Can direct mail still deliver in a digital world?

Are DMs dated? Kerrie Malone explains why they're not and how they can even drive more leads than digital

Our world is becoming increasingly digital, and as B2B marketers, it’s never been easier for us to reach our audiences online. The ease, speed and relatively low cost of online marketing is leading some businesses to move away from traditional media to focus on digital channels – but B2B organisations should think twice before they dismiss direct mail.

Now we can send an email that will land in our audience’s inbox in seconds, ‘snail mail’ might seem obsolete. However, recent research has found that half of B2B buyers prefer to be contacted by direct mail, so if it’s not in your marketing strategy, you risk losing leads.

Direct mail has been around for so long that we all have our preconceptions about it – but here are some common myths about direct mailers that it’s important to challenge:

1. Direct mail is not engaging

A common misconception about direct mail is that people simply throw it in the bin. It’s true, there will always be some recipients that throw away DMs without looking at them – just as you can always expect a certain percentage of emails to go unopened.

However, the average response rate for direct mail is around 4.4%, which is impressive when compared with the average 0.12% response rate for emails. To ensure you get as many responses as possible, make it as easy as possible for recipients to reply – try including a freepost envelope or create a unique URL on your site with a simple landing page to encourage leads.

In early 2017, The Marketing Pod worked with SES Business Water to deliver a direct mail campaign aimed at cross-selling to their existing customers, and they achieved an incredible 26% response rate. We were also still receiving responses months after the DMs were sent out, which demonstrates another benefit of sending physical mail – people often hold on to it. Even if they don’t respond straightaway, they might be prompted to later.

2. Direct mail is outdated

Direct mail may be one of the more traditional forms of marketing, but it’s evolved over time. There are a number of interesting innovations you can use to make sure your direct mail campaigns are engaging for today’s audience.

Many of these innovations involve integrating the customer’s online and offline experiences. For example, thanks to the explosion of big data you can send out direct mail to website visitors that have failed to convert in as little as 12 hours. Some businesses are also experimenting with augmented reality by enabling users to scan a code on the DM with their phone to ‘see’ their products in the room with them.

There’s also been a lot of buzz around video, and this is a trend that you can incorporate into your campaigns with video mailers. While they’re more costly than a regular text DM, including a video in your mailer should make it stand out and grab the recipient’s attention. If you’re carrying out an ABM campaign, sending out customised video DMs to your chosen key accounts is a great way to make them feel special. 

3. Direct mail is too difficult to track

Now that we’re collecting big data on everyone that interacts with our brand, we’re accustomed to reviewing detailed analytics on all of our campaigns. Being able to measure our marketing efforts like this is undoubtedly very useful.

Obviously you can’t use Google Analytics to track direct mail but that doesn’t mean you can’t measure its effectiveness. Simply including a unique campaign code or phone number on your DMs will enable you to track how many leads are contacting you as a result of your DM campaign. You could even get more inventive with QR codes and hashtags because including a call-to-action that encourages recipients to interact with your brand online will increase your reach even further.

The Pod's tips to driving leads with DMs:

  1. Make it easy for recipients to reply – include a clear CTA and contact information.
  2. Take the personal approach – it’s so easy to customise direct mail now that there’s no excuse not to!
  3. Integrate your direct mail with your digital marketing to create a truly engaging experience for your audience.

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