How Often Do People Actually Read Direct Mail?

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There’s a widespread belief that most people view direct mail as nothing more than “junk” mail. In some cases, of course, this is true. Campaigns are considered successful when a relatively small percentage of households engage with the mailing, and it’s assumed that many people will simply through it away. But how often do people actually read direct mail? The answer isn’t a simple number. It really depends on a number of key factors.

1. Mailing list

There are a lot of crummy mailing lists floating around, and many failed direct mail campaigns have this to blame. Some of the less reputable direct mail companies out there will try to “wow” clients with huge mailing lists, and promises that their message will reach thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of people. But mailing lists need to be up-to-date. They also need to be fine-tuned in terms of the messaging and target audience, which brings us to our next point.

2. Targeted messaging

One of the biggest myths about direct mail marketing (for those who don’t have much experience with it) is that you simply want to “blast” your message out to as many addresses as possible, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. Anybody with real experience and success in the industry will tell you this isn’t the case. Those campaigns that actually succeed have detailed messaging and strategies. They target the right demographics and the right households to make sure the message is seen by the right people, and generates a good return-on-investment.

3. Timing

The best professionals in this industry know that when is an important question to ask when talking about direct mail. Depending on the time of year, the message, and the type of mailing list you’re dealing with, it’s advantageous to time your mailing in the best way possible. This is almost always going to get you a better result.

4. Quality of the mailing

The design and appearance of the mailing itself is obviously an important element of the project. It’s true that most people spend very little time reading direct mail — a few seconds at most, before a decision is made — and so the design and messaging have to be such that it grabs attention right away, and conveys value to the reader. This is an important point. Too many direct mail campaigns spend far too much time talking and talking about the company behind the mailing — but what people really want to know is, what’s in it for me? People want to know right away what kind of value they can expect from engaging with the deal, promotion, and/or company behind the direct mailing. Knowing how to achieve this is a matter of training and experience.

Better direct mail companies get better results

Those direct mail companies with the strongest reputations, the most experience, and the most training are certainly going to product a better result for your direct mail campaign. Finding the right partner for your mailing project may take a little extra work up front, but it’s definitely worth it in the long run.