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Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog, “Direct Mail Leads All Response Rates”


Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "Direct Mail Leads All Response Rates" unleashes data from the 2018 DMA Response Rate Report that dispels the notion that direct mail response rates are non-competitive, and conversely erases the idea that direct mail should remain a marketing afterthought. Direct mail marketing has been a marketing contender over the past few years, and some believe that direct mail does offer a very competitive response rate, while others have stated that direct mail leads among all channels.

Before we dive into this post, we congratulate the Women's Soccer Team USA for an outstanding Soccer World Cup Championship. In addition, we hope all enjoyed a wonderful Independence Holiday. Now onto the article! Many of you may be operating on summer vacation time, so we'll keep it short and to the point. Enjoy the read!

It may surprise you that the DMA response rate findings stagger the imagination. For the sake of brevity, this article is limited in scope as the plethora of direct mail usage is far too extensive to list here. That said, the report does not detail how or what types of direct mail marketing collateral was analyzed, i.e., transactional documents, brochures, packages, postcards, catalogs, kits, books, etcetera.

Another aspect that requires careful review is the tracking data, as direct mail's effectiveness to some degree is dependent upon calls-to-action, where the digital channel may be the primary destination of the direct mail recipient. However, if the site or social media destination is experiencing issues when the recipient attempts to board, then the tracking numbers will be affected. For a deeper dive to understand the tracking and direct mail type usage, visit the 2018 DMA Response Rate Report (membership and fees apply).

The 2018 DMA Response Rate Report

The 2018 DMA report uncovered the following direct mail response rates based on lists, other channels, social media, online display, paid search, and industry sectors.

House lists registered at 9% while prospect lists came in a 5% in 2018. These numbers are impactful when you consider the 2017 report. The 2017 DMA report highlighted house list response rates at 5.1% and prospect lists at 2.9%. Moreover, when looking at eight years of data from 2003 to 2015, house lists average 3.6% and prospect lists average 1.6%.

Compare Email and Online Response Rates

Would you believe that direct mail response rates leapfrogged over all other channels and outperformed the combination of them? That's right; direct mail response rates toppled all of them combined!

Email response rates came in at 1% for both house and prospect lists. Social media, along with paid search response rates, achieved a 1% response rate, respectively, and online ad display came in last at a minuscule 0.30%. However, one aspect to keep in mind is the sample size, that admittedly was on the smaller side.

Nielsen Media Research uses a minimal number of set-top boxes for the entire country (.03%) where television stations broadcast. For example, as of 2006, Nielsen deployed approximately 400+ set-top boxes to extrapolate viewership trends for 8 million television households in the state of Georgia. In other words, it is a tiny number driving the data for a considerable subset. Therefore, it stands to reason that if iconic brands and agencies find Nielsen's television data adequate, then the response rates for other media should be equally competitive.

More Key Response Rate Takeaways

Of the many items that the DMA Response Rate Report measured, there were three that stood out. The size of the direct mail piece, the industries that top the charts for using direct mail, and the most popular methods advertisers use to track results.

It may shock you to learn that letter-sized direct mail outperformed all other channels when it came to lead generation. This tactic delivered a whopping 15.1% response rate. The industries that lead with direct mail usage by percentage include Hospitality and Travel at 80%, Nonprofit at 75%, Media or Publishing at 71%, Financial Services/Banks/Credit firms at 67%, Healthcare at 63%, and surprisingly, only 50% of the insurance sector.


Direct mail response rates are effectively trackable. From landing pages to blog sites, to social media destinations, email marketing, and websites, all of these channels can be tracked within the direct mail collateral.

The DMA report explained the three most popular methods for tracking direct mail response rates were online tracking at 53%, followed by coupon or code at 45%, and lastly, telephone or call centers at 41%.

The Net-Net

Regardless of the sample size, the DMA numbers justify why direct mail marketing is a practical component of any direct mail marketing strategy, particularly since personalization increases customer engagement levels. Thanks for reading "How Direct Mail Leads All Response Rates."

Let's have a conversation about direct mail marketing strategies, printing, transactional documents, variable digital printing, brand equity and unified marketing collateral during our next Open House. We invite you to join us on Thursday, July 25th, 2019, for an hour or two, anytime between 10:30 am to 4:30 pm. Let us show you how to improve your document processes to optimize your workflow, reduce your costs, and maximize your organization's printing, letter shop, and mailing capabilities. Dove Direct has an official USPS certified bureau located within our offices that will save you time and money. Moreover, if you bring us your files, we will create a demo file for you. For more information, call Carla Eubanks at 404-629-0122 or email Carla at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Dove Direct, your Atlanta based print and mail solutions provider offers organizations end-to-end data, printing, and mailing solutions: Data Management, Variable Digital Printing, LetterShop and Fulfillment, Fully Automated MLOCR Presort Bureau, Marketing and Production Management Support and Secure Data Life Cycle Management.

If you don't want to wait for the Open House, you can reach Dove Direct today by calling 404-629-0122 or use the contact form for Dove Direct.

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