How to track direct mail response rate and learn from the results

A reliable tracking system

Some marketers hesitate about getting involved in a direct mail campaign, afraid of the inability to track direct mail response rate or properly attribute leads and sales to a specific ad. It’s a perfectly understandable fear, but how can we fix it? What you need is a reliable tracking system that can easily count responses.

However, tracking doesn’t mean just counting. Tracking is about understanding every element of the mailing you just sent out, so you can improve everything you do for future mailings. That’s the only way to get consistently better results as you build a business.

First of all, it’s important to set a clear goal of mailing. This way when you’ll  track the records against your goal you’ll know for sure if your marketing efforts have met your expectations:

  • How many leads do you want to generate?
  • What customer retention rate do you expect?
  • How many orders do you want to have?

How can you track a direct mail campaign, so you can learn more about your audience’s response and improve your future mailings?

Track the mail delivery

The mail monitoring service tracks from mail drop to actual in-home delivery. It is used to show you if your mailing was delivered and when it arrived at the person’s home. This service is recorded through the USPS for a minimal fee.

With other services, Informed Delivery  you can opt-in to receive email notifications about the expected delivery. Intelligent Mail Barcode Tracing (IMb Tracing®) Application gives real-time tracking data as incoming (when your mail pieces reached their destinations) and outgoing mail pieces (checks, replies, orders, returned mailers) scanned through the mail system.

To set up this tracking service you must place an IMb Barcode on each mail piece, or random mail pieces, that looks like another barcode above the address area. When the mailer is received the barcode is read and a report is sent back to a web address that you can access to see where your direct mail pieces are within the postal system.


Track direct mail response rate

Why tracking mail delivery?

The advantage of a delivery tracking system is gaining visibility of drop-mails. This way you’ll know for sure if the mail pieces were sent on time. If you want to turn your prospects into hot leads you should follow up with a phone call, soon after your mail-out has been sent.

Let’s say your results are: mailed 178 boxes of which, 151 accurately delivered and 27 returned to sender.

Deliverability: 84%

Returned to Sender: 15%

What you can optimize further to gain greater efficiency and achieve better results?

  • Cut waste of money on shipping, prior to mailing, by verifying the mailing list accuracy.
  • Pay extra for the tracking codes so you can know exactly when to call or email the recipients.
  • Run your mailing list through CASS Certification software – and use standardized addresses with fixed street and city misspellings, confirmed carrier route, checked zip codes, appended ZIP+4 codes as necessary, and an accurate delivery point barcode.


How to track direct mail response rate


Besides your mailing deliverability that is so important for your shipping budget, let’s see if the profitability of the mailing itself covers the costs.

Tracking the profitability

Marketing Key Performance Indicator (KPI) such as response rate – the percentage of targets who responded to your mail – help you determine how successful your direct mail campaign was.

Responses / Pieces Sent = Response Rate

Read also How to track and measure your direct mail ROI?

First, the format of your collaterals should dictate the response method. Either you encourage your prospects to respond via offline channels, by phone, or via your digital channels, such as submission forms or QR codes, track the responses accordingly. As a result, you’ll be able to gauge your response rate accurately.

Second, any point of contact listed on your direct mail piece – phone number, URL, coupon code should be unique and trackable.

Here are some cheap and affordable methods to track your response rate:

  • Printed Coupons: counting the number of redeemed coupons is an excellent way to track the action rate.
  • Discount Codes: track and count each sale for which were used discount codes.
  • The number of incoming calls on the dedicated phone line or unique toll-free 800-numbers that automatically forwards to your business line.
  • Unique pageviews on your Google Analytics for personalized landing pages and QR codes.
  • The number of subscribers collected by submission forms.


Direct mail response rate benchmarks


If you want to benchmark your performance, find out how other companies track their mail. According to the DMA’s 2017 Response Rate Report:

  • 61% of companies are tracking online with the use of PURLs and landing pages.
  • 53% of companies track phone calls.
  • 42% of companies use coupons or codes.

Overall, the response rate of direct mail has been reduced over the past years. According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) in 2017 direct mail received a 5.1% response rate for house lists and 2.9% for prospect lists.

Learned lessons

  • Make sure to use exclusive coupons and promo codes for each direct mail campaign. Otherwise, you won’t know how to attribute each sale.
  • Phone calls are the best way for your prospects to know that you are real and you are there for them if they have questions, so call them shortly after the mail was delivered.
  • Send repeated and subsequent mailing for a better response rate. For a direct mail campaign to be truly successful and effective it takes at least three subsequent mailings to the same prospect list.
  • With direct mailing, you have to be patient. Depending on what kind of offer you sent, it takes from a few days to a month for the result to roll in.
  • A personalized landing page can easily elevate a lower response rate of 5% into an average of more than 20%.
  • When using a combination of digital and physical marketing, the customers feel more personally engaged in the advertising and they spend as much more due to the combined effort.
  • A submission form on your landing page will allow you to further the conversation and get in touch digitally with your target audience. Insert a simple contact form that encourages your prospects to put questions and ask for samples or pricing.
  • Using effective tracking methods helps you determine which among two or more direct mailers sent outperformed the best.

Testing and tracking will allow you to gradually refine your direct mailing knowledge and skills and grow your business. For help creating a direct mail campaign with impact, contact AccurateAZ today.

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