Is Printed Direct Mail as cost-effective as other Direct Marketing?

Is Printed Direct Mail as cost-effective as other Direct Marketing?


Some interesting information from the Direct Marketing Association’s 2010 report. The report tries to provide key performance benchmark figures for marketers to assess their own performance. But it also gives a valuable insight into the effectiveness of printed direct mailing, particularly in comparison to some of the other non-print forms of direct marketing.

catalogues - lowest cost per lead/order

Your typical catalogue – a great return on investment!

The report is primarily US based (hence the figures in $) but it gives a great deal of insight for the rest of us too.

What was particularly interesting to see was that catalogues had the lowest cost per lead/order, with inserts too beating email which is often perceived as particularly cost-effective.


  • Response rates for Direct Mail have held steady over the past four years.  Letter-sized envelopes, for instance, had a response rate this year of 3.42 percent for a house list and 1.38 percent for a prospect list.
  • Catalogues had the lowest cost per lead/order of $47.61, just ahead of inserts at $47.69, email at $53.85, and postcards $75.32.
  • Outbound telemarketing to prospects had the highest cost per order or lead of $309.25, but it also had the highest response rate from prospects of 6.16 percent.  The highest response rate for a house list was also telephone, at 10.41 percent.
  • Email to a house list averaged: a 19.47 percent open rate; a 6.64 percent click-through rate; a 1.73 percent conversion rate; with a bounce-back rate of 3.72 percent and an unsubscribe rate of 0.77 percent.
  • Response rates for B-to-B campaigns were generally higher than for B-to-C campaigns.  Lead generation and high-end average sale campaigns also had higher response rates.
  • Nearly 60 percent of direct mail campaigns in financial services aimed to produce a direct sale.  The average response rate was 2.66 percent to a house list and 1.01 percent to a prospect list.

*The survey came in from 473 respondent organisations.

For more reading, you might want to check out our 14 Tips to Increase Direct Mail Response Rates.