Direct Mail Marketing Overview

What is Direct Mail Marketing?

Direct mail marketing is a strategy used by marketers to engage prospects and customers offline by sending printed mailers, dimensional packages, perishable items, corporate swag, or other physical items. It is leveraged in a variety of ways by marketers of all types, including inbound and outbound sales teams, marketing departments, demand generation teams, growth teams, recruiters, and more. Direct mail marketing is a valuable way to connect with prospects, leads, and clients in a meaningful way.

With the rise of digital media over the past two decades, marketers have increasingly turned to the power of digital communication to reach wider audiences. It makes sense: Consumers are more connected than ever, spending over five hours a day on smartphones according to research provided by Hubspot. Tech times reported that nearly half of Americans check their phones before they even get out of bed. As a result, consumers have experienced a surge in digital marketing.

This explosion in digital marketing, however, has caused a correlated increase in digital overwhelm. Nearly three-quarters of consumers say they feel overwhelmed by email advertising according to a study by Edison, and over one-quarter report using ad-blocking software to augment their digital experience, according to Statista.

With an increased aversion to digital advertising, marketers find themselves in fierce competition for attention, trying to serve an increasingly weary (and wary) audience. Rising above the noise is becoming more difficult. In response to this, an increasing number of marketers are sending their message where it can be clearly received—namely, to the mailbox.

Why Direct Mail Marketing Works

It works because unlike the digital clutter we’ve come to avoid, direct mail marketing taps into the positive psychology of receiving a physical gift. Direct mail marketing is a useful component of an overall marketing campaign because:

Direct Mail is Memorable

Direct mail is perhaps most memorable for the human touch; a handwritten note or a personally-chosen item can create positive emotional connections, more so than a standardized corporate gift.

Direct Mail Has a Better Response Rate

Because of this tactile engagement, direct mail marketing enjoys a response rate 30x higher than the most powerful digital channel, email. It has the power to boost ROI by 20% as part of an integrated campaign.

There’s Less Competition with Direct Mail

Direct mail is also notable for its rarity—with far fewer companies committing budget to tactile marketing. For this reason, a direct mail marketing item stands out from the crowd.

Direct Mail Offers Many Ways to be Creative

Direct mail creates limitless possibilities to delight and entertain recipients. Through a Sending Platform, marketers can deliver a variety of creatively-presented items: handwritten cards, innovative swag items, personalized gifts, sweets & treats, eGift cards, experience tickets, and more.

Creating a Direct Mail Campaign

Direct mail campaign is a highly valuable it terms of time and budget; however, implementing direct mail manually entails management of quite a few moving parts— namely in cost, packaging, and shipping. Fortunately, with some careful planning and a mindful approach, you can reap the rewards of a well-designed direct mail marketing campaign without breaking the bank or creating havoc in your reporting.

The results of direct mail marketing are compelling—it has the power to create direct connections with your most valuable contacts, with high response rates for relatively low investment. By implementing a few key tips and practices into your marketing strategy, you will be able to take full advantage of direct mail’s merits, and delight recipients with targeted, personalized offers that convert.

Learn how to create a direct mail campaign from start to finish here.

B2B Direct Mail Marketing

Nearly forty years after David Ogilvy touted the “secret weapon” of direct mail, marketers are still making use of this powerful component of marketing to enhance their return and reach new clients and markets. This versatile touchpoint can be used to forge meaningful connections throughout the B2B marketing funnel. Its value in promoting brand awareness and creating demand is well-documented, and as relevant to the modern marketer as it was in it early years. 

It also finds a home in the marketing mix for different kinds of account-based marketing (ABM), to make connections between marketing and sales, engage decision-makers, and tip the scales on sales conversions. Learn more about the ways in which direct mail marketing can impact your B2B marketing efforts every stage of the customer lifecycle.

Automating Direct Mail Marketing

Since the heyday of printed direct mail cards, marketers have been looking for ways to create sophisticated automation processes and harness the power of direct mail marketing. Direct mail marketing campaigns are powerful, but implementing direct mail manually entails management of quite a few moving parts.

The manual process requires: campaign planning and design; sourcing and/or designing gift items, packing materials, and printed collateral; management of warehousing, tracking, shipment, delivery, response, and follow up; and demonstrating ROI after the send. Automating the direct mail marketing process with a Sending Platform the best way to get the most out of these campaigns without dedicating manual labor and team hours to the process. Learn more about automated direct mail here.

Direct Mail Marketing Costs

The individual costs of a direct mail marketing campaign can vary considerably, and might mushroom in the absence of a strong plan and budget. While sourcing an item is an important investment, the overall cost goes far beyond picking a gift to send. Some other components to consider in your marketing campaign include: The cost of printing for collateral and personalized printed items such as note cards; the cost of design for printed collateral and personalization; the cost of packaging; the price of shipping for each package; and the human capital invested in manually performing shipping, tracking, follow-up and reporting processes.

These investments are often better made in the form of direct mail marketing automation, which can save as many as 40 hours for a campaign, while aggregating campaign data and results in a streamlined format. To learn more about budgeting for your direct mail marketing costs, read this article.

