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

ByIvana V.
March 09,2022

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 four 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.

Fascinating Direct Mail Statistics - Editor’s Choice:

  • 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

As we live in a digital age, people are tired of email marketing practices. Most such emails end up unread or are marked as spam. The same can’t be said for direct mail marketing, as these statistics clearly show. 

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

(Gallup)

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.

(Epsilon)

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.

(HubSpot)

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.

Looking to give direct mail marketing a try? Fill out the short quiz below:

 

Direct Mail Effectiveness

It may sound surprising, but direct mail is more effective than email. While an email marketing campaign is more affordable, it underperforms significantly compared to direct mail when it comes to the results.

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.

(Mailmen)

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. This isn’t surprising as 84% of catalog recipients find it easier to browse and shop online while using it.

A study shows a 49% increase in sales and 125% in inquiries from customers who received both emails and catalogs.

(HBR)

This is a significant bump compared with the group that received only email marketing material, with a 28% and 77% increase in sales and inquiries. Such results show that catalogs are still a relevant marketing strategy, particularly if supported by other digital channels. Furthermore, over 90% of customers browsed their catalogs and kept them around for a week or so on average.

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.

(Epsilon)

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.

Regarding response rate, direct mail offers a 112% return on investment.

(Data & Marketing Association)

Direct mail as an analog medium still delivers the best response from customers. It’s closely followed by SMS with 102% and email at 93%, which is, as expected, the option most used by marketers. Social media saw an upwards trend in use at 74%, a 17% increase compared to the previous survey.

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

You are likely to pay twice as much for direct mail than an email marketing campaign. If that seems too much for you, here are some statistics that will change your mind and make you consider reaching out to your leads via direct mail despite the higher costs.

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 2022 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.

(DMN)

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.

90% of millennials believe that direct mail marketing is more reliable than email and 24% are likely to share it with other people.

(USPS, Valassis)

Research also shows that 64% of millennials prefer to receive advertisements through the mail, and 68% always read them. Even though email marketing is more convenient and we are spending more time on our mobile phones than ever, direct mail marketing is still more effective at making an impact with your target audience.

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 DMA Response Rate Report, email garners only around a 1% response rate 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.

