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Direct Mail Frequency: How Many Times Should You Mail the Same Offer?

Wes Sparling

Your team puts a tremendous amount of time and effort into every direct mail campaign. You’re meticulous about the offer, the creative, the timing, the list and the proper response channels. So you’re not going to put all that energy into creating a single piece without getting as much value as possible out of it. When it comes to direct mail frequency, you might be wondering how many times you should mail the same offer to the same list before the ROMI is no longer justified.

There are certain “rules of thumb” that have been used over the years regarding direct mail frequency. You may be familiar with the premise that a re-mail will receive a 50% degradation of response per wave. Or, you may have heard that mailing someone the same offer 11 times will typically achieve a response.

In truth, degradation of response based on mailing the same offer to the same person multiple times is unique to the offer and the category of business. However, on average wave over wave re-mail response degradation is typically between 30 and 50%, and the rate of degradation is often higher from the first wave to the second than from the second to the third. There is a bottom point as well. One well-known client we worked with found that after the third wave there was little substantive degradation of response. The mail continued to deliver a constant (but small) number of controllable leads. This indicates the level of demand in the market at a given point of time.

Different Objectives for Different Forms of Advertising

With brand advertising we are commonly told that multiple impressions are needed for a person to develop a cognitive awareness of the brand. While it’s undoubtedly true that multiple impressions create increased awareness, if those impressions aren’t compelling messages to respond, response will not occur. In short, if someone is sure they don’t want to buy what you’re selling, seeing an ad for it over and over again won’t make a difference.

However, if someone is on the fence about buying your product or service, regular exposure may capture their interest and convince them to buy from you instead of a competitor when they finally decide to make a purchase. In many cases, a change in offer can move them off the fence and toward a purchase decision. In retail this is accomplished through a “Sale.” In direct mail it could be an offer change such as a price drop, a new incentive to act such as a gift, or simply a new presentation of the current offer.

Focus on More Than Just The Offer

Many times the best solution to reducing degradation is not adjusting the offer, but rather adjusting the creative package layout and copy. Changing the presentation of the offer can many times lift response rates. A series of rotating control packages sent in a series can often reduce overall degradation.

At IWCO Direct we work to minimize response degradation through strategic package design, mail cadence and offer strategies. Testing is the only viable way to determine an optimal direct mail cadence. What we hope to accomplish, and have done with great success, is create a steady stream of leads for our clients without significant loss of lead volume wave over wave. This requires implementing direct mail frequency tests and comparing the degradation of response between test populations. We are often able to significantly reduce degradation while simultaneously improving package response and conversion.

While statements like “It takes 11 contacts to produce a response” are typically not representative of today’s best practices, they are useful for reinforcing the need to be consistent and regimented in your efforts to win business. It’s our belief that when done correctly, it can take as little as one contact to generate a response.

link https://www.iwco.com/blog/2015/10/20/direct-mail-frequency/
Wes Sparling


Wes Sparling

SVP, Marketing Strategy & Data Analytics at IWCO Direct. Former agency owner and 23+ year direct marketing veteran. Joining IWCO Direct in 2014, he brings the "plan diligently and act definitively" philosophy to a variety of client campaigns. This father and former Arizona High School Track and Field Regionals discus champion loves stream fishing for trout, rooting for the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers and his three dogs.

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