By Rami Tarawneh (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

September 24, 2015: Direct Mail can be a successful tool for companies to get their messages into the hands of potential customers, but it can often be difficult to track and quantify results.

Fortunately, new technologies  and content methods are making life easier to evaluate which kinds of programs will lead to successful direct mail campaigns.

Before you can begin to track results, it is important to establish your campaign objective.

Ask yourself how you will determine what is successful and what is not.  The answer will likely depend on the type of industry you are in. A non-profit is going to have different goals than an insurance company.  Each serves audiences with unique online/offline media usage profiles.

If you are product oriented, you will most likely be tracking the number of sales you get from the campaign while a service company will likely be focusing on lead development an information gathering.

Here are five ways to help accomplish direct mail campaign tracking in way that accurately gauges the impact of direct mail efforts:

1. Coupons/Discounts

Redemption of coupons is one of the easiest and most common ways to track direct mail. It immediately promotes an action that can then be evaluated based on the sophistication of the coupons delivered: Barcodes can be altered to determine how the coupon was found.  Codes can be modified to determine where someone lives or the outlet in which that code was advertised.  Each mailing can be assigned a batch number that is easily sourced.  Or, varying discounts types and amounts can be tested to see which one promotes the greatest amount of interaction by demographic. All aimed at establishing a targeted and effective way to grow through the data gathered in redemptions (or lack of).

 2. PURLs

Personalized URLs are a great way to determine who is responding to an offer.  When the customer visits their PURL, they are taken to a landing page customized for them.

Traffic on each unique landing page can be tracked to determine which PURLs are getting hits.  Compared to the mailing list, companies can determine which mailings are working for them – not just the mailing itself, but demographics about the mailing as well.

 3. QR Codes

A QR Code is an image that can be scanned by a smart phone, immediately transitioning communication from a one way piece of mail to interactive digital content.  In order to be effective there must be an incentive for a customer to scan.  A special offer, exclusive content, or customer survey, may all entice someone to make the jump from paper to online.

The page a person is brought to should tie back to the incentive and continue to engage the consumer–it also helps if this page differs from where general site traffic is directed.

 4. Phone Number

Custom phone numbers are one of the oldest ways to track direct mail.  It is also not exclusive to mail–infomercials historically use phone numbers to track which commercials caused the most interaction.  By advertising different phone numbers you can determine which pieces generate the greatest response and which responses are most likely to hit your goals. Further, if phone operators and engaging and well-trained, there is an opportunity to gain additional target consumer insights.

 5. Reply Form Submission

Asking people to fill out a form can help a company collect useful and intelligent information about their campaign results.  Again, it is important to incentivize the interaction with the end user.

Determine what it is you want to give to the client in return, while remembering that the more information you seek, the greater the value should be in rewarding a customer.