Recently, I received a letter from a Direct Marketing Update reader regarding mailing frequency. Take a look:
“Hi Craig,
“I enjoy your newsletter. We are trying to set up a frequency test for our direct mail program and I was wondering if you had any best practices you could share.
“We presently mail to our current customers every 6.5 weeks. We are wondering how to set up a test to see if perhaps we should be mailing them more or less frequently.
“Do you have any suggestions on how to structure a test for frequency?
Thanks for the great question. It’s a question a lot of direct marketers have. You don’t want to bombard prospects, but you also don’t want to miss out on potential sales. How often is too often?
I have two main thoughts here:
First, 6.5 weeks between mailings seems too long. Since I don’t know your product or service, it’s tough to say for certain, but if you’re truly taking advantage of your upsell, and cross-sell possibilities… and you’re varying different elements of your mailings (format, offer, copy, art, philosophy), it’s possible to send out mailings more frequently and not bombard your prospects.
In the end, the marketplace will always tell you. I’ll get to that in a moment.
Second, do all of your direct mail efforts have value and content – benefits to your customer – even if they read the mailing and don’t reply? This is an overlooked essential to maximize loyalty and sales.
You asked about setting up a test. Here are some ideas:
First, select a portion of your list – say 10,000 prospects. If your list is smaller than 10,000, just mail the entire list.
Then, send out your mailings at varying intervals. First at 6.5 weeks, then perhaps reduce it to 3 or 4 weeks. Experiment with your timing. Then analyze your response rates.
Depending on the size of your list, price point, etc., your test may take 6-12 months to give a clear picture.
What you’re looking for is:

  1. Cost – What does it cost you to increase your mailings?
  2. Profitability – Are more frequent mailings bringing higher profits?
  3. Response rate – Are prospects responding more… or becoming annoyed and tossing your mailings?
  4. Complaints/Cancellations – If your mailings are a nuisance, prospects will tell you.

As I said before, the marketplace will always tell you. Sometimes less is more. But sometimes more is too much. Testing is always your best bet. I hope that helps.
If you have a question/ comment or need help with a campaign, email me at or call me at (310) 212-5727.