Calculating Direct Mail ROI

Coming from Procter & Gamble, I’m a firm believer in measuring results. Too often for small to medium-sized financial institutions, little tracking is done. We measure success or failure at the campaign level, instead of looking at the pieces of the puzzle.

Direct mail is a strong driver of any financial marketing campaign. We all know it works, but how do we quantify the effectiveness? It’s surprisingly easy.

Save the List

Keep a record of who receives each mailer. Keeping a record of the account number or member number of each recipient is key to evaluating the campaign.

Check Your Records

Three to six months post-mailing, check your core data to see if the member acted. I had our data ops team put together a query to check each product by contract date. I export the core data for the product, then compare the member numbers from the mailing to the list of new product accounts.


According to the DMA, the average response rate for B2C direct mail is between 3.5% to 5% depending on the type of mailing. That said, a well targeted direct mail campaign to current members should see significantly higher results. I see a 7% or higher response rate for loan-based mailing to members 50 years of age and older. While response rate is a great measurement, Return on Investment (ROI) is better.

For ROI, I go with a back-of-the-envelope-style calculation. It’s not accurate, but it’s close enough to illustrate the point and ensure you stay on track.

Put together an Excel sheet with the following data for a loan mailing:

1 Total # Mailed 150 From your list
2 Total Cost $350.00 Invoice from your mailing/printing service
3 Cost per Individual Mailed $2.33 =B2/B1
4 Converted 17 From comparing your list to core data
5 Conversion Rate 11% =B4/B1
6 Average Loan Amount $17,450.00 From core data, average the loan amount for all the converted
7 Average APR 1.27% From core data, average the APR amount for all the converted
8 Average Term in Years 5 From core data, average the term for all the converted
9 Revenue $3,390.71 =(B6-B6/B8/2)*(B7)*B4
10 Revenue minus marketing cost $3,040.71 =B9-B2
11 ROI 969% =B9/B2

[Download the table as an Excel sheet (xlsx)]

Column A is the description and Column B is your data. Column C has the equation or source of the data. If you have access to a financial calculator you can calculate the actual revenue instead of taking the (APR) times (loan amount minus half a year’s worth of payments). In the example, our ROI is 969%. If you have the overhead costs for the loans, you could subtract that from the revenue as well for a more accurate ROI. Keep in mind, the more accurate you make this model, the more time it takes to evaluate each mailing.

What About Using a Landing Page to Track Conversion?

Using a landing page with each mailing makes tracking engagement much easier. By directing members to visit a specific page on your website that will only be advertised via the mailer seems like a simple way to track whether your mailer is working, ex: However, if your membership is like mine, it skews 60+. While there are many tech-savvy seniors, many still prefer to engage with your staff through phone calls or in person — meaning you’ll miss out on tracking these conversions.

Do you have a suggestion to make this post better? Send me an email at

New Media as an Entry Point to Traditional Publicity

New Media

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No political candidate can survive without positive press in the traditional media sphere. With a new campaign, securing that first piece in the paper is a difficult task, especially in a district that historically receives little or no press.

During the 2010 cycle, our campaign solved this problem by utilizing new media to create a groundswell of support, positioning a routine press release on the radar of the major media players, and receiving a featured write up in the largest newspaper in the state.

Case Study

From 2009 through 2010, I was the communications director for the Whipple for Kansas House campaign in District 96 of Wichita, Kansas. After month of planning, we officially kicked off the campaign in April of 2010.

The situation our campaign was in was not optimal for receiving free press. Our candidate had little to no name recognition with the general public, the district represents only 3.5% of the metropolitan population, and the election was still seven months away.

To kick off the campaign, I developed a strategy that would complement the traditional press release to increase the odds of obtaining coverage.  My eyes were set on a write-up in the Wichita Eagle, the largest and most influential paper in the area.

The process began with a humdrum press release. The release announced the candidate entering the race. It included a short bio, key platforms and information about an upcoming speaking engagement. The release was sent to multiple reporters at the Wichita Eagle (we targeted all political reporters and editors), as well as other papers and non-traditional media sources.

Four days later, the release had been published in its entirety on a few blogs, with a small write up from an online newspaper. But not the Eagle.

This is when the strategy took effect. Our campaign staff consisted of the campaign manager, a handful of interns/volunteers and me.  During our weekly campaign meeting, I gave everyone the task of promoting the story on social media, including posting links to the sites that were already covering us. Our goal was to have an endless supply of impressions that would hopefully be seen by the Eagle staff. I also told the rest of the staff to encourage their friends to do the same.

This was followed by the writing of an article that was submitted to ForwardKansas (a defunct blogging community that focused on promoting progressive issues in Kansas), the candidate’s website and other locations. The original release, edited to remove the speaking engagement (as it had already happened by this point), was then posted on the Kansas Democratic Party’s website and on Facebook as a note from the candidate.

This information was then promoted by our network of volunteers and friends.

This massive groundswell not only motivated our base by keeping them involved in the campaign, but it better positioned us on the Eagle’s radar. Their staff uses Facebook, they use Twitter, and they saw the endless stream of posts about the candidate. A week after the initial press release, an article on the candidate appeared on the Wichita Eagle’s blog. The next day, a Tuesday (one of the highest readership days for newspapers), it was featured in both the print edition of the Eagle and on the Eagle’s website.

In conclusion, our campaign was able to utilize new media to create a groundswell of support. That support pushed a humdrum press release, announcing the candidacy of a Kansas Democrat in a small district, into a featured story on one of the best read days of the largest newspaper in the state. We were then able to leverage the Eagle story in funding campaigns and volunteer recruitment.


Original Press Release:

Whipple for Kansas Logo

Brent Arnold, Director of Communications
Whipple for Kansas House of Representatives
(316) 290-9447


Brandon Whipple Announces Candidacy for KS House, District 96

Wichita resident Brandon Whipple announced this week that he is running for the Kansas House of Representatives in Wichita’s District 96. Whipple is deeply involved in the community, working with at-risk students from the Wichita Public Schools. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Wichita State University.

Whipple’s experience working with students and teachers gives him a unique perspective on the Kansas budget. “Our state’s founding fathers wrote the Kansas constitution with the intent to make public education our state’s top priority,” said Whipple. “Even in times of crisis, our legislature must support education.”

Whipple went door-to-door meeting with more than 200 families, collecting enough signatures to be placed on the ballot. “To be on the ballot you either need public support or you pay a fee to the election commission. Our campaign is about the community, and I chose to enter this election with the support of my neighbors.” said Whipple.

The candidate will be speaking at the annual “Ham and Bean Dinner” hosted by the South Sedgwick County Democratic Club. The event is from 5 to 7 p.m., April 10, at the Machinist Building, 3830 S. Meridian.

More information about Brandon Whipple can be found on his  campaign website,, or by calling him at 316-290-9447.