Direct Mail Statistics - The State of Direct Marketing in 2022

Direct Mail Statistics - The State of Direct Marketing in 2022

By now, we've all heard the skeptics say that direct mail is dead. But the data tells a different story. In fact, direct mail response rates have been increasing steadily for the past few years, and they're only expected to go up in the coming years. 

Looking at the state of direct marketing in 2022, it's clear that this form of communication is still going strong. Despite the ever-growing popularity of online marketing, direct mail continues to be one of the most effective ways to reach customers and prospects.

In this article, we will explore some direct mail statistics that show the state of this channel in 2022.

The Top 10 Most Interesting Direct Mail Statistics 2022

Direct marketing has a fascinating history that dates back to Europe in the 15th Century. However, the term “direct marketing” is credited to having been invented by Lester Wunderman of marketing agency Wunderman, Ricotta & Kline in a 1967 MIT speech.

But enough of the fascinating historical facts, let's move on to the interesting statistics for direct marketing in 2022.

In a given year, the average American family can expect to receive 454 pieces of marketing correspondence.

This direct mail statistic from USPS points to the fact that businesses are still relying heavily on direct mail to reach their target audiences. They wouldn't keep doing it if it wasn't working. While this is nothing compared to the number of emails we receive daily, it's still a significant amount. However, it's also much easier to ignore an email than it is to ignore a piece of mail.

With many of our bills, bank statements, and other necessary correspondence being delivered digitally, a direct marketing piece is more likely to stand out amongst our physical mail.

A surprising direct mail statistic from the Marketing Profs is that just 44% of individuals can recollect a brand after viewing a digital ad. In comparison, 75% of direct mail recipients could.

Why is this? It's simple, really. With so many ads being served to us daily, it's nearly impossible to remember them all. But when we receive direct mail advertising in the mail, it's tactile and physical. We can hold it in our hands, and personalized direct mail is more likely to make an impression.

55% of people are said to look forward to getting their mail every day.

The routine of the postman coming to our doorsteps is still a cherished one. In fact, many people actually look forward to checking their mailboxes every day to see what's inside. For most of us, the same can't be said of our email inboxes. This makes direct mail a great way to break through the noise and reach your target audience.

Considering that direct mail accounts for nearly 60% of all mail received by US households (according to a USPS mail use and attitudes report).

This would indicate that a significant number of people are looking forward to receiving direct mail.

Statista also mentions that in 2021, a survey found that 65% of Gen Y and 57% of Gen Z respondents were excited to receive direct mail.

The findings indicate that this advertising channel will continue to be relevant among American consumers from different age groups.

Direct mail advertising spending in the United States averages around $167 per person each year.

If you've heard that direct marketing is dead, tell that to the businesses who are still spending big bucks on it.

These advertisers in the United States additionally earn an average of $2,095 worth of items sold per customer through the use of direct mail.

Do you want to know the ROI of those last two statistics from Small Business Trends? It's a whopping 1,300%!

What if we told you one of the biggest users of direct marketing is Google?

Yes, you read that correctly. Google uses direct mail as part of its acquisition strategy for new customers. This just goes to show that even the biggest and most successful internet business in the world still relies on direct mail to reach new customers!

According to research conducted by the Data and Marketing Association, direct mail is responsible for getting 39% of customers to try a brand for the first time.

So, if brand awareness is your goal, direct mail marketing shouldn't be ignored.

60% of people who receive a catalog in the post go to the company's website after receiving it.

Browsing through an old-fashioned physical catalog can actually be a very effective way of driving web traffic and online sales. Consumers will often peruse the catalog before visiting the website to find further information or make a purchase.

Direct Mail Statistics that Prove the Effectiveness of Direct Mail Campaigns

In an increasingly digital world, the effectiveness of direct mail marketing often comes into question. You might have heard about its benefits and were still unsure whether it was the right marketing move for your business. The best way of proving its effectiveness is to look at the facts; the stats below show that direct mail is alive and kicking!

A survey of 589 marketers found that nearly two-thirds (59%) reported good to very good ROI from direct mail marketing campaigns.

This survey from Marketing Charts highlighted how multichannel campaigns benefited from using direct mail. The report also called to attention that direct mail postcards were the medium that they used the most, which is food for thought if you're considering a direct mail campaign.

A Royal Mail Brand Science review of multi-channel campaigns concluded that when mail was included in the mix, marketing campaigns had a 12% higher ROI than those that did not include mail.

