Discover the leading SaaS software comparison site

Each month we help +100k companies to find efficient online tools

40 Direct Mail Statistics: 2020/2021 Behavior, Trends & Data Analysis

by Arthur Zuckerman

Nowadays, there is a myriad of ways to deliver your message to your audience: social media, search engine optimization, and email are only a few of the many things businesses and individuals can use to communicate. With our smart devices sending and receiving data almost instantaneously, however, often business owners tend to underestimate one other, more traditional means of communication that has proven itself to be quite effective—direct mail.

Direct mail may seem to be dying out given fast and easy alternative communication methods that small and big businesses are attracted to and use for their leverage. Traditional means like direct mail, however, still yield substantial results even with the ongoing rise of digital methods.

General Direct Mail Statistics

The US postal system was established before the end of the 18th century and the first marketing mail was sent almost a century later. Since then, the trip to and from the mailbox has been a daily routine for most people and it still is. According to the statistics below, people still see the value of direct mail.

  • The average US household receives 11.4 pieces of marketing mail per week.
  • Direct mail spends accounted for the largest portion of US local advertising spend with $38.5 billion.
  • Advertising mail accounted for 62% of all mail received by households in the US in 2018.
  • 44.4% of merchants upped catalog circulation in 2018.
  • Marketing mail is kept in a household for an average of 17 days.

Source: ANA/DMA

Direct Mail Insight Statistics

The invention of email significantly curbed the growth of direct mail recipients. True, it is more convenient for you to receive mails through your smart devices on-the-go. Albeit convenient, this method is often seen as impersonal. This just one reason why receiving physical mail is still favored across all age groups. Moreover, the response rate is significantly higher according to the statistics we compiled below.

  • Direct mail compels action. The USPS found that 23% of direct mail recipients visited the sender’s store location.
  • Consumers aged 45-54 are the demographic group most likely to respond to direct mail pieces.
  • 73% of American consumers say they prefer being contacted by brands via direct mail because they can read it whenever they want.
  • Direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than email.
  • 50.9% of recipients say they find postcards useful.
  • This research strongly suggests that greater emotional processing is facilitated by the physical material than the virtual.
  • Direct mail increases online donations 40%.
  • Personalized and colorized mails increase the response rate of direct mail campaigns by up to 500%.

Direct Mail Conversion Statistics

There are a lot of marketing tactics businesses do to increase revenue — ads, conferences, events, and more. However, nothing compares when businesses directly communicate with consumers. By nature, people respond more to what feels personal to them. For that reason, direct mail is still one of the best ways to reach out to your target demographic. For businesses looking to grow their return on investment, the statistics below cannot be ignored.

  • 29% return on investment can be derived from direct mails.
  • 54% of consumers say they want direct mail from brands that interest them.
  • In 2018, the average response rate for direct mails was 9% for house lists and 4.9% for prospect lists.
  • The highest response rate came from oversized envelopes at 5%.
  • B2B marketers allot 18% of their budget to direct mail marketing and print advertising.
  • 81% of people read or scan their mail daily.
  • 60% of catalog recipients visit the website of the brand that mailed them.
  • Direct mail recipients purchased 28% more items and spent 28% more money than people who didn’t get that piece of direct mail.
  • For every $167 that was spent on direct mail in the US, businesses incur an average ROI of $2,095.
  • Brand recall Is 70% higher than digital ads.

Trusted Ad Channels Before Purchasing in 2016

Trusted Ad Channels Before Purchasing in 2016
Print ads (newspapers, magazines): 82

Print ads (newspapers, magazines)

Trusted Ad Channels Before Purchasing in 2016
TV ads: 80

TV ads

Trusted Ad Channels Before Purchasing in 2016
Ads/catalogs i receive in the mail: 76

Ads/catalogs i receive in the mail

Trusted Ad Channels Before Purchasing in 2016
Radio ads: 71

Radio ads

Trusted Ad Channels Before Purchasing in 2016
Ads in outdoor and public places (billboards, transit ads, etc.): 69

Ads in outdoor and public places (billboards, transit ads, etc.)

Trusted Ad Channels Before Purchasing in 2016
Search engine ads: 61

Search engine ads

Trusted Ad Channels Before Purchasing in 2016
Video ads that appear prior to an online video: 47

Video ads that appear prior to an online video

Trusted Ad Channels Before Purchasing in 2016
Sponsored posts on blogs that I read: 43

Sponsored posts on blogs that I read

Trusted Ad Channels Before Purchasing in 2016
Ads embedded in social media: 43

Ads embedded in social media

Trusted Ad Channels Before Purchasing in 2016
Online banner ads: 39

Online banner ads

Trusted Ad Channels Before Purchasing in 2016
Mobile phone ads: 39

Mobile phone ads

Trusted Ad Channels Before Purchasing in 2016
Ads in podcasts: 37

Ads in podcasts

Trusted Ad Channels Before Purchasing in 2016
Online pop-ups: 25

Online pop-ups



Created by

Direct Mail’s Impact on Millennials

Millennials and Generation Z are two of the most digital-savvy generations today. However, Millennials still appreciate the sentiment coming from things people deem rather impersonal because of technology. A few studies have claimed that Millennials still prefer receiving direct mail. Moreover, these studies also pointed out that the response rates are higher for direct mails and it is more likely to compel action.