Sources

About the 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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This is followed by art and collectibles, which accounted for 21%, jewelry with 15%, and clothing with an 11% share.  The least popular group of products were pet supplies, electronics & accessories, and shoes, which accounted for only 1% of sellers each.  In 2020, Etsy was the eighth largest retail website in terms of online traffic. (Statista) The big dog among eCommerce websites, Amazon.com, had almost 3.68 billion visitors per month in 2020 followed by eBay.com with 1.01 billion visits on average each month. eBay, Rakuten, and Samsung also scored highly on the list.  With a monthly traffic average of 289.33 million visits, Etsy statistics had even top sellers jealous, contributing greatly to the platform’s huge revenue increase during that year. In 2020, Etsy generated $1.7 billion in total revenue. (Statista) The revenue of the online marketplace amounted to $1.7 billion in 2020, which represents a surge of more than 100 percent compared to the year before. Etsy had a market capitalization of $7.46 billion in 2019, just seven years after its official launch. According to industry experts, marketplace revenues (including sales listing and transaction fees), third-party payment processor fees, and seller service revenues are the company's main revenue streams.  Etsy’s annual net income in 2021 reached $493 million. (Statista) Looking at the Etsy sales statistics for 2021, there was a massive increase over the $349 million it made in 2020, which itself dwarfed 2019’s $95.89 million. The company is clearly doing something right, and at this rate, the future of eCommerce on the platform is looking very bright. Top sellers on Etsy earn $10,000 per year or more. (The Verge) Amid the many stories from Etsy's sellers regarding their earnings, the conclusion is that the most successful merchants earn $10,000 or more on the platform. Etsy shop statistics vary wildly between the various categories on the site, though. According to some top sellers, they get charged a flat 12% advertising fee that they cannot opt out of. This fee is 15% for other sellers, but that charge is optional.
By Danica Djokic · April 19,2022
Call centers are an inescapable element of running almost every customer-centric business. Regardless of whether you are offering a product or a service or using a call center to market them, you need to provide a line of communication with your customers.  Not all support and call centers actually require a phone line. Call center statistics show that the industry has moved online to a large degree, and many other trends are emerging as companies strive to provide a better customer experience.  Let’s see some of the most important stats about the call center industry in 2022. Call Center Industry Statistics - Key Findings The global market value of call centers is estimated to reach $496 billion by 2027. 87% of employees in call centers report high-stress levels at their job. The contact center software market will be worth $149.58 billion by 2030. Businesses lose approximately $75 billion yearly because of poor customer service. 35% of customers want customer support agents to help them resolve issues in one interaction. General Call Center Operation Statistics Call centers are an essential industry nowadays, especially as many people turn to customer support. After all, the world has made a significant shift toward performing most of its daily life online. So let's check some of the most important stats about this industry. The global market value of call centers is estimated to reach $496 billion by 2027. (Report Linker) Research suggests that the industry's value will keep increasing at a projected CAGR rate of 5.6% between 2020 and 2027. In-house call center solutions have a 5.5% projected growth rate during the same period, while outsourcing will grow by 5.9%. In 2020, US call centers accounted for 29.49% of the global call center market. (Report Linker) The overall global market was valued at $339.4 billion in 2020, with the US share at approximately $100.1 billion in 2020. Other notable markets worldwide were China, Japan, Canada, and Germany, all with strong growth estimates.  Almost a quarter of all call centers in the US made less than $250 million in 2020. (Statista) 24%, to be precise. 13% earned more than $25 billion. 4% made between $15 and $25 billion, while 19% earned anywhere from $5 to $15 billion, and another 19% made between $1 and $5 billion. The contact center software market will be worth $149.58 billion by 2030. (Grand View Research, Inc) According to call center statistics for software, the industry's market size is $28.09 billion in 2022, up from $23.9 billion in 2021. If it continues following the estimated CAGR of 23.2% between 2022 and 2030, it should reach a staggering $149.58 billion by 2030. In 2020, US call center businesses employed 2.83 million people. (Statista) The number of employees in the call center businesses grew steadily from 2014 when 2.51 million people worked in this industry. This trend changed in 2020, though, which saw a drop in the number of employees in the contact center industry compared to 2019’s 2.92 million. Businesses lose approximately $75 billion yearly because of poor customer service. (Forbes)  Based on research in NewVoiceMedia’s 2018 “Serial Switchers” report, Forbes announced in 2018 that many customers were abandoning companies due to poor customer service. Recent research conducted by Salesforce shows that 91% of customers will make another purchase at the same company after a good customer service experience.  In comparison, 70% said they would not buy a product from a company with long wait hours for customer support. If your company is struggling with similar issues, consider investing in call tracking software. Call Center Stats on Customer Satisfaction  Customer support is an essential part of providing a quality service, and companies need to pay close attention to customer satisfaction in this area. The following stats tell us more about customer preferences regarding call centers and support. 77% of customers appreciate proactive customer service. (Zippia) On top of wanting instant support, customers also expect customer representatives and sales reps to anticipate their needs and address them accordingly. Companies that can do that are much more popular with customers. 76% of customers prefer using different support channels depending on context. (Salesforce) According to the call center analysis by Salesforce, email is still the most popular customer support channel, followed by phone and in-person support. Online chat and mobile apps take fourth and fifth place, respectively. 