Taking a holistic approach to your marketing campaigns will always be more effective than relying on one channel. But as this direct mail statistic demonstrates, adding direct mail to the mix can actually help increase your ROI.

Statistics on Direct Mail Compared to Email

When email was the new kid on the block and started becoming popular in the mid-nineties, it was said that direct mail marketing would become extinct. How wrong those predictions were!

There's no argument that email hasn't revolutionized the way we communicate, but it hasn't killed off direct mail. In fact, the two channels complement each other quite nicely. As we mentioned earlier, people are more likely to pay attention to a piece of mail than an email. So, when you combine the two channels, you create a powerful marketing tool.

The Data & Marketing Association (formerly the Direct Mail Marketing Association) estimated that the average direct mail response rate is 4.4%, while the response rate for email is 0.12%.

Of course, the response rate can depend on many factors, not least the quality of your list, your marketing offer, and your creativity. But on the whole, you can expect a more significant direct mail response rate over email.

A recent Forbes article said that studies have shown that as much as 90% of direct mail is opened, whereas the strongest email campaign would struggle ever to match such an open rate averaging around 20-30%.

Still, this is a little unfair on email, as the likelihood is that you would open up most mail just to ensure that it wasn't anything important, you might then read it properly, or you might just trash it. The open rates of emails are also easier to track than direct mail open rates.

But still, if the estimates of 90% are close, at least you know your direct mail piece is getting eyes on it. It's up to you to make your direct mail offers as compelling as possible.

Statistics on Direct Mail's Psychological Effects

Psychological studies have shown that people tend to value things that are physically close to them more than those that are not. This is known as the proximity principle. And it's one of the reasons why direct mail can be so effective. Because when someone receives a piece of direct mail, it's right there in front of them. They can touch it, feel it, and even smell it. This can profoundly impact how they feel when receiving marketing messages.

Small Business Trends identified that 70% of people who participated in a survey said they favor direct mail to email since it makes them feel more emotionally connected.

This stat just goes to show how powerful direct mail can be. And it's not just because of the proximity principle. There are several other psychological factors at play here as well. For example, receiving a piece of mail can make people feel special and appreciated. It's a physical reminder that someone took the time to send them something, which can go a long way in building relationships.

According to estimates provided by Forbes, around 42 % of direct mail recipients who get commercial mailers either read or scan them.

Again, we must understand the recipients' behaviors and think about how you deal with emails compared to how you deal with your daily post. How many emails do you automatically trash without even reading them? Probably quite a few.

But with physical mail, you are more likely to take a cursory glance at least. The mail might also sit around your house for a few days before you get around to dealing with it, but it's still in your line of sight.

Epsilon reports that 73% of American consumers claim that they prefer direct mail from brands because they can peruse it whenever they wish.

This is further confirmed by Marketreach, a division of the Royal Mail Group, which discovered that 75% of business mail remained in the home for more than four weeks and is revisited an average of five times.

This shows that, even though people might not immediately take action on your direct mail piece, the message will still be sitting in their homes, working away in the background, slowly but surely building brand awareness and affinity.

Marketreach in a 2020 study also found that mail is considered more believable by 87% of people compared to email, which is believed by 48% of recipients.

This makes perfect sense; how many spam or shady emails do you get in your inbox every day? Way too much, right? But when direct mail pieces arrive in your mailbox, it's physical evidence that someone has taken the time and money to send you something. This makes it seem more legitimate and trustworthy.

A research collaboration between the Office of Inspector General of the United States Postal Service and the Center for Neural Decision found that physical advertisements outperform digital ads in terms of leaving a lasting impression.

Using neuromarketing research techniques, they found that participants had a higher response to physical ads in terms of both cognitive and emotional engagement.

Neuromarketing is a new and exciting field that is just beginning to scratch the surface of its potential. However, even without this cutting-edge research, we already know that direct mail is more likely to grab attention than digital ads. This is because people are bombarded with them daily and have become very good at ignoring them.

Studies have shown that we now see and process around 5,000 marketing messages every single day. This number is only increasing as we spend more and more time online. It's no wonder that traditional direct mail stands out.

Generational Direct Mail Statistics

Some marketers are under the misapprehension that direct mail is a marketing tactic only used by businesses targeting an older audience. But the secret is out…

Direct mail can be highly effective in marketing to all generations!

One of the best things about direct mail marketing is that it's highly customizable, which means you can tailor your campaign specifically to appeal to each generation. And because all generations respond well to direct mail—albeit for different reasons—you can reach them all effectively.

Let's look at them one by one:

Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)

Baby boomers are the original target market for direct mail and remain a key demographic for businesses today. This generation is also more likely to have disposable income to make purchases, which makes them an attractive target for businesses.

The Baby Boomer generation comprises the largest share of the nation's household population at 37.5%, as well as the largest share of the nation's investable assets, nearly half at 45.5%. They have a total investable asset holding value of a massive $14.5 trillion.

According to UPS, 89% of boomers look out for coupons and deals the most in direct mail pieces.

Boomers, more so than any other generation, prefer to read special offers and communications in the form of direct mail rather than digitally. Direct mail was preferred by 50% of respondents.

Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980)

Gen X has a reputation for being skeptical, and this extends to their attitude towards marketing. They are also a busy generation juggling work and family commitments, so they don't have much time to waste. This generation is more likely to be responsive to direct mail than any other.

According to research conducted by the USPS, more than 70% percent of consumers in the Gen X demographic believe that receiving mail in the post feels more personal than online communications. In addition, they are also more inclined to read advertising mail than emails.

Two-thirds of Generation X consumers have a favorable opinion of businesses that send them marketing material in the post relevant to their interests.

Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996)

Also known as generation Y, this generation is often most challenging to reach through traditional marketing channels. They are digital natives who are used to being bombarded with advertising messages, so they have become very good at ignoring them. If you can capture their attention with a direct mail piece, you're more likely to get their attention.

In a RARC report - Millennials and the Mail, 69% of participants stated they love receiving restaurant coupons in the mail.

62% of Millennials reported that they had gone to a store during the past month due to receiving information in the mail.

Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012)

This is the most recently defined generation, and they are still in their formative years. They are digital natives who have grown up in a world of constant technology and instant gratification. As such, they have very short attention spans and are used to getting what they want when they want it. A direct marketing piece that is well-designed, concise, and relevant to their interests is more likely to capture their attention than a generic ad.

The direct mail response rate among Gen Z ages 18-21 is 12.4%, while digital ads have a.12% response rate, according to The Data & Marketing Association findings.

72% of Gen Zs have expressed that they would feel disappointed if they could not receive mail in the future.

Key Takeaways on Direct Mail Marketing Statistics

With all the positive statistics around direct mail, it's no wonder many businesses are using it as part of their marketing mix. 

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Direct mail can be an extremely effective marketing tool, with many studies showing that it outperforms digital channels in terms of engagement and ROI.
  • If you want to maximize the effectiveness of your direct mail campaigns, it's essential to understand the behavior of your target audience and what makes them tick.
  • A number of psychological factors are at play when people receive direct mail, making it a powerful channel for building customer relationships.
  • Despite the ubiquity of digital advertising, direct mail remains an effective way to cut through the noise and reach your target audience.
  • Multi-generational marketing is a key trend in direct mail, with businesses targeting different age groups with different messages and offers.

Is There a Future for Direct Mail?

Online marketing is becoming a more expensive and competitive arena, with businesses fighting for a piece of the pie. As click-through rates continue to decline, businesses are looking for new ways to reach and engage their target audiences.

And while direct mail marketing isn't exactly new by any stretch of the imagination, with the right data and technology, businesses can now use direct mail in a much more targeted and personalized way than ever before.

Closing Thoughts

We hope this article on fascinating direct mail marketing statistics has shown how relevant this form of marketing is, even in today's digital world. While email and social media might get all the attention, direct mail should not be ignored.

The statistics don't lie; direct mail leads to better customer engagement, higher response rates, and more sales. It can result in an unstoppable marketing force combined with digital marketing channels.



Small Business Trends

Marketing Charts



Data & Marketing Association

Marketing Profs



Millennials and the Mail Report

Direct Mail Marketing FAQs

What is Direct Marketing?

Direct marketing is a type of marketing in which you communicate with potential customers directly. This can be done through various channels, including mail, email, phone calls, and text messages.

What are the benefits of direct marketing?

Direct marketing has many benefits, including the ability to target specific audiences, create personalized messages, and measure results efficiently through a tangible or tactile medium.

What direct mail marketing strategies work the best?

This is not easy to answer in a few words, as it depends on your business, products, and target market. However, some general tips for a successful direct mail marketing strategy include segmenting your list, using a strong call-to-action, and making sure your offer is valuable.

Do the statistics show what is the best day of the week to send out direct mail?

Yes, Tuesday to Thursday have been shown to get the best average response rate for direct marketing campaigns. This is because people are more likely to be at home and have the time to go through their mail on these days of the week.



Back to Blog