Direct Mail Statistics That Will Have You Running to the Post Office

Direct Mail Statistics That Will Have You Running to the Post Office
ByIvana V.
July 07,2021

Social media, email, search engine optimization, print advertising, trade shows, conferences... There are so many marketing channels nowadays that business owners often overlook a tried-and-tested marketing method that still yields results. Direct mail marketing might seem like a thing of the past, but we have a list of direct mail statistics that will convince you otherwise.

For example, would you have guested that 4 in ten Americans of all ages look forward to checking their mailbox? Not only do we look forward to receiving a piece of mail but we tend to hold on to it for a long time. In an average household, mail is thrown out after 17 days. This gives plenty of opportunities for direct mail to get read or at least skimmed through. Considering how clutter digital marketing channels are, direct mail definitely deserves a place in your marketing campaign.

  • 42.2% of direct mail recipients either read or scan the mail they get.
  • Direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than email.
  • Direct mail recipients purchase 28% more items and spend 28% more money than people who don’t get that same piece of direct mail.
  • Direct mail offers a 29% return on investment.
  • 73% of American consumers say they prefer being contacted by brands via direct mail because they can read it whenever they want.

General Direct Mail Marketing Statistics

41% of Americans of all ages look forward to checking their mail each day.


There’s just something exhilarating about opening that little mailbox to find an item you can hold, with your name written on it. And though older generations are more likely to say they enjoy getting mail, 36% of Americans under 30 also feel this way.

58% of the mail American households receive is marketing mail.

(United States Postal Service)

Very few people exchange letters in the digital era. According to the latest data from the USPS Mail Use & Attitudes Report, the direct mail industry accounts for almost 60% of the mail US households receive. This stat really reinforces the previous one. If people mostly get marketing mail and are still looking forward to it, that’s great news for mail marketers.

The average American household receives 454 pieces of marketing mail per year.

(United States Postal Service)

Is direct mail dead? Absolutely not. The same USPS report shows that direct mail advertising is alive and kicking. The organization’s data shows that 454 pieces of regular marketing mail get delivered to an average US household every year. On top of that, 92 pieces of nonprofit marketing mail land in the average mailbox as well.

Direct mail had an average response rate of 9% for house lists and 4.9% for prospect lists in 2018.

(Data & Marketing Association)

The 2018 DMA Response Rate Report brings news of amazing average direct mail response rates. The household list response rate was 9% in 2018, significantly up from 2017, when it was 5.1%. The prospect list response rate was 4.9%, also showing a big increase compared to the 2.9% it achieved the year before.

What’s contributing to this spike in numbers? In a word, technology. Thanks to technological advancements, mail marketers are gathering more data about consumer behavior. They’re sending out direct mail to people who actually look forward to it, which is why they’re getting much better direct mail response rates.

Oversized envelopes have the highest response rate: 5%.

(Data & Marketing Association)

If you are looking for direct mail ideas, you should know that packaging matters. Some mail formats outperform others. Postcards get a fairly high response rate - 4.25% - followed by dimensional mailers with 4% and catalogs with 3.9%. The average response rate for direct mail in letter-sized envelopes is the lowest at only 3.5%.

59% of US respondents say they enjoy getting mail from brands about new products.


Consumers can run a Google search and discover new products from their favorite brands. But when they get a glossy catalog through the post it makes them feel appreciated by the brand. As many as six in 10 Americans say they enjoy learning about new products this way according to Epsilon’s direct mail advertising statistics.

18% of B2B marketers’ budget is assigned to direct mail marketing and print advertising.


B2B marketers still send printed ads and catalogs to existing clients and leads years after diversifying their marketing channels. Social media and content marketing are contemporary ways of reaching out to clients but they haven’t managed to push direct mail lists out of the picture. Why? Because direct mail still delivers good results. More on that in the following section.

Direct Mail Effectiveness

42.2% of direct mail recipients either read or scan the mail they get.

(Data & Marketing Association)

When you send a marketing message, you obviously want people to see it. Email might be cheaper, but it’s easily ignored. Direct mail will, on the other hand, get read, or at least scanned by your target audience. The Data & Marketing Association, formerly known as the Direct Mail Marketing Association, reveals that 42.2% of direct mail recipients go through the material you send. Only 22.8% say they don’t read it at all.

Advertising mail is kept in a household for 17 days on average.


