Direct Mail is Making a Comeback

It seems that email marketing, social media marketing and online marketing are grabbing most of the attention in recent years.  Many people think direct mail marketing is an outdated concept. Not so fast - Direct mail is enjoying something of a renaissance thanks in part to (surprise!) young consumers. Here's what you need to know to make direct mail work for you.

Business to Businesss

study by Demand Gen Report reported that B2B marketers are planning to incorporate more direct mail into their marketing efforts in the coming year.

Only 15 percent of study respondents are currently using direct mail, but that number is projected to grow. One marketer recently told Demand Gen that her company's direct mail efforts enjoy a 10 to 15 percent conversion rate. The study found that direct mail is a successful conversion driver - in fact, 21 percent of marketers say it's their most effective conversion method.

B2B marketers find direct mail an effective way to stand out from other businesses because today's buyers are so swamped with email they can barely clear their inboxes. But sending out direct mail like businesses used to year ago won't do you much good. Today, to make direct mail work for B2B:

  • Use direct mail later in the sales funnel. It works best as a nurturing tactic, rather than as a lead generation tool. You should use digital methods to drive leads, and then follow up on those leads with direct mail.
  • Tailor the direct mail piece to the prospect's interests, needs and stage in the sales journey. You get this information from how they have engaged with your business online, such as what content they've viewed or downloaded from your website, how they interact with you on social media and what sites referred them to your website.
  • Consider developing a mix-and-match packet of direct mail pieces that can be combined to suit the needs of different types of prospects at different stages in the game. This keeps your costs manageable while providing flexibility.

Business to Consumer

In the B2C environment, direct mail is working well for a surprising target market: consumers aged 9 to 21. Research for this age group shows that physical mail from companies isn't annoying junk mail, but a rare treat. In fact, 83 percent of this age group say they 'love getting stuff in the mail,' reports new research from Mintel.

Mintel dubs this group the iGeneration or iGen and has some theories about why direct mail works so well with them. They love social media, but think of it as a place to connect with others and be entertained, not a place to be marketed to. They also value personal connections; a direct mail piece that feels more personal than a digital missive can help build a connection with your brand.

To make direct mail work for younger consumers:

  • Think visually. This age group is visually oriented - they're used to communicating with gifs, selfies and emojis. Your mail piece needs to grab attention without using a lot of words. Postcards, colorful mailers and big graphics will spark their interest.
  • Embrace diversity. iGen is a culturally diverse group, so your images should reflect that reality.
  • Keep it personal. Build relationships by sending direct mail around personal dates such as birthdays or the anniversary of a purchase.

For both of these target markets, the biggest key to success is to incorporate direct mail into an integrated marketing approach.  This should include email, online marketing, social media and (for B2B) phone calls. All of these channels should reinforce each other's messages to help build lasting customer relationships.

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