  • All age groups are interested in direct mail, and 92% of Millennials have been influenced to make a purchasing decision by direct mail.
  • 69% of Millennials somewhat or very much like mailed coupons for local restaurants.
  • 75% of Millennials said that receiving personal mail (i.e., mail from friends or family) makes them feel special.
  • 62% of Millennials said they had visited a store in the past month based on information received in the mail.
  • When asked, “Which is more effective at getting you to take action?” 30% of Millennials said direct mail, while 24% said email.
  • Studies show that Millennials spent more time with physical ads than digital ads.
  • Millennials are twice as likely as boomers to use ad blockers.
  • 46% of ages between 15 and 25 in the US are using adblockers.
  • In one study, it was shown that targeting a 1:1 level increases response rates by 50%.

Direct Mail Vs. Digital Advertising

Direct mail maybe a little bit more costly compared to digital channels, but the statistics regarding the results speak for themselves. People are still more responsive when given personal mail. Even if brands continuously send direct marketing mails, people simply cannot discard it without scanning the cover and its content. Additionally, people can easily recall brands that have sent them direct mails compared to digital ads.

  • 75% of people who receive direct mail recalled brands easily as opposed to their digital counterparts with only 44% brand recall.
  • An average household receives two direct mail pieces a day compared to an average of 157 emails.
  • The open-rate of direct mails can go as high as 90%, compared to only 20 to 30% of emails.
  • Email’s cost per cost-per-acquisition is $22.52 and direct mail cost-per-acquisition is $43.90.
  • 57% of email addresses are abandoned because the users receive too many marketing emails.
  • 43% said that print is less annoying than the Internet.
  • Compared to digital ads, direct mail works better and yields a 28% higher conversion rate

Source: US Census Bureau

Direct Mail: Is It Worth Writing Home About?

One thing’s for sure — direct mail is very much alive and is still effective.

For small businesses, the budget is limited and is mostly allocated for operational expenses. In effect, cost-effective methods such as social media, search engine optimization, and email are the go-to methods for marketing products and services. However, do not discount the effectiveness and power of direct mail.

The internet is saturated with a lot of data and information and people are becoming desensitized to avoid information overload. Most of the time, marketing emails and content being received through smart devices are often overlooked and discarded. Nowadays, people are more responsive to visceral approaches. That’s why a step back to good ol’ direct mail marketing can help you gain a step ahead of competitors.

However, that doesn’t guarantee that direct marketing will yield substantial results every time—there are still a lot of things to consider. The design, the size, the colors, and the date when the letter will be sent are only a few of the things you need to fine-tune to yield higher ROI. Moreover, this kind of direct marketing may not suit all business models. With the availability of a wide array of marketing tools, business owners and marketers are given the option to choose what best works for them.



  1. The Household Diary Study Mail Use & Attitudes in FY 2018
  2. Is Direct Mail Dead? | Mail Shark
  3. DMA – Data & Marketing Association – The DMA
  5. USPS | Tips for creating an effective acquisition program.
  6. 6 direct mail stats that can’t be ignored
  7. A BIAS FOR ACTION | The neuroscience behind the response-driving power of direct mail
  8. Kantar
  9. Integrated Fundraising | Dunham + Company
  11. Marketing Charts | Median ROI, by Marketing Medium
  12. Infographic: Consumers Know Exactly How They Want to Be Marketed To – Adweek
  14. The Household Diary Study Mail Use & Attitudes in FY 2010
  15. USPS | Mail: Convert Browsers into Online Sales
  17. Millennials Prefer Direct Mail
  18. RARC Report | Millennials and the Mail
  19. US Ad Blocking Users, by Generation, 2019 (% of population) | eMarketer
  20. Audience Project | INSIGHTS 2018 Attitude towards advertising and use of ad blocking
  21. Email vs. Direct Mail: Which Is More Effective for Marketing? | Infographic
  22. A Marketer’s How-To (and Why-To) Guide to Using Direct mail
  23. Home |
  24. 40 Nonprofit Trends for 2020, Free NonProfit Pro White Paper

You may also like

Leave a Comment