Is B2B Direct Mail Dead?
by Traci Polifka • 2 minute read • November 5, 2014
Marketing has basically been around forever. And just like everything else in this world, it, too, has been changing and evolving since it first began. One of the most recent and significant of these changes was spurred by the invention of the internet, which has forced marketers to reexamine almost every traditional form of advertising. Some say that certain methods are dying, or maybe that they're already even dead. But are those traditional methods really gone for good?
One of those “old” methods is direct mail. And since we're a B2B company, we were wondering, what about B2B direct mail? Are companies still using it? Is it still effective now that everyone’s using email? Should you be using it?
To answer those questions, let’s first look at the facts.
What do the stats say?
- As of August 2013, direct mail remained the largest single direct marketing expenditure, followed by teleservices, at $41.2 million.
- Targeted B2B direct mail has a response rate of 4.4%, while email’s rate is only .12%.
- Four-fifths (79%) of consumers say they will act on direct mail immediately compared to only 45% who say they will deal with email straightaway.
- 12% of direct marketers surveyed say they intend to decrease direct mail spend in 2013.
- Spending on direct mail in 2013 is expected to decline by .9% to $44.8 billion, while all digital marketing is expected to rise by 5.9% to $137.2 billion.
What I gather from those facts is that direct mail is not dead—yet. While it is obviously still being used and is still working in many cases, companies seem to be wanting to do less of it. But, why is that?
So, what's the deal?
It could be that direct mail is more expensive when compared to email marketing (at least initially). Sending emails is cheap. But that also means that more of them are sent. Which means a lot more noise for the consumer. The fact that emails are cheap is also why spammers love to send them, which makes consumers a little more wary of them. An Epsilon study found that 25% of consumers found direct mail offers more trustworthy than email offers. People believe they get more junk in their email inbox than in their actual mailbox. And although direct mail is more expensive at first, it has the potential for a much higher ROI in the end, if done right.
Companies may also want to stray from direct mail for the simple reason that it seems to be outdated. With our high-tech lifestyles, it’s easy to assume that something like “snail mail” should be a thing of the past. But if it still works, why stop? According to Yory Wurmser, director of marketing and media insights at the DMA, direct mail has a response rate of up to 10 to 30 times that of email, depending on how you crunch the numbers.
Could B2B direct mail help your company?
Since everyone is suffering from email overload, it may be a nice change of pace for a piece of direct mail to wind up in the hands of a CEO, rather than another email stuffed in his inbox. It could really make you stand out from the crowd. It also gives you an opportunity to be more personal. Personal sentiment is often lost in the business world, so to receive something well thought-out and original could be refreshing.
Now, how do you make it work?
There are a few ways to pull off B2B direct mail effectively. However, because the marketing world has changed, the way we go about direct mail is going to look differently than it used to. Instead of focusing on direct mail as it’s own separate platform, we can actually use direct mail in a way that encourages and drives digital interaction, meshing direct mail and online marketing together. If done correctly, it can have a huge impact on your entire campaign as a whole. So, here’s how to correctly go about your direct mail:
- Go for a targeted audience rather than a mass mailing list. This will ensure you’ve got the right content going to the right people. It will also allow you to be more personal with your message.
- Ensure your mail will be seen by the right person. Just like email inboxes have spam filters, corporate mailrooms get rid of mail that looks like junk to prevent unnecessary clutter for executives. To make sure your mail gets to the head honcho:
- Address it to the specific person—not just the company or their job title.
- Use a standard envelope size (if possible).
- Use a regular postage stamp as opposed to bulk rate.
- Make your headline catchy—even if it does make it to the executive’s desk, you need something that will hold their attention.
- Create a plan for your mailers that includes not only your message, but several digital activities that will encourage the customer to be online. Make sure to include a call-to-action—tell them to visit your website or social media platform and include an email address.
While some people will still say that direct mail is dying, it looks like it’s not going to go down without a fight. According to the facts, it can still work for your company. And, if done correctly, it can give a big boost to your online marketing plan, too (a double bonus). So don’t give up on it just yet! Just like any marketing method, following the right steps will lead to results..