This may well be one of the worst urban myths ever propagated.
Why? Because there is a hint of truth to it.
Yes, there are some Direct Mail campaigns, usually directed to individual consumers, that promote an event, a retail coupon or a low cost product and that can be called a success even at a 1% response.
That being said, in our experience . . .
Settling for a 2% response to a well-conceived and executed Direct Mail campaign is unnecessary.
In fact, settling for a 2% response could well be damaging to the enterprise.
Could your company or organization grow and thrive if you could receive qualified leads at a cost of $25 or less? If a Direct Mail campaign could be launched for $1 (or less) per unit of mail, and you received a response of 4% or greater — that would be a success!
($10,000 budget = 10,000 units of mail. 4% response yields 400 leads. $10,000 for 400 leads = $25/lead.)
From our perspective, out of several hundred campaigns over four decades, we rarely experienced less than 5% response to mailings we designed or participated in. In fact, we rarely experienced any campaigns that didn’t return double-digit response, and frequently response exceeded 20%.
The reason for our success – and, in fact for any professional Direct Marketing professional — is because we focus first on the list, striving to target only the most productive ones. For more in-depth coverage of the nature and selection of mailing lists, request The Marketing Machine® Report, “Lists – The Inside Track to Direct Marketing Success.”
Second, by clearly understanding the psychographic, ergraphic and demographic profiles attributed to the target audiences represented by the lists, we develop Offers (Value Propositions) that are likely to appeal to a significant number of people on these lists.
Then – and ONLY then – do we embark on the creative phase, developing copy and artwork most likely to convey the appeal of the offer to the selected audiences.
And finally, where the circumstances warrant it, we develop a test matrix to validate offers and lists in particular to determine the best route forward.
In conclusion, let me make it absolutely clear. There is no standard percentage of response to Direct Mail or any other Direct Response media. Actual response levels will be determined by careful planning and execution according to well-established principles of Direct Marketing.