How to Measure the Success of a Direct Mail Campaign

At Tribune Direct, we get this question all the time, “what kind of response should I expect from my direct mail campaign?”

As marketers, it’s a tough answer to give. Every direct mail program is different. You have a variety of factors that are impacting success and ROI such as industry/vertical, targeting, offering, timeliness, and other marketing that may also be at play during a campaign cycle (i.e. digital, mass media, email). With so many moving pieces, marketers have been a bit gun shy to provide concrete answers.

Giving large response ranges and broad generalizations have long been the norm in our industry and yes, we get the frustration. You have dollars and conversions to account for. The difference between a 0.25% and a 2% response is massive for you. How can you pinpoint expectations if we can’t?

In its most simple form, you can break down the elements that cause this wide swing pretty easily:

A direct mail campaign with a perpetual need offer (i.e. grocery, household goods, clothing) versus a time of need offer (travel, hospitality, large household purchase), will certainly garner a much higher response than its lesser acted upon campaigns. Layering in targeted demographics, behavioral profiling, a house list, strong offer, and key format elements also can cause swing. Knowing that, how we can we help you measure success and set accurate expectations for what your mail can do?

Measuring direct mail results:

Apples to Apples – ensure that when discussing success metrics, response expectations and percentages, that you’re comparing your project to another project within the same vertical. Ask your DM expert specific questions that correlate to a mailing of your type:

  • What are known success metrics for retailers of my size/type mailing this format?
  • Did they mail to a house list or an acquisition list?
  • How rich was their offer?
  • Was there a sense of urgency/expiry tied to the program?
  • Did they do anything additional to enhance response?  

Measure Using Order Rate and Response – often marketers will focus on one or other. How many leads were generated is undeniably a key metric to focus on, as is the order rate and how many dollars are being generated in that conversion. If you’re not independently tracking this, work with a partner that is able to monitor your DM program efficacy in a real time environment on the back-end for optimal tracking, analysis and ongoing campaign measurement. This helps you maximize on the response data to refine and better optimize your next mailing.   

There is No Silver Bullet – ultimately, you want to know if your campaign helped support your business, build revenue growth and secure new customers, right? Keep in mind a newly launched direct mail campaign rarely makes money. The best successes in direct mail are seen over time, leveraging analysis, customer profiling, branding, and repetitive messaging to a targeted audience. A continued, steady (i.e. drip) approach will see more growth over time, where ‘one shot’ or seasonal campaigns rely too heavily on a once is enough mentality. Hitting your customers once with no planned follow up won’t be effective.  

Lifetime Value – the Lone Ranger of very measurable metrics! It’s important to keep LTV in mind over the long-term measuring of your campaign’s success. Once your direct mail program has run its course, there is still tracking to be done. Over time, these newly acquired customers will continue to buy again and again, establishing a deep relationship with your brand. By tracking this information, their spend and purchase frequency, you’re able to determine the value of this customer over a lifetime.

  • Keep in mind that is 5-10 times costlier to get a new customer than to retain an existing one.

Therefore, additional focus and future ‘trigger’ campaigns should be on growing business by retaining existing customers that bring in real value. Tracking customers that have yielded a high LTV can then be attributed back as success to your original acquisition campaign.

Get started or learn more

What is the next step? We’d love to talk. Call 1-800-545-9657 to speak with a direct marketing consultant today.

If you’re not there yet, let’s stay in touch. Please join our mailing list and stay update to date on all things direct marketing related!


Related Posts

Get In Touch

Have a question or just want to get in touch with a real Tribune Direct client services person? Give us a chance to delight you — simply provide your info below.

Thank you. We've received your request.

A Tribune Direct marketing consultant will be in touch shortly. In the meantime, here's a link that might help:

Check Out Our Idea Lab

Read Our Case Studies