the CPA of the other marketing efforts so that the business can choose the strategy that is more efficient and cost-effective for them.

CPA = Campaign Cost / Number of Orders

Average Order Size

Average Order Size signifies the average amount of revenue you earn for each sale you make through the direct mail campaign. It’s worth noting that the average order size can be determined even before sending out your direct mail campaign simply by delicately observing the already received orders.

But, if you do not have this data, you can always calculate it using the relevant data from your direct mail campaign. It is possible that you will find some differences between the average order size obtained via direct mail leads and a walk-in or web lead.

Avg. Order Size = Revenue / Number of Orders

Revenue per Order

The revenue per order can be obtained by subtracting the CPA from the average order size, which shows you the profit you can make from every order on average.

Revenue per Order = Avg. Order Size – CPA

Return on Investment (ROI)

Return on Investment or ROI is a term that all businesses are well-familiar with, and it is perhaps the most useful KPI out there. The ROI can easily and effectively convey the success rate of all your campaigns, including direct mail campaigns.

ROI = (Revenue – Campaign Cost) / Campaign Cost

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

The Customer Lifetime Value or CLV is unlike the other metrics listed above because CLV is not instant feedback, and it will give you a comprehensive idea of using direct mail campaigns so far. A good CLV is necessary for the sustainable growth of your business, and it can get quite complicated to calculate. Essentially it signifies your relationship with the customer, and it can be positively influenced through loyalty programs and other rewards.


Direct mail campaigns can be an effective tool to boost your sales, create awareness and generate leads, but it can only be sustainable to your business if it is tracked and analyzed for optimization. By employing a tracking method, you will be able to measure the effectiveness of your direct mail marketing effort.

Furthermore, you will also need to figure out the ideal KPI for evaluating your direct mail campaigns. Although this may sound complicated, this tracking and analysis of your direct mail campaign are necessary to have them optimized.

You can even make use of advanced address verification tools like PostGrid, which can not only provide superior tracking and analytics capability but streamline the entire direct mail process, including printing and sending them out with an advanced automated system. Once you have mastered how to track direct mail campaigns, you can optimize them to generate the maximum leads/sales for your campaigns.

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