Mail Response Rates?

Increasing Direct Mail Response: What kind of response can you expect from your direct mail campaign? What can you do to boost that response?

Dear Janet,

What is the response rate for mailings? I send out 50 letters a week to doctors to build my medical billing business at home, but there has been no reply back. Why? Should I send out more letters per week?

–Looking for Business

Dear Looking,

Mail response rates vary greatly. They are influenced by who you send the mailing to, what you say in your letter, whether or not you are reaching the right person, when the letter arrives, and the phase of the moon. Mailers who send thousands of pieces of direct mail at one time to carefully selected mailing lists usually consider they’ve done well if they get 1 to 2 percent response rate. Mass mailings to all the people in a particular zip code are likely to get response rates as low as 1 in 10,000 or lower.

But those figures are ballpark figures for large mailings. When you’re mailing small batches of letters at a time, there’s no good way to predict the response rate. 

Don’t rush to send out more letters per week, though. A bigger mailing may not get any better results. Instead of trying to send out more letters each week, try these suggestions:

  • Have someone you can trust look over your letter to see if the letter is clear, to the point, promises a benefit and asks the recipient to DO something (like call you for an appointment). If you have experience in medical billing, your letter should make that clear, too. After you’ve made all of your corrections, ask a couple of people to check the final letter for typos and grammatical errors. (If you don’t, you’ll begin to understand my “phase of the moon” comment above when someone points out a glaring typo in your mailing after you’ve sent it to hundreds of prospects.) 
  • Make sure you are sending your letters to a person, not to “Dear Doctor” or Dear Office Manager.” (Call each doctor’s office to find out who should receive your mail.)
  • Consider including a brochure in addition to your letter. 
  • Follow up each mailing with a phone call. Mention your recent mailing and ask them if you can provide more information. Keep notes about anything they say. Try to make an appointment to see them in person if they sound like they might be a prospect for your service.
  • Mail follow-up postcards to the same list once a month. Recency and frequency are important.
  • Be persistent. Keep up mailings and periodic phone calls to any offices that seem like they might be good prospects.

Good luck!

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