If you were wondering why direct mail works, here’s your answer. Direct mail stats show that people tend to throw out advertising mail after 17 days. This gives all members of the household plenty of time to review it and take action.

60% of catalog recipients visit the website of the company that mailed them the catalog.

(United States Postal Service)

Consumers are very likely to visit a website after discovering a product in a catalog. Modern shoppers turn to the internet for further product information, but what produces the spark that makes them visit a website? In many cases it’s flipping through a good old catalog, according to direct mail statistics published by the US Postal Service.

44.4% of merchants upped catalog circulation last year.


Retailers understand that catalogs boost website traffic in addition to raising brand awareness and increasing conversion rates. That’s why almost half of them increased the number of catalogs they sent out last year.

Direct mail recipients purchased 28% more items and spent 28% more money than people who didn’t get that piece of direct mail.

(United States Postal Service)

By keeping a piece of direct mail in a household for days on end, consumers are constantly reminded of the product you are advertising. This makes them more prone to visit your website or brick-and-mortar business and make a purchase. With a direct mail conversion rate of 28%, this marketing method is definitely worth a shot.

73% of American consumers say they prefer being contacted by brands via direct mail because they can read it whenever they want.


Leads love to be nurtured. Consumers like having a relationship with their favorite brands, but not based on the brand’s marketing schedule. For example, they hate it when they’re browsing the web and all of a sudden an ad appears. They want to be able to learn what’s new with the brand they support at their own convenience. Epsilon’s direct mail marketing statistics show that the majority of US consumers prefer direct mail as a method of communication with their favorite brands because they can review it when they see fit.

Direct mail offers a 29% return on investment.

(Marketing Charts)

The US Postal Service implemented new, slightly higher postage rates in January 2019. Even with the current postal rates, direct mail marketing provides a strong return on marketing investment. In fact, it matches the ROI of social media marketing efforts. Direct mail stats published by Marketing Charts show that direct mail brings a 29% ROI while social media has a 30% ROI.

50.9% of recipients say they find postcards useful.

(Data & Marketing Association)

Their small size makes them stand out in a mailbox, and the fact they don’t come in an envelope means virtually all postcards get read. Combine this with DMA’s stat that half of consumers find postcards useful and you’ll understand why postcard marketing is arguably the most effective direct mail method available.

Consumers aged 45-54 are the demographic group most likely to respond to direct mail pieces.

(Data & Marketing Association)

The key to any successful marketing campaign is knowing who to target and where. Just as you wouldn’t advertise a steak restaurant using a vegetarian restaurant’s mailing list, you also need to know which demographic group responds to which marketing method. Individuals aged 45-54 have the highest direct mail response rate: 14.1%. This makes them a much better target audience than members of Generation Z, who are more reachable via social media platforms like Snapchat.

Direct Mail vs Email

Up to 90% of direct mail gets opened, compared to only 20-30% of emails.

(Data & Marketing Association)

Many modern business owners looking to promote their company in 2021 ask themselves: Does direct mail still work? Is this a sound marketing investment? Should I focus only on digital marketing? Judging by direct mail open rates, it’s a marketing method worthy of your attention. Sending and receiving hundreds of emails each day, it’s easier for consumers to ignore promotional mail sent online. Postal mail, on the contrary, is opened nine out of 10 times.

Only 44% of people can recall a brand immediately after seeing a digital ad compared to 75% of people who receive direct mail.

(Marketing Profs)

In addition to higher open rates, direct mail also leaves a better impression on consumers. According to Marketing Profs’ direct mail statistics, three-quarters of consumers are able to recall a brand after receiving a piece of direct mail. On the other hand, just 44% can do the same after seeing a digital ad.

Direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than email.

(Canada Post)

This is yet another perk of direct mail. It’s much easier for consumers to understand than email, contributing to the longer-lasting brand recall associated with direct mail. The absence of additional content makes it simpler to process than email. When people read an ad sent via email, they can often get distracted by other open tabs or pop-up ads. But when they read direct mail they can focus solely on that task.

Email’s cost per cost-per-acquisition is $22.52, significantly less than direct mail cost-per-acquisition, which amounts to $43.90.

(Data & Marketing Association)

Direct mail stats from 2018 confirm that email beats direct mail in the cost-per-acquisition battle. It’s almost twice as expensive to get a new client relying on direct mail than on email.

