Direct mail response is measured in 1/10ths of a percent. We do a tremendous amount of direct mail for our lawn maintenance and irrigation company (about 120k post cards a season) and average between 1 - 3 per thousand in response. The best we've done has been 5 per thousand. I've learned over many years of doing it that it's more about timing than anything, if you're in front of someone with a message about something they happen to be looking for right then, you'll get a response. If not, you'll get ignored. With lawn maintenance, the timing of mailings is a lot easier than with lighting but the profit on lighting is a lot better so you don't need nearly as good of a response and you can target lighting mailings a lot better. We've mailed about 10k postcards for lighting jobs over the last few years and gotten about 5 jobs off of them but the 5 jobs amounted to profit of 5x the mailing cost so it was worth it.
BTW, EDDM stands for Every Door Direct Mail. It's great if you want to saturate an area and can live with the restrictions of the program but it doesn't allow nearly the flexibility of doing regular Standard Mail. I looked into it as an alternative for the way we're doing things and found it to be both too restrictive and more expensive than the way we do things now so I decided to stick with the current method. One of the biggest issues you're going to find with EDDM is that you're not really going to have much control over how quickly things get delivered since it has to be manually sorted by the carrier. We used to drop our Standard Mail off at the destination post office because we got an additional discount for doing so but since the carrier had to manually sort those mailings into their route, we found that it would sometimes take up to 6 weeks to get full delivery of a mailing. Standard Mail and EDDM offer no delivery time guarantees so if you get a lazy carrier, you're going to have to deal with that. When things changed a few years back and we started dropping our mailings off at the Sorting Facility with Automation bar codes, we saw 100% delivery time of our mailings drop to 3 days.
There's a lot involved in getting a mailing setup for Standard Mail though, it took me a year to get to the point that I could do one and not have any "errors" in it. It saves a lot of money to do it yourself but it takes me about 4 days to prepare a 20k piece mailing, get it verified and take it to the Sorting Facility. Sometimes I've got nothing better to do and don't mind, other times I have paying work to do that I have to be on myself and end up doing most of the work in the evening or on the weekend, so I'd suggest talking to a mailing service before deciding to do it on your own. It might be worth paying someone else to have your time free. I don't mind doing it myself but I've got it down now.
One last though, my experience is that repetition improves direct mail response. The first mailing will do OK, the 2nd mailing will go down a little but the 3rd mailing often gives 2x the response of the first. I don't know why that is, it's just what I've experienced. I'll usually space those mailings about 3 - 4 weeks apart.
Last edited by bcg; 05-05-2013 at 10:23 PM.