Direct Mail Frequency: It Takes More Than One Piece


Direct-mail-frequency-it-takes-more-than-one-piec.jpgWhen we think of direct mail campaigns, we often think of the various ideas we can use to entice potential customers to visit our store, or call us. The creative stuff is exciting, and it’s easy to get caught up in the design and copywriting process.

However, while those things are certainly important and deserve a lot of attention, there are many other factors at play that aren’t as exciting, but are no less critical to success. Frequency and timing are two of those things, and here are a few things you should know.

  • Frequency doesn’t just refer to how often you send a direct mail piece out. It can also refer to how often you send the same piece out.
  • There have been estimates over the years that you will receive up to 50% degradation in the response to a direct mail piece each time you send it out. A more accurate figure would be somewhere between 30 and 50%, depending on the offer and the company sending it, but that figure will tend to drop for each wave of mailing. So while you might see 50% fewer responses the second time around, you might only see a 20% drop the next time around and so on.
  • Even with degradation, however, if you are building a new brand, it’s estimated that you may need to put the same message in front of prospective customers as many as eleven times before they decide to buy from you rather than a competitor.
  • If you send out the same offer relatively frequently, and build brand awareness, followed by a different message (for instance a price drop or sale), you are more likely to trigger a purchasing decision.
  • Keep these repeat pieces simple and cheap to manufacture and mail, so that you can afford to send them to your target prospects fairly regularly, and then follow up with the same basic message, but packaged in a much flashier, well designed mailer, with additional details and information.
  • How often you send direct mail pieces, both repeat mailing of the same piece and different offers, depends largely on your industry, the offer, and the target market. If this is the first time you are sending out a direct mail campaign, then you might have to gauge the success of each wave of mail sent out over time, and adjust the frequency and number of times you send your campaign out accordingly.
  • In some cases, such as catalogs, your business will determine frequency. For instance, companies like IKEA, who run massive direct mail campaigns with their catalogs, tend to send out a new catalog every year, as well as seasonal updates. If your company is seasonal, you would focus your campaigns accordingly, and taper off during your off season.

Simply put, direct mail is a marathon, not a sprint. You will need to send out more than one wave of mailing in order to get the best results, and you will need to continue sending the same and different pieces over time. One piece is rarely enough to capture attention and drive sales, particularly if you’re still an emerging brand.

Speak to a direct mail specialist, and find out what works best for similar companies in your industry and market, and base your campaign on that data to start. You can always make changes over time, as you start gathering more information about responses and conversions.

Direct Mail Best Practices