Employee of the post office delivering direct mail marketing pieces in the snow

New Data Proves Direct Mail Marketing ROI is Higher than Digital Marketing Channels

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) is an industry-leading source of marketing research and intelligence that publishes valuable benchmark data. This data helps marketers make strategic decisions. Every January, the ANA releases its annual Response Rate Report, an analysis of performance and cost metrics across direct media channels. These channels include direct mail and digital outreach channels, such as SMS, email, paid search, social media advertising, and digital display advertising. This post will share the most recent return on investment (ROI) findings for direct mail from ANA and data from other trusted sources to help you make the most of your 2023 marketing budget.

Direct mail marketing ROI

The 2022 ANA Response Rate Report has revealed critical direct mail marketing ROI data. This data proves that this tried-and-true tactic remains a strong and viable marketing strategy in 2023 and beyond.

When analyzing the ROI of all media – direct mail and digital channels – the study concluded that: 

Study participants who sent direct mail (letter-sized envelopes) to prospect lists reported the highest ROI of all media.

This finding is consistent with the organization’s 2021 report, which revealed the following average ROI performance data across all direct marketing channels:

  • Direct mail: 85-112%
  • SMS: 102%
  • Email: 93%
  • Paid search: 88%
  • Social media advertising: 81%
  • Digital display advertising: 79%

So, what gives direct mail such an edge over every other direct marketing channel? Keep reading, and we’ll explain a few of the reasons that direct mail ranks higher on the ROI scale.

Image of a pile of envelops used for direct mail marketing roi

Why does direct mail have a higher ROI than digital channels?

Let’s dive into why direct mail marketing ROI is higher than digital outreach efforts.

  1. Direct mail has a higher response rate.

According to research by the Data & Marketing Association (DMA), direct mail has a response rate of 9% to a house list and 5% to a prospect list, compared to email’s response rate of just 1%. This means that direct mail is five to nine times more effective than email at getting a response from customers.

  • Direct mail is less saturated than digital media.

We’re bombarded with daily digital messages, from emails to social media ads to website pop-ups. As a result, it can take a lot of work for your digital marketing message to stand out. Direct mail, however, is less saturated, so your message is more likely to get noticed and remembered.

  • Direct mail is more targeted.

With direct mail, you can target specific households or neighborhoods based on demographics, income, and other factors. This means you can send your message directly to the people most likely interested in your product or service. Digital media outreach can also be targeted, but it’s not always as precise as direct mail.

While digital channels are effective marketing avenues, direct mail has a higher ROI, partly due to its higher response rate, lower saturation, and more precise targeting.

Next, we’ll break down a few more powerful effectiveness statistics that prove that direct mail deserves a spot in your 2023 marketing mix.

Is direct mail marketing still effective?

Absolutely, it is. As we’ve explained in this article, direct mail marketing ROI has surpassed other direct marketing channels. It’s a key performance indicator signifying that direct mail is alive and well.

To drive home the effectiveness of this profit- and growth-fueled direct marketing tactic, consider the following interesting facts that can help you embrace direct mail with confidence:

  • 82% of consumers trust print more than any other direct marketing tactics
  • Consumers engage with 96% of direct mail, whereas the optimal click-through-rate (CTR) for an email marketing campaign is only 3%
  • 92% of direct mail recipients have been driven to online or digital activity, and 87% have been influenced to make online purchases
  • Recipients of a direct mailer purchased 28% more merchandise and spent 28% more than non-recipients

The message here is clear: Don’t overlook the power of direct mail in your direct marketing mix. However, the secret to marketing success is blending direct mail with digital marketing to help you capitalize on the full spectrum of bottom-line boosting advantages.

To help you get the most from both approaches, we’ve created IQ Mail, an intelligent, direct mail solution for the digital world. IQ Mail is a multi-channel tool that allows you to use print and digital media to increase campaign exposure, improve response rates, and calculate ROI. Schedule a demo of IQ Mail or contact our print communications experts to learn more.

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