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35 Direct Mail Statistics for 2018 | Response Rates & ROI Insights

An audience-favorite, here is an updated list of direct marketing statistics that demonstrate the power of direct marketing.

Household response rates for mail have nearly doubled

  1. Direct mail response rate to house files is 9% (compared to 1% email, 1% paid search, .3% online display, 1% social media). This is nearly double the previous household response rate of 5.1%.
  2. Direct mail median return on investment to house files is 41% (compared to 145% email, 50% paid search, 20% online display, 50% social media). Learn how this differs for B2C, B2B, direct sale, and lead generation.
  3. Direct mail median cost-per-acquisition to house files is $43.90 (compared to $22.52 email, $25.87 paid search, $33.29-43.28 online display, and $35.05 social media.
  4. At 11%, oversized envelopes have the greatest response to house files over other mediums (followed by postcards at 12% and letter-sized envelopes at 10%).
  5. At 59%, oversized envelopes have the greatest return on investment to house files over other mediums (followed by postcards at 34% and letter-sized envelopes at 48%).
  6. The top response rate tracking methods are online tracking such as PURLs (53%), code or coupon (45%), and call center or telephone (41%).

The Bottom Line – It’s not direct mail vs. digital. Each medium has its own powers and advantages, and we recommend using direct mail as the activation point for the omnichannel experience because it has the most impact on the customer. Once someone sees a message in their mailbox (or anywhere else) they’re going to be more conscious of it when they see it in other places.

Editor’s Note – These are industry averages based on low sample sizes. This information is to illustrate the overall impact of direct mail compared to other forms of media, and not to calculate the response of your direct mail campaigns. There are a number of other factors to consider; please see a Compu-Mail rep to discuss this further.

Attention Spans are Short and Email Inboxes are Full

  1. The average human attention span is a mere eight seconds – less than that of a goldfish.
  2. Direct mail takes 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital marketing because the audience doesn’t have to invest time or brainpower in understanding mail.
  3. With the average person sending and receiving 124 work emails every day, or 620 emails every week, we’re spending an average of 1.1 minutes on each email.
  4. Overall, 22% of the emails analyzed by Return Path were read (opened, even if all images didn’t load) in 2016. The remainder were deleted immediately, filtered into spam folders, ignored, or never reached their intended recipients.

The Bottom Line – You have only have a couple seconds if you want your emails to be noticed. Make your subject lines count and ensure that you are adhering to CAN-SPAM and GDPR policy and respect when people opt out of your messages. Use direct mail as one of your initial points of contact so they remember you later when they are skimming through their email inbox.

Direct Mail Volume is Down – But That Might Be a Good Thing

  1. The USPS reported that total mail volume has declined by 29.85% since 2006.
  2. In the fiscal year of 2018, 146.4 billion mail pieces were delivered by the United States Postal Service.

The Bottom Line – The overall direct mail volume decline just means less competition in the mailbox. People are more likely to notice direct mail when there is less of it, plus they have more time to spend with each piece.

Direct Mail Usage by Industry

  1. Travel or Hospitality – 80%
  2. Nonprofit – 75%
  3. Publishing or Media – 71%
  4. Financial Services – Banks/Credit – 67%
  5. Healthcare – 63%
  6. Other – 59%
  7. Financial Services – Insurance – 50%
  8. Consumer Packaged Goods – 50%
  9. Technology – 44%
  10. Retail – 44%
  11. B2B Services – 34%

The Bottom Line – Many industries still rely on direct mail to get their message out.

Relevancy and Personalization are Key

  1. Nearly 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences.
  2. 91% are more likely to trust companies with their personal information if they explain how its use will deliver a better experience.
  3. 52% of consumers would share personal data in exchange for product recommendations.
  4. 53% would do the same for personalized shopping experiences.
  5. 78% of consumers will only engage offers if they have been personalized to their previous engagements with the brand.
  6. 22% of shoppers are satisfied with the level of personalization they currently receive.
  7. 8% of survey respondents said that they would be encouraged to engage with a retail brand if they addressed them by their first name.
  8. 7% said they would be likely to engage with a birthday email.

The Bottom Line –  Go beyond name and address, pulling in personalized messaging based on purchase or donation history, motivations, interests, and more. Your customers will notice and appreciate this, even if it’s subconscious recognition.  

But Make Sure You Contact Them on Their Own Terms

  1. 32. 81% of consumers want brands to get to know them and understand when to approach them and when not to.‍

The Bottom Line – Direct mail campaigns give recipients something to hold onto, so they have your information in front of them when they are ready to sit down and read your message.

Other Interesting Stats

  1. Leading-edge technology is lead by mobile payments (27%), programmatic marketing (19%), and Internet of Things (16%).
  2. 53% of marketers surveyed reported the use of three or more mediums in 2018. This number is down from 70% in 2017.
  3. 69% of 18 to 24-year-olds prefer print and paper communications in comparison to reading off screen.

Editor’s Note:

This is a compilation of statistics we have collected from other sources. Please contact the original source with any inquiries regarding the statistics.


1-6, 13-25, 33, 34: ANA | DMA Response Rate Report, 2018

7: Digital Information World

8: Canada Post

9: Radicati and Front

10: Marketing Profs

11-12: Statista

26-27: Salesforce

28: Infosys

29: Segment

30-31: Pure 360

32: Business 2 Community

35: Sappi