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Categories: Best Practices, Marketing,

In an age of digital marketing, big data, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and all things technological, direct mail might seem like a thing of the past. It’s not just a question of what’s fashionable; direct mail marketing is a lot costlier and requires significantly more effort than running online ads or sending emails. When you’re under pressure to show results quickly, it’s tempting to go with those simpler, cheaper and faster options.

More importantly, many B2B marketers in particular struggle to achieve meaningful ROI from direct mail campaigns, in large part due to difficulties getting the right data on their target audiences. While it’s true that the same struggles exist for other marketing channels like email or online ads, in those cases (particularly email) the cost of failure is far lower than sending a piece of quality, physical direct mail to the wrong person, or the wrong address.

But despite that, direct mail is still a highly effective medium in its own right. Direct mail marketing is a great way to engage prospects or turn existing customers into brand advocates, as part of a wider marketing campaign or strategy.

Here are three particularly significant advantages of direct mail marketing:

1. It’s super-effective

First thing’s first: despite the bad rap it sometimes gets, direct mail gets results.

According to a 2012 study by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), direct mail generates a 4.4% response rate. Anyone reading this who’s ever run an email campaign will know that’s pretty impressive — and they’d be right. According to the same study, emails on average achieved response rates of just 0.12%!

The study notes that a major reason for this is that whereas our email inboxes have become incredibly noisy and filled with spam (how many unread emails do you have right now in your inbox that you’re simply ignoring, or will eventually delete without ever opening?), direct mail simply has less noise to contend with, so we tend to notice each piece more than we would an email.

That trend only appears to be strengthening. When the Data & Marketing Association conducted a similar survey in 2016, they found that customer response rates stood at 5.3%, while prospect response rates were 2.9%. That represented an increase of 1.6% and 1.9% respectively from the previous year.

Related Article: How to Prepare for an Email Nurturing Campaign

What’s more, the DMA survey revealed that while email is still head and shoulders above all other channels (again, unsurprising given the low cost), direct mail is a very strong performer, with an average ROI of 29%. That’s significantly more than paid search and online display ads, and pretty much on-par with social media marketing.

Direct Mail Marketing ROI

When you consider that the “average” B2B marketers also struggles with poor data — which for direct mail inevitably means that a significant portion don’t make it to their target in the first place — it’s clear that the potential ROI for direct mail is actually a lot higher.

Our marketing team here at Leadspace can definitely vouch for that: One direct marketing campaign we ran achieved a whopping 450% ROI! Using real-time data enrichment to ensure we had all the right information (including correct addresses), and then adding a layer of predictive intelligence to know which prospects were most likely to buy, we increased our average deal size by 25%.

Which just goes to show: with the right data and intelligence supporting creative, personalized campaigns, direct mail marketing can be devastatingly effective.

2. It’s Personal

Nothing says “personal” like a physical, tangible piece of mail — all the better if there’s a handwritten or personalized element to it as well.

Marketers today love to talk about “personalization”. They know personalized engagement is central to any effective marketing campaign. But, as The State of Engagement report illustrates, the majority of buyers still believe brands aren’t doing enough to align their content with customers’ engagement preferences.

The irony is that by relying so heavily on digital channels like online ads and emails — with their blindingly incessant stream of content — many marketers are condemning their content to remain distinctly impersonal.

Direct mail is much more attention-grabbing — or at least has the potential to be so if executed correctly.

According to a 2015 study by the UK Royal Mail, many people are now reverting back to direct mail because “giving, receiving and handling tangible objects remain deep and intuitive parts of the human experience.” For example, 60% of respondents said direct mail communications left a more lasting impression on them, while 57% said it made them feel more valued, and establishes a more authentic relationship than other channels.

3. It’s longer-lasting

It’s not just the tangibility per se of direct mail that leaves a greater impression. In practice, direct mail is an excellent opportunity to send prospects things they will actually keep for the long-term — and remember you by.

Even something as simple as a coffee or beer mug can have a significant long-term impression. Every time you drink from it you’ll see the logo, the message, the brand. All the more so if you add a fun twist to it…

(Disclaimer: This was actually swag from one of our events earlier this year, not direct mail — but same idea!)

With just a little extra creativity you can expand that impact even further. For example, delivering a big box of popcorn or chocolate to a customer/prospect’s office, complete with your branding, all but guarantees that your company or product will be a topic of conversation.

The more creative you get with your gifts, the higher the impact — although of course this can also make things costlier, so think carefully before going overboard!

Coupons or special offers are another great way of “sticking around” in your prospect’s mind. People don’t usually cash in a coupon as soon as they get it, or immediately buy something on their phone the moment they see a special offer. This is particularly true in a B2B context, where buying decisions typically take weeks if not months. Instead, they’ll stick it on their fridge or desk, or pin it on a noticeboard somewhere to get back to later. In the meantime, particularly if the offer is enticing enough, they’ll keep it top-of-mind and maybe even discuss it with others.

Coupons and special offers are also particularly effective because they relate directly to your offering, going beyond brand awareness and encouraging people to actually consider what problems you solve and why they might, in fact, really need you. Of course, this also means (again, particularly since we’re talking B2B) that you have to consider very carefully who you send them to — specifically, you’ll want to make sure they’re somehow involved in the buying process.

To get direct mail marketing right, you need to know who your ideal customers are, and how to engage with them effectively.

Find out how B2B marketers are using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to cut through the noise and reach their best prospects — download our free white paper:

4 Leading B2B Brands Increasing Pipeline & Conversions with AI - Leadspace

Image credit: dh_creative for Pixabay | CC0 Public Domain

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