How to Measure Direct Mail ROI

Once your campaign is in action, the next, most important part of the process is to understand its impact on your customer and the return on investment. Understanding the ROI of a well-executed campaign is vital to its success. How you measure ROI depends upon many factors: the specific goals of your campaign; the metrics by which you will measure success (for instance, response, conversion, close, or retention rates); and the monetary return of those conversions as part of the calculation.

While measuring ROI can seem tricky, using a Sending Platform to track response and calculate the overall success of your campaign can greatly improve your interaction with the campaign data. Check out our detailed guide for measuring direct mail ROI here.

Direct Mail Campaign Examples & Ideas

Great response and ROI begin with inspiring campaign ideas. With virtually unlimited options to engage with contacts, coming up with the perfect send can look different from campaign to campaign: clever, practical items that tie in with the spirit of your campaign; interesting experience items (like Audible or Spotify gift cards) that enhance daily life; whimsical mailers or decals that add a fun touch to a space; sweet treats that create a spontaneous moment of indulgence. Sending these “out of the box” items as part of a well-crafted campaign can create meaningful experiences for your recipients. Get some inspiration for B2B and B2C direct mail campaign examples here.

How to Personalize Direct Mail

Personalization is one of the more powerful aspects of the direct mail marketing value proposition. It creates a one-to-one connection with a recipient that cements the relationship in a far more compelling way than a simple piece of swag can offer. While personalization takes time to successfully implement, the return on that investment is credible.

Customers that are served with some level of personalization choose brands that personalize with more reliability, and invest more with them when they do. This personalization can take the form of a handwritten note with personalization that shows you’ve done your homework, and can continue with handsomely and carefully packaged items that resonate with your recipient on a personal level. While this type of personalization requires some sleuthing, the rewards in terms of customer acquisition and retention far outstrips the time invested. To learn more ways to nail direct mail personalization, click here.

What You Need for Successful Direct Mail

While there are many ways to create an impressive and successful send, the most effective direct mail marketing initiatives have some key factors in common.

Defined Audience

Before you plan a successful campaign, you need to gain clarity on who exactly the campaign will target, and ensure that those recipients will be ready and motivated to respond to your offer. Not only does this critical first step to ensure that your campaign will enjoy great results, it saves time and money by focusing on specific customers for the right reasons.

Call to Action

For recipients to respond to your offer, they need to know exactly what is requested, and how to respond. For this reason, defining a strong and clear Call to Action (CTA) can greatly improve your overall campaign success. It should be simple to follow, with clear directives, timelines, and expected results.

Tested Approach

A well-defined ideal customer profile becomes even more powerful when you create tests to support your campaign. Sending to a small batch of test recipients is an effective way to extrapolate data about your overall send. Doing so also allows you to evaluate areas in the process that could be strengthened. Testing is especially important in larger cities, in which there is a larger variety of customers.

Your testing method should also incorporate tracking (for instance, coupon codes) that can identify data points from the responses received. Having access to data can improve your current and future sending campaigns for relatively little additional effort.

Sending Platform

The manual process of direct mail marketing can be almost entirely eliminated with the use of a Sending Platform. It automates the process, allowing teams to focus on their areas of excellence instead of manual sending, inventory, and tracking. A Sending Platform will also automatically track and report ROI so that future budgeting and campaign management efforts can improve organically.

Things to Avoid in Direct Mail

Just as there are hallmarks of a successful direct mail marketing program, there are pitfalls and practices to be avoided. The examples below are all common mistakes in sending that can have a significant negative impact on your campaign and marketing spend.

Running a Campaign Without a Goal

Sending without a clear view of your customer is can quickly depreciate the value of your campaign, as it relies on luck to garner responses from recipients. Without thoughtful targeting and consideration during the planning stages of your campaign, you may well be delivering some portion of your items to customers who can’t benefit from your offer or aren’t in a position to take action. For example, sending out gas cards as an incentive to try a new location is only effective if you know your recipients use cars to get around.

Forgetting to Follow Up

After shipments have been delivered and responses recognized, there is still work to be done to maximize the success of your campaign. A great follow-up process captures the responses that don’t come on their own, greatly improving the return on your marketing budget and time investment. Follow up can also communicate to recipients that their engagement is truly sought and valued. Be sure to have a follow-up plan in place before packages go out the door.

Forgetting to Track Packages and Tie to Campaign(s)

Shipping out your direct mail pieces is only one part of the equation. To get the most out of your sending campaigns, you must track the package deliveries, tie them back to specific campaigns, and be able to track responses. This is another area that can be greatly streamlined through the use of a Sending Platform.

Manually Packing Boxes

The time it takes to manually pack a direct mail marketing piece is considerable; this time is much better spent on other, revenue-generating activities. For this reason, using a Sending Platform to ship and track packages is a far more effective way of reaching recipients.

Make Direct Mail Marketing Work for You

Using the information and processes outlined in this overview, you’ll have the knowledge necessary to create, track, and send truly engaging campaigns, rise above the clutter and noise of the digital marketplace, and greatly improve the return on your marketing spend.

If you’d like to learn more about the power of direct mail marketing, or you’re ready to explore the power of a Sending Platform, schedule your demo today.

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