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Reaching your customers | Why direct mail is such a big opportunity for B2B marketers

Simon Hinks of PMA provides a business case for using a postage stamp for your marketing, rather than just pressing send.

Most businesses are using digital channels for their marketing because it’s relatively cheap and easy to deliver. This actually is the problem. Our business email boxes are full of messages, many of which are deleted even before they’ve been read. It’s becoming more difficult to create breakthrough in the B2B field.

We did have a slight reprieve when


came into play 12 months ago. A swathe of companies used consent as their lawful basis to process data (mostly incorrectly). This meant they had to ask you to positively opt-in. It gave us the opportunity to opt-out or not reply and so clean out our mailboxes. But slowly the volume of emails has started to creep back up.

So, what about

direct mail

? Does it have a place in the marketing mix? Is it a real contender in the B2B space for investing some of your marketing budget?

GDPR is a big opportunity

When GDPR came into force, many companies wrongly thought they would need to request consent from their customers to be able to continue to market to them.

What GDPR actually means for B2B companies is if you have customers who have bought from you in the past, you can contact them about similar products and services.

But companies believed that they couldn’t email their customers or their leads without consent and so email deliveries dropped off. To ensure they continued to fill the sales funnel many companies went back to using direct mail as some had read about

“legitimate interest”

as a way of continuing to market their goods.

In addition, if you have customers who have not bought from you but are classed as a lead, you can sell to them through direct mail. In each of these cases you just need to provide a route to opt-out.

A more effective way to track your marketing

If campaigns are delivered correctly, all direct mail is trackable. This means you will know what works for you. If you’re carrying out a creative test, you will know which creative packs are working best. For different segments of customers and non-customers on the database, you will know which segment is most responsive and which are most valuable.

In terms of ROI, for every pound you spend on direct mail you will know the return from all responses. Not every marketing channel can provide such detailed measurement. This can make for a very strong business case when asking for more marketing budget.

Integrate your marketing for better results

Direct mail in my experience works very well with other marketing activity. It’s not uncommon to send a direct mail piece out and follow it up with either an email or telephone call, and it’s not uncommon for responses to double this way.

As part of a brand building and response campaign you would create the “halo effect” or an uplift in response rates generated through the use of other media going out about the same time.

To prove this point: A recent research study from MarketReach (the Royal Mail’s direct marketing arm) looked at the “Halo” effect of using direct mail to support other media.

The results showed that mail works well alongside other channels. In particular with the digital channels, where they complement each other. It was also found that direct mail can directly influence digital behaviours.

As a direct result of receiving mail:

  • 92% have been driven to online or digital activity
  • 87% have been influenced to make online purchases
  • 86% have connected with a business online
  • 54% have engaged in social media
  • 43% have downloaded something.

It seems to suggest direct mail does work with other media, which means as a business you need to consider direct mail as part of your mix.

The digital generation likes direct mail

Now, common sense would suggest to you that younger people like to receive messages through the electronic devices they use, phones, ipads etc. However it has been shown by research from the US that the Millennials segment of 18-24 year olds and 25-34 year olds, on average, respond to direct mail quicker than any other age group. They are also more likely to reply to a direct mail piece a week quicker than any other generation.

It also found that 63% of millennials who responded to a direct mail piece within a three-month timeframe went on to make a purchase. Which means direct will appeal to most age groups but in different ways.

This is great if you believe it, as it suggests you have an opportunity to talk about your products and services to Millennials in a less crowded environment through direct mail. I would suggest a strategy of test and learn will tell you which age group appeals most to your product proposition.


Hopefully you found some of what I have written of use but if there is something I would like you to take away that is:

“Direct mail never went away, now is a good time to bring it back into your marketing mix, you could be pleasantly surprised by what it can do for your business”


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