78% of customers don’t like support agents that sound like they are reading from a script. (Zippia) Personalized sales and support communication has been the key for a while now. 52% of customers expect custom-tailored offers at all times, and 66% want the companies “to understand their unique needs and expectations.”  This is no small feat, especially for the largest call center companies serving thousands of customers. Ensuring your company uses good call center software is only half the battle. You’ll still need quality support agents who can convince your customers that their needs are important to your company. 50% of customers believe that the customer service and support from most companies need a major overhaul. (Salesforce) While half of the customers expect better customer support, 60% agree that companies need to improve their trustworthiness, and 55% think companies should work more on their environmental practices. Statistics show that companies focusing on “making the world a better place” always do well. Surprisingly, improving the product was ranked lower, as was using better technology and working on the overall business model. 35% of customers want customer support agents to help them resolve issues in one interaction. (Microsoft’s 2020 Report) Quick problem resolution should be one of the most important call center metrics. Over a third of customers in a Microsoft survey from 2019 said that resolving issues in one interaction should be a priority for the customer support team. 31% claimed that getting a knowledgeable agent is the most important, and 20% said that not having to repeat the same information is crucial. The latter seems like a growing problem, as more than half of customers felt that the departments providing support are not always in sync.  These are definitely the key call center metrics that every company should pay attention to. 92% of consumers hesitate when buying a product if it has no customer reviews. (Fan & Fuel) Worse still, 35% might not buy a product at all after reading just one negative review. According to Zendesk, word of mouth is also extremely powerful: 95% of customers will tell others about a bad experience, and 87% will share good ones.  Unfortunately, another survey shows that 79% of consumers who shared their poor online experience with customer support got ignored. Companies making this mistake should consider hiring a good reputation management service, as it will help improve their sales in the long run. Must-Know Information About Call Center Workers Despite the push toward automatization, live agents are still the pillars of any good customer support team. Here are some stats about the call center workforce. There were approximately 286,696 call center agents employed in the US in 2021. (Zippia) The majority of call centers are located in Texas, or more specifically in Dallas and Houston. The average age of a call center employee is 40 years. Furthermore, 67.2% of all agents are women, while 27.9% are men. 87% of employees in call centers report high stress levels at their job. (Cornell University) Handling customer requests every day is not an easy job. Customer support agents are typically the first line of defense against angry customers, leading to very alarming call center stress statistics. 80% of agents experience angry customers blaming them for things out of their control.  Undefined expectations, lack of incentives, and boredom with mundane, repetitive tasks cause agents to be miserable at work, which, in return, translates into poorer customer experience stats across the board. The average salary of a call center employee is $27,765 per year. (Zippia) Salaries for new agents start at around $20,000 per annum. Those of the 10% top-performing agents can go up to $36,000 or more. The turnover rate for call center agents is over 40% globally. (ICMI) (Mercer) When these call center turnover statistics are compared to the 22% average turnover rate across all industries in the US, it’s easy to see that job satisfaction levels in call centers are troublingly low. Companies need to look into ways of making the job less stressful for their employees and using modern technologies such as AI bots to help facilitate communication with customers. Call Center Technology Trends Good implementation of modern technologies is essential for improving call center statistics and metrics. Let’s check how big of a role software plays in customer support these days.   90% of businesses that use it find live chat software helpful for streamlining call center operations.  (Zippia) According to Zippia’s findings published in December 2021, 29% of all businesses and 61% of those in the B2B sector already use live chat software. 32% of businesses are implementing CRM systems to boost sales and enhance customer relationships. (Zippia) Customer Relationship Management software has an excellent track record of increasing customer engagement. Unfortunately, according to customer service and call center metrics, only a third of businesses make use of it currently. Considering that 31% of customer support teams think that their companies see their work as an expense rather than an opportunity to increase sales, this is not all that surprising. 87% of global organizations that implemented AI did so believing it would give them an advantage over the competition. (Statista) According to Statista, almost 90% of the organizations that implemented AI did so to keep up with the competition, while only 63% did so due to customer demand. Pressure to reduce costs was also a major factor (72%), along with the ability to move into new business spheres (78%). In 2020, 37% of all messages to brand social media accounts were related to customer service issues. (Sprout Social) (Statista) However, most messages (59%) were positive, as customers wished to express their happiness with an excellent experience they’ve had with the brand.  Call center statistics show that in 2020, 75% more customers used  Instagram to message businesses, while Facebook saw a 20% growth in this category. If you are considering implementing social media into customer support options, keep in mind that 18% of customers expect an immediate response; it might be worth investing in social media management tools to help your support team out.
By Vladana Donevski · April 11,2022

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Joseph LeVesque
8 months ago
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Ivana, this is excellent research. And, I am a college Professor who, at age 70, has seen a thing or two. Nice work, my friend.