57% of email addresses are abandoned because the users receives too many marketing emails.

(Marketing Profs)

Getting through to customers via email can prove challenging. When consumers start receiving too many unwanted emails they simply abandon that email address and create a new one. It costs them nothing and it makes a lot of dead leads for marketers. Direct mailing lists, however, are more reliable. After all, people don’t move house because their mailbox is overflowing.

When asked, “Which is more effective at getting you to take action?” 30% of millennials said direct mail, while 24% said email.


Millennials spend their days glued to their phones. And while it would be easier to visit a website after seeing an email, they report that postal mail inspires them to take action more often than email. DMN’s direct mail marketing statistics indicate that 30% of millennials consider postal mail effective in getting them to visit a website, go to a store, or make a purchase. Only 24% said the same of email.

The response rate for direct mail is up to nine times higher than that of email.

(Data & Marketing Association)

When we compare response rates of email and direct mail, direct mail wins by a long shot. With an average direct mail response rate between 5% and 9% (depending on the recipient), direct mail leaves email far behind. According to the latest DMA Response Rate Report, email garnered a 1% response rate in 2018 for both household and prospect lists.

Direct Mail Still Reigns

If you thought direct mail was dead, we are sure that by now your opinion has changed. This form of marketing is alive and well. Keep in mind, however, that direct mail trends dictate that you’ll get better results if you pair direct mail with technology.

Clever marketers have come up with ways to combine this tried-and-tested way of advertising with smart tech and their results are amazing. You too can use QR codes in the mail you send to lead consumers to your website. You’ll see - you will reap the rewards in no time.

We hope that our list of direct mail statistics has conveyed the message that this advertising technique raises brand awareness, helps with nurturing customer relations, and boosts sales. If you hear someone ask does direct mail work, you’ll have an answer for them.

Frequently Asked Questions
What is direct mail marketing?

Direct mail marketing is a marketing technique that entails sending unsolicited promotional mail to your existing clients and a list of prospects. This technique is effective because it goes through a less cluttered channel compared to digital marketing.

How does direct mail marketing work?

To run a direct mail campaign first and foremost you need to research your audience. Think about who you want to send your ads to. Who are the people who will respond best to your product or service? Let’s face it – you won’t get great results if you advertise your gynecology office to men.

Once you’ve established your target audience, you need to get a hold of people’s mailing addresses. There’s the option of buying direct mailing lists from marketing agencies, or you could create your own in-house list. This takes some time but is very effective in the long run.

The next step is designing your ad. You can go with a simple message and take care of the design yourself. Or you can pay a professional to do this for you. After that, it’s off to the printer. Again, you can opt for the DIY approach if your design solution isn’t overly complicated.

And the last step is going to USPS with your direct mail and sending it.

What is a good response rate for direct mail?

This depends on how well you’ve planned your direct mail marketing strategy. Let’s say you are set on raising brand awareness and are sending your mail ads to a list of prospects based on their geographical location. A good response rate for such a mail marketing campaign would be 2%.

This might sound low. But after all, you’re reaching out to complete strangers who have possibly never heard of you and might not need your product. That 2% response rate can be considered solid in this scenario.

On the other hand, well-targeted direct mail can have several times better response rates – up to 9%. As you build your business and your in-house list of contacts, you’ll see better response rates, too.

How do you calculate direct mail response rate?

To calculate the response rate for direct mail you need to divide the number of responses with the number of pieces of mail you sent. For example, if you sent out 1,000 postcards and 40 people respond by visiting your store or your website, then your response rate is 4%.

What is the average conversion rate for direct mail?

The conversion rate is the number of people who become customers after a marketing campaign. Let’s take the same example of the direct mail promotion in which you send out 1,000 postcards and inspire 40 consumers to come to your store. Normally, only half end up buying something. In other words, the average conversion rate for direct mail is half of the response rate.

What is the ROI on direct mail?

Direct mail ROI is on par with digital marketing channels. It even beats some by a landslide. According to Marketing Profs, direct mail has a 29% return on investment, while social media and online display have 30% and 16% respectively.

About author

Ivana is a staff writer at SmallBizGenius. Her interests during office hours include writing about small businesses, start-ups, and retail. When the weekend comes, you can find her hiking in nature, hanging off of a cliff or dancing salsa.

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