The difference between posted direct mail and door drop

What is the difference between Posted Direct Mail and Door Drop?

Posted Direct Mail

A posted direct mail campaign is delivered to specific houses and business locations.  It’s usually addressed to occupants at that address.

If you hold information on your target audience, you can create what are known as variable direct mail items.  These are direct mail marketing messages using text, images and offers tailored to those who are most likely to be responsive.  This is achieved by variable digital printing in which data is merged with the printing process, very much like a much more sophisticated Microsoft Word document, and the result is a personalised direct mail.

In other words, Direct mail needs to be ‘data-driven’. Direct Mail Campaigns are much more effective if the data held by the marketer can be made directly relevant to each recipient.  For example: Where the recipient is known to have engaged with the company in some way and that information can be used to re-engage; or where the recipient lives in a specific type of house or has a specific social status. These high quality campaigns usually combine the talents of a marketing agency and a direct mail house, due to the need for data manipulation experience and sophisticated direct mail printing press technology.

Door Drops (sometimes called Literature Drops)

A door drop marketing campaign is the delivery of non-addressed items to every building within a specific geographical area.

However, door drops suffer by comparison with addressed direct mail due to the lack of a targeted audience.  They do save time and are usually cheaper to produce, but marketers that use this method are resorting to a scatter-gun approach, and the wrong audience could potentially be receiving your marketing material. This, in turn, means that a much bigger coverage is needed to obtain the same result.

On the other hand, a door drop is particularly good for covering a defined geographic area for legal reasons, or to promote a venue, so for instance, it would be great for building planning communications or a local event. The information is known to be delivered to every household, no mail will be returned, and there’s no requirement to Mailing Preference Service suppress the mail – so you can reach every household… But all communications are too generic titles such as The Resident, Householder or The Occupant so there’s no way to increase the targeting.

Understanding the economics of both routes to market.

Understanding the direct response rate performance of both direct mail marketing and door drops is essential if you are to plan, brief and deliver your campaign accurately.

Marketers usually find that the buying cost, per thousand of contacts (CPT), is higher when creating direct mail marketing than for door drops. This simply means that you need to gain a higher response rate from direct mail marketing to enjoy the same sort of cost per response as from door drops.

This is because as the cost of buying audience increases, the amount of audience you can buy for the same budget decreases at a corresponding rate.

By way of example, let’s take some figures and explain how marketers can come to grips with which channel they should choose:

IF Objective Target is a cost per response is £10

IF Company budget of £250,000

THEN you need to generate 25,000 leads (£250,000 / 25,000 = £10)

SO how many contacts can we buy for £250,000?  What will the response rate have to be to generate 25,000 leads?


IF Royal Mail Unaddressed Door drop costs are £50 per ‘000

THEN you can buy 5m contacts with your £250,000 budget


NEED a response rate of 0.5% to achieve 25,000 leads at £10 per lead (25,000 / 5m = 0.5%)

IF Royal Mail Addressed Direct Mail marketing costs are £500 per ‘000

THEN you can buy 500,000 contacts with your £250,000 budget


NEED a response rate of 5% to achieve 25,000 leads at £10 per lead (25,000 / 500k = 5%)

Okay… So what does this example mean in reality?

Well… It demonstrates that both door drops and direct mail marketing can deliver the same cost per response, and it also shows that both door drops and direct mail have the capability to achieve similar aims.

But it’s critical to recognise that door drops are better suited to some direct marketing tasks and direct mail campaigns to others.


By understanding the statistical methodology and the economic ramifications of the response rates, marketers can choose the approach that best suits their budgetary circumstances, depth of data quality, and personal and professional targets.  Remember… It’s not the cost per item that’s the important part. It’s the possible return that can be achieved from the audience and whether the quality of data will enable a higher return from a more targeted approach, or whether a less targeted but greater volume will be needed to compensate for the lack of viable, relevant customer knowledge.

Both Door Drops and Direct Mail can be delivered by Royal Mail or alternative postal handlers (please ask Washington Direct Mail for more details).

For more guidance on your next Direct Mail campaign or Door Drop call Washington Direct Mail (WDM) on 0191 487 5148, and we’ll help you optimise your marketing journey.

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