Research: Handwritten direct mail attracts higher responses than other direct mail methods

Handwritten Direct Mail in Marketing


For a number of years, handwritten direct mail has been helping business owners improve brand loyalty and trust. Today, electronic communications have become the preferred method of communicating with customers due to its convenience; but according to research, mail recipients respond better to personalized handwritten mail. What’s more, is that studies have also proven that handwritten direct mail is still effective at increasing response rates, regardless of industry.

Examples of Studies that used Handwritten Direct Mail to get Higher Response Rates

A study aimed at increasing physician responses to surveys, found that personalizing mailings using handwritten notes resulted in higher response rates. They also determined that including incentives with personalized mail increased the likelihood of the physicians responding.

In another example, several studies tested the impact of personalized cover letters sent to physicians to measure the probability of participation. Three studies(PDF) found that a personalized cover letter and/or including a handwritten note resulted in significantly higher response rates (Leece et al.,2006; Maheux, Legault, & Lambert, 1989; Olson et al., 1993). The reason physicians admitted to not replying to surveys was they didn’t have the time to fill them out. Including personalized cover letters with the surveys encouraged the physicians to find the time to complete them. This could be because they understood the time and effort it took to write a letter or note, and believed completing the survey was the least they could do.

While studies have proven that sending emails to customers in conjunction with handwritten direct mail can be beneficial, relying on email as the only direct mail method can affect response rates. Statistics show that American’s still prefer receiving personal communications. According to a 2005 Greeting Card Association Study, “64% of Americans prefer receiving handwritten personal communications to electronic communications.”

And in a mail open-ability study conducted by Pitney Bowes in 1998, it was discovered that handwritten envelopes were the form of mail most likely to be opened in seven different study factors.

Using Handwritten Direct Mail for your Business to Increase Response Rates

As the studies above have proven, you stand a better chance at getting higher response rates with handwritten direct mail than any other direct mail method. One reason handwritten direct mail is more effective is because it resembles personal mail that recipients receive from friends and family. Recipients understand the time and effort it takes to select the right words to write in your letter or that you have chosen to hand-address the envelope versus using laser printed fonts. In fact, even including something as simple as a handwritten Post-It note in your direct mail can increase response rates significantly.

Robert Cialdini explained the power of a simple Post-It in his book, “Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive.” In an example testing the effectiveness of a handwritten note, three types of printed letters were mailed out; a single printed letter, a printed letter with a handwritten message, and a printed letter with a handwritten message on a Post-It note. The plain printed letter received a 36% response rate. When the handwritten note was added to the printed letter, it improved response rates by 48%. The method that proved to be the most effective was adding a handwritten Post-It note which resulted in a doubled response rate of 75%.

Are you looking for ways to include handwritten direct mail in your next campaign to increase response rates? Letter Friend can help. Our staff of writers are experienced in creating handwritten direct mail and can do the same for you.

To inquire about how we can help your business in your next campaign, fill out our Free Quote and we will get in touch to work with you today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *