Why Direct Mail Works

Whether you are a seasoned direct marketer or new to direct response, odds are you’ve asked – or been asked – “Is direct mail effective?” “Does direct mail still work?”  The answer is “yes” and “most definitely yes!”

Direct mail growth has been steady over the past few years. It’s also seeing a rise in first-time use among online marketers looking for effective, and targeted ways to reach and engage with new and existing customers. There are many reasons why direct mail is such a powerful marketing channel for many marketers across a variety of industries:

Direct Mail Drives Powerful, Measurable Results

Direct mail’s average acquisition response rate is almost 4 times the response rate for email, paid search and social channels and over ten times the response of display ads. Why else would over 67% of bank and credit card providers leverage direct mail? Or 63% of healthcare insurers? Or 80% of companies in travel and hospitality? The answer – and what follows below – is that marketers in these industries simply can’t find enough qualified leads without direct mail.

Source: ANA and DMA Response Rate Report

Increased Engagement in the Time of COVID-19 and Beyond

With many more people working from home and many of them never going back to an office, there is no daily commute. People have more time to spend with their direct mail. A survey by Valassis found that 30% of shoppers are spending more time than they did before COVID-19 reading direct mail promotions.

Source: Valassis Survey 2021

Appreciated and Valued

90% of consumer marketing promotions are viewed on a screen, leaving just 10% of consumer marketing promotions seen via other channels. Although we frequently integrate direct mail with digital marketing for enhanced results, it does not arrive via your computer screen – this alone sets direct mail apart and helps it stands out. Because direct mail is printed, it also enables consumers to engage with it at their convenience. Ever tried to find a promotional email you received a week ago? It’s long been buried under the never-ending avalanche of email that followed. Or try to find a digital ad you saw on Facebook, Instagram or a web page just a day ago? Not so easy.

Source: 2018 DMA Statistical Fact Book


Direct mail’s many opportunities for personalization within creative mean greater engagement and response. Nearly 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences. We can personalize by name, location, offer, product, service, industry, customer segment, and more. Depending on the data available, the opportunities are limitless. We can personalize effectively across any direct mail format.

Source: ANA/DMA Response Rate Report


Direct mail provides more data elements to target against than any other marketing channel. The typical national data compiler manages over three thousand data points per person. Combine a multi-sourced wealth of data with sophisticated predictive analytics, and we can rank any list based on the propensity to respond (or other required outcomes). Targeted data is a key and necessary component of direct mail success. Nahan provides 20+ years of data and analytics expertise and access to every type of data needed for direct mail success.  The right data and corresponding analytics can generate 10-40% lifts in response.

Focused Creative

A well-written and designed direct mail package is aimed at obtaining a response. Best-practice messaging like a compelling offer, effective supporting benefits, multiple calls to action, addressing anticipated risk and building engagement are all aimed at effectively selling. Design and format must accommodate different types of readers, align with the brand and present the message in the best possible light and location. Direct mail provides the real estate to both effectively tell your story and ask for the sale. At Nahan, our creative team applies all of these best practice creative techniques to produce response rates that are often 20-50% higher than prior efforts.

Seen and Read

An estimated 80% open rate for direct mail is a remarkable level of engagement. No other direct-to- consumer marketing channel comes close. 60% of catalog recipients visit the website of the company that mailed them the catalog.

Source: 2018 DMA Statistical Fact Book, Small Biz Trends

Source: USPS

Valued and Remembered

The tangible and physical nature of direct mail means a higher level of recognized value and recall. When we can touch and feel a marketing communication, our memory of it is stronger. Many consumers and businesses instinctively understand that more effort may have gone into its creation and delivery than communications received from other channels, further adding to the perceived value.

Source: 2018 DMA Statistical Fact Book, Small Biz Trends


QR codes, variable content, personal URLs (PURLS) and augmented reality used within direct mail creates engagement, digital interaction, and superior web response attribution. Informed Delivery Daily Digest emails from the USPS both present incoming direct mail and can include linked images to additional content or campaign-related micro-sites, turning a campaign into a multi-touch, omni-channel experience.


No personal, company or government networks are brought down or held for ransom by a marketer sending a direct mail package! No brand is impersonated. Direct mail doesn’t get caught in a spam filter. The direct mail channel doesn’t drop tracking cookies on your computer and doesn’t need them to target. There is a level of trust with direct mail that can’t be matched by other marketing channels. In fact, 82% of millennials regard print advertisements as more trustworthy than digital marketing.

Source: Statista, 2019


That said, we are big believers in pairing digital marketing with direct mail. We mean truly integrated campaigns, where we reach the same household with a direct mail piece, and at the same time digital campaigns with the same creative and messaging.  When we do this, we can see response increases ranging from 10-40% against previous efforts. 84% of marketers in a study reported that direct mail improves multi-channel campaign performance.  An integrated campaign that incorporates direct mail and digital can deliver 30% more time spent with the creative than digital alone.

Source: “Why Mail Cuts Through: Measuring Mail’s Effectiveness with Neuroscience,” Royal Mail MarketReach and Neuro-Insight, 2019

Less is More

We receive an average of only 1 direct mail piece for every 36 emails we receive; leading to higher perceived value. While the typical digital ad or communication receives only a second of consideration, direct mail is usually opened with less “noise” around it – usually in an environment and location where there is more time to consider the offer.

Source: CompuMail

Nahan is a world-class, privately-owned, direct marketing services and print solutions company, committed to providing the best value for every project. We produce integrated marketing solutions for our clients, enabling them to successfully acquire, develop, and retain profitable customer relationships. Nahan leverages the power of omnichannel marketing strategy, creative, data, and analytics coupled with world-class production and postal strategies to closely connect your brand with your customers. See how our team of experts can deliver proven marketing strategies and award-winning marketing materials that effectively drive audience response.