UX Challenge: Design a service that tracks open rate for direct mail marketing



Snail-Mail marketing works, however, the tracking sucks. If marketers could find a way to track opens of mails, they would be improve their strategy way better.
Here are some stats from 2017 for mail marketing:

[## Direct Mail Still Gets the Best Response

  1. Direct mail household response rate is 5.1% (compared to .6% email, .6% paid search, .2% online display, .4% social media). This is the highest response rate the DMA has ever reported, since coming out with the Response Rate Report in 2003.1
  2. Direct mail median household return on investment is 29% (compared to 124% email, 23% paid search, 16% online display, 30% social media).1
  3. At 6.6%, oversized envelopes have the greatest household response rates over other mediums (followed by postcards at 5.7% and letter-sized envelopes at 4.3%).1
  4. At 37%, oversized envelopes have the greatest household return on investment over other mediums (followed by postcards and letter-sized envelopes at 29%).1
  5. The response rate for direct mail among people aged 18-21 years old is 12.4%.1
  6. The top response rate tracking methods are online tracking such as PURLs (61%), call center or telephone (53%), and code or coupon (42%).1
  7. For every $167 spent of direct mail in the US, marketers sell $2095 in goods.2

The Bottom Line – Direct mail has the greatest impact because it offers a tangible experience for the customer. Oversized pieces stand out the most.](https://compu-mail.com/blog/2017/07/14/30-direct-mail-statistics-for-2017/)

How can we enable tracking for mail marketing and help improve the tactics?


No way exists to track opens of mail marketing


Design a service for a snail-mail marketer that enables them to do better targeting by tracking the open rate.

[Image Credit: https://letterhub.com/direct-mail-marketing-isnt-dead-2018/]


Given that today’s smart phones are capable of scanning QR codes, the tracking service could enable the marketers to digitize the copy of their marketing letters and save it on a server that generates a URL for the content. This URL could be encoded into QR code and can be printed on the envelope saying “Read the contents of the letter without opening up the envelope”. When users scan the QR code and get redirected to the contents of the letter, the server can easily track the opens for each customer.

This data could be really useful in tailoring the newsletter to customers who show more interest in opening up the letter.

E.g. a marketer from Target’s furniture department wants to send marketing newsletter to people in San Francisco. Here is what she could do:

  1. Digitize the marketing newsletter
  2. For each recipient, personalize the newsletter and upload it to target.com’s server and get the generated URL (e.g. https://www.target.com/departments/marketing/furniture/newsletter?recipient_id=abcXYZSanFranciso)
  3. Generate QR code for each URL and put it on envelopes assigned to the recipient.
  4. Mail the newsletters out.
  5. Observe the clickthrough rates for each QR code and make decisions based on who clicked on the QR code.


This is such an innovative solution. I wonder why nobody thought of it.


This is very hard to solve because tracking requires network and direct mails are far removed from internet.
However there are ways to bridge the gap and all depends upon how markets use innovative ideas to bridge this gap. Here is what I propose:

  1. On every printed newsletter include a code that is unique to each recipient.
  2. Disguise the code in the form of a surprise giveaway, or entry to a raffle.
  3. The recipient needs to go to the suggested website and enter the code to be eligible for the giveaway/raffle.
  4. Once the enter the code, marketers can track the open rate

The above solution can help them tailor the contents of the newsletter.


Thanks. In fact each item in the marketing newsletter can have a QR code which may eventually be trackable. The marketers will know exactly which item a particular user is interested in.


@uxaspirant, @ruxtar your solutions are quite innovative. Thanks for sharing.


Declared Winning Post. Congrats @uxaspirant