Currently, there is a discussion on one of the LinkedIn boards about elevated response rates that got me all riled up. Those conversations always do. The question was whether or not to believe elevated response rates (30%, 40%) for direct mail campaigns.
I’ve got a few opinions about that. After all, for my Marketer’s Primer Series of reports (digital print, 1:1 print, personalized URLs, Web-to-print, green marketing), I read every case study in the Print on Demand Initiative (PODi) database. Plus, I’ve written hundreds of my own. There are some very clear trends in terms of elevated response rates.
Response rates tend to be very high when marketers are . . .
1. using an in-house list
2. aren’t asking people to buy something
3. using other attention-getting techniques like over-sized cards, lumpy mail, and audio chips
4. using multi-touch campaigns (email, SMS to non-responders)
5. using extremely targeted, relevant lists
6. offering a very compelling incentive for little effort on the recipient’s part
That’s why it’s so critical to dissect each campaign and understand what caused the elevated (or not so elevated) response rates.
It’s also important to put response rates into perspective. I’ve seen plenty of campaigns with single-digit response rates that were phenomenally successful. Before evaluating response rates, you need to know the conversion rate. There are plenty of campaigns that are so targeted that a low response rate still yields a high conversion rate and great ROI.
It also depends on the value of the product being sold. High-value products don’t need high response rates to get great ROI.
In my opinion, the response rate conversation is really outdated and offers very little value. Really, it should be about ROI. It’s weaning marketers off that response rate discussion that will be hard.