Tracking direct mail campaign results

July 24, 2015: Direct mail is an effective, efficient channel for reaching consumers and prospects. It’s relatively inexpensive, is capable of creating strong and positive relationships, and demonstrates better response rates than many competing channels.

But what good is a direct mail campaign if it isn’t monitored? How are marketers supposed to know how well it is performing if they do not conduct an analysis? Unfortunately, this is something that many fail to do, which is a big mistake, because tracking is of the most important components of any mailing campaign.

Tracking a direct mail campaign consists of two separate but related tasks. The first is keeping an eye on delivery to ensure that your mail reaches its intended recipients. Obviously, there is no point to sending out a package if it doesn’t get to its intended destination. The second task is measuring a mailing’s success by way of its response rate.

It’s imperative that marketers know exactly who is responding to them. This way, they can easily develop an idea about which mailing piece is most successful (if more than one is being sent out), and whether or not the expense of the direct mail campaign was justified. Lastly, an evaluation allows them to determine what changes need to be made (if any) in order to enhance the performance of future campaigns.

Below are several pointers to help make tracking your direct mail campaign an easier process:

  1. Be specific with your URL or phone number: When you include a URL or phone number in your mailing piece, make sure that they’re exclusive to your campaign. This way, you can easily confirm that every access to this URL/phone number is a direct result of your mailing, not due to general traffic (in the case of the URL) or from other advertising (in the case of the phone number.)
  2. Segment your lists: Direct mail lists can consist of hundreds — in some cases thousands of contacts. Therefore it is very important to break them down into smaller lists and segment them accordingly. This will Tracnot only make it that much easier for you to keep track of who is who, but also keep track of the many parameters that form the basis of your campaign. Keeping lists tightly segments also makes it far easier to provide the kind of customization/personalization known to raise response rates.
  3. Assign a tracking code: Although there are several ways to apply a code to your mailing piece, the most common is through the use of a bar code. However, an easier method would be to simply number each campaign. The idea here is to make sure you have a way to differentiate between responses generated from different campaigns and assign credit accordingly.
  4. Create and use a spreadsheet: Spreadsheets are excellent tools for tracking direct mail campaigns, particularly because they allow you to easily compare and contrast the performance of multiple campaigns. Even if you’re only running one campaign at any given time, they are useful. Spreadsheets not only provide you with room to record when you mailed your piece, to which list, etc.; they give you the opportunity to create formulas, keep track of what your offer is, and record any costs you have accrued throughout the course of the campaign’s development.

The key to creating a direct mail campaign that works is knowing which techniques are most effective. But obtaining this knowledge does not come from conducting research in a vacuum. It comes from trial and error, in a process where results are carefully tracked, compared, and used to continually improve and refine future campaigns to make them perform better. And in the end, running high performance campaigns is what it’s all about.