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Measuring Success In Your Direct Mail Marketing Campaigns

June 12, 2017

Many businesses begin direct mail marketing to drive brand awareness, to increase demand for their products and services, or to nurture customer relationships. When beginning any new campaign, it’s important to be specific regarding the outcomes you intend to achieve and to have a measurement plan in place before you get started. Pre-planning your measurement approach will help to ensure you are ultimately able to judge the effectiveness of your campaign and are not missing out on valuable insights that could be used to make your marketing strategy even more effective in the future.

In this post, we discuss solutions for measuring and analyzing the performance of four different kinds of direct mail marketing campaigns:

  1. Awareness - informs the masses about your brand, product or service with the ultimate goal of having more people know who you are and what you do
  2. Consideration - increases an individual’s interest in your products or services, with the intent of differentiating your brand from others in your category
  3. Purchase - drives a prospect to near-term action
  4. Loyalty - encourages ongoing, recurring patronage or engagement with your brand

For all campaigns, it is helpful to understand “normal” activity for your brand, as measured by website traffic (especially new visitors), social media followership and engagement, lead acquisition, revenue, or other metrics critical to your organization. If all else fails, knowing your organization’s “normal” provides a benchmark against which to measure lift, which can be used to determine the relative success of your marketing activity.


Direct mail campaigns are effective tools for raising awareness, offering ROI on par with digital media according to the DMA Response Rate 2016 report. However, awareness is a harder metric to track because it does not require action. Additionally, awareness typically requires time - via multiple exposures - to grow. Thus unlike campaigns that can be measured on a one-to-one basis, awareness campaigns should be measured with less frequency and over a longer period of time.

Large brands typically measure awareness through brand awareness studies, which include user surveys that assess brand recall and recognition, brand attitudes and perceptions, and purchase or intent to purchase. Such studies are also appropriate for smaller businesses and organizations, and can be executed using free or low-cost tools such as Survey Monkey.

The frequency of brand awareness studies will vary depending on factors including:

  • Marketing activity level - more activity merits more frequent assessment
  • Category competitiveness - the more players there are in your space, the more brand awareness and perception is likely to shift, making more frequent measurement beneficial
  • Product purchase cycle - for example, if it is normal for a person to buy a product in your category only once per year, you might consider running an awareness survey annually vs. quarterly

If the idea of surveying customers and prospects to gauge brand awareness is too daunting, consider tracking awareness via proxy metrics, such as new website visitors during the campaign timeframe, compared to your standard benchmark.


Consideration campaigns typically offer education, social proof (like testimonials, reviews, or endorsements), or competitive positioning, among other tactics. Because they encourage deeper engagement with the brand, it’s common, and recommended, for consideration-oriented direct mail campaigns to encourage people to learn more about your brand by visiting your online presence.

A surefire way to track consideration campaigns is through campaign-specific calls-to-action, like specialized landing pages for your mailers with unique URLs. These landing pages will help you track the source of your traffic – if you get 1,000 hits from a single mailer, you’ll know exactly where the traffic came from, allowing you to more easily track performance.

Another area to track is social media. Ask your audience to follow you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. With the metrics provided on Facebook Business profiles, for example, you can watch how the rate of new followers increases during times of mailings.


In a direct mail marketing campaign, purchase behavior can be measured best when unique incentives are offered to direct mail recipients, so that redemption can be tied to direct mail effectiveness. Incentives might include:

  • Small discounts
  • Free (low value) gifts with purchase
  • Free or discounted trials
  • Free or discounted assessments or consultations

When such offers are in place, you will be able to track both online and offline purchases back to your direct mail campaign. In addition, incentives encourage timely action on the part of buyers, and can be effective in driving near-term sales.

Beyond incentives, unique online landing pages may also be used to track conversions - as they are in consideration campaigns - assuming you support e-commerce, online registration or online appointment bookings.

Depending on the size of your organization, simply asking customers or clients at the time of purchase how they heard about you offers another opportunity to gather data regarding the success of your campaign. If this is your preferred tracking method, be sure your entire staff is aware and held accountable for gathering data, and also ensure staff is educated regarding where to track and how to communicate this information.

If using special offers and online landing pages doesn’t make sense for your business, and asking customers about purchase drivers is impractical, you can track campaign impact against historical sales benchmarks as a proxy.


Your marketing job isn’t over once a new customer makes a purchase. Ensuring customers return regularly is a critical element of your ongoing efforts. Direct mail loyalty activities often include come-back, refer-a-friend and thank you campaigns. As with purchase campaigns, loyalty campaign measurement is typically tied to unique incentives offered to direct mail recipients or calls-to-action leading to campaign-specific landing pages.


Measurement is a critical to effective marketing. Establishing tracking metrics ahead of your direct mail campaign is the best way to ensure you will be able to understand results. Such measurement will also help you to gain a better understanding of your customer so you can better communicate with them and others like them in the future. To learn more about how direct mail can help you grow your business, read about our variety targeted mailing lists.