Design Print

Direct Mail | Does It Work Anymore?

Jewish Direct Mail for Non-Profits

When it comes to sending direct mail to potential donors, attendee’s, and prospects, are you getting the best return on your investment these days? With numerous email, insert, and direct marketing tools targeting the Jewish market, perhaps it pays to take another look at direct mailings for targeting the Jewish market.

(We’ll get into the intricacies of the Jewish market receiving mail on Shabbat as well, a big issue to consider)

Well, let’s go to the direct mail stats to start. According to the Direct Marketing Association‘s recent findings:

  • Response rates for Direct Mail have held steady over the past four years.  Letter-sized envelopes, for instance, had a response rate this year of 3.42 percent for a house list and 1.38 percent for a prospect list. 
  • Catalogs had the lowest cost per lead/order of $47.61, just ahead of inserts at $47.69, email at $53.85, and postcards $75.32. 

Overall, what this translates into is that Jewish non-profits sending direct mail to your list, in house or purchased lists, has an extremely low rate of return – less than 4%. Even less when prospecting. That doesn’t sound too successful. I think of it not just as succeeding 4% of the time but also as striking out 96% of the time. That’s after spending a nice amount of money on printing costs, collating, postage, and follow up. Note also that many Jewish organizations DON’T do follow up, perhaps one of the most important parts in fundraising and business development. Shelling out thousands of dollars on a mailing, a few thousand more on a prospect list, and sending without follow through just doesn’t seem like a prudent choice of marketing these days.

But what’s the alternatives here? For the Jewish market, there are plenty. First, let’s examine another interesting find by the DMA:

  • Email to a house list averaged:  a 19.47 percent open rate; a 6.64 percent click-through rate; a 1.73 percent conversion rate; with a bounce-back rate of 3.72 percent and an unsubscribe rate of 0.77 percent. 

Email Marketing

If you have a choice between sending a large direct mail campaign and large email campaign, the choice is obvious – go for email. Email is instant, measurable, quantifiable, and can result in social sharing and instant results. Key line: instant results.

These days, not many people will simply receive a snail mail piece, read it, pick up the phone/go to their computer, find your site, and make a donation. However, sending an email with a “DONATE NOW” link or even a “TEXT to DONATE” option will lead to instant results. The key word here is INSTANT. The second key word is measurable. Going further, for the Jewish market, imagine getting the piece of mail on Shabbat – because many Jews aren’t using electronics, they lose the passion or focus of the mailing’s message as the day goes on (that’s even if they open mail, which many do not on Shabbat). And what’s the first thing they do when Shabbat ends? They check their email. Skip the mailing, go for the emailing lists.


One of the mainstays of the Jewish market will be their Jewish newspaper. Contrary to popular belief, ethnic and local community publications are alive and well in terms of audience and reach. Find a nicely circulated subscription-based paper and consider doing an insert instead of a mailing.

Jewish newspapers always have the advantage that they will be read every Sabbath weekend cover to cover. It will never change. Ads within are good, but if you want to tell more about your mission, go for an insert. Let’s compare the pricing – many newspapers have a rate between $80-$115 per thousand inserts (depending on weight). Even if you received a highly discounted postage rate of $.10 per letter, which will be quite rare with the USPS increasing non-profit postage rates, you’ll still pay less to do an insert. And the beauty of a Jewish newspaper is that you can target certain demographics – for example, The Jewish Press targets an Orthodox market, The Jewish Week targets an affluent Modern Orthodox market, The Jewish Standard targets Northern New Jersey, etc. You can target your message to the best prospects that can donate and spread the word. All at a price that beats postage costs.

Jewish Deals & Coupon Sites

I heard from a colleage I do business with that they decided to try a Jewish deal site to spread the word about their fundraising event. He expected a few extra responses to augment his attendance – instead he received 200 responses! Luckily, he had room at the event.

With a unique pricing plan that allows for zero upfront costs, Jewish deal sites are a very lucrative option for spreading the word about your mission, increasing attendance, building your social media, and obtaining donations. You’ll have to split the earnings from the Jewish deal sites, such as Jdeal, Kosher Kouponz, Jewpon, etc, but you’re still making money from the new donors at no upfront costs. One drawback is that previous donors/participants  may purchase a discounted deal in lieu of a full price donation/attendance fee but we think it’s stil a shot worth taking a few times, especially for innovative events with high ticket costs.

Especially now, since social media allows you to share your deal or email, these options are even more lucrative. Having a well-functioning Jewish social media page will do wonders for supplementing your online direct marketing efforts. You don’t have that with direct mail. Again, I have to go to the computer, and sign in, and etc etc etc.

Apps: This is a fourth option to consider if you have the budget for it. An app is a great instant way to increase donations instantly. Having anyone with a smartphone, which is probably everyone in the Greater New York area, download your App online will lead to instant communication and instant donations. This option requires more research on your target market and what works for them.

Don’t get me wrong.

If Jewish direct mail works for you, go with it. But don’t let anyone tell you that a 3% success rate on direct mail is valuable. We sure won’t! Especially when you can have a 19% success rate on an email. So for those organizations striking out in their direct mail, and many of them are indeed striking out, put your direct marketing dollars to work in other more cost-effective ways. The younger generation  of donors is demanding it! FIND OUT HOW…

Henry Isaacs Marketing
Welcome to Henry Isaacs Marketing | WE ARE A: Jewish Marketing, Design & Advertising Agency OUR MOTTO: Strategy First. Creativity Always. Successful marketing starts with great strategy. Creativity is what brings that strategy to life.We do both. We blend market insight, expert strategy & creative design into an effective and integrated marketing gameplan. That mission has served us well. And our clients even better. | | 646.833.8604
You may also like
Ditch the Designer. Get a Marketer | Jewish Marketing 101 | Henry Isaacs Marketing
Ditch the Designer. Get a Marketer.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: