The B2B Marketing Mix: Direct Mail Campaigns

Time to kick it old school. Direct mail as a form of marketing has been around since the 15th century, and it’s not going anywhere soon. It’s a $12 billion industry that has remained relatively stable over the past five years and promises to continue on the same path, according to IBISWorld

Half of respondents to an IWCO Direct study use direct mail in their marketing mix — but it follows, of course, that half don’t. Not sure if direct mail is right for your B2B company? Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of integrating it into your marketing mix.

Benefits of Direct Mail

First things first, response rates for direct mail are through the roof. The 2015 DMA Response Rate Report shows that it has a response rate of 3.7% with a house list and 1% with a prospect list. On average, email response rates sit at just 0.1% for both house and prospect lists. Not only is the response rate higher than email, it’s faster too. The CMO Council reports that 79% of people act on direct mail immediately versus just 45% with email.

If we move past the numbers, it’s clear that direct mail is unique in other ways too. Personalized emails are effective, but sometimes a handwritten note or a thoughtful gift will go even further. The convenience of email, despite its potential for interactivity, isn’t always superior to the feeling of holding something in your hand. Who doesn’t love opening their mailbox to see something other than bills? In the words of 90s icon Steve from Blue’s Clues, “Here’s the mail. It never fails. It makes me want to wag my tail.”


Me too, Steve.

Pitfalls of Direct Mail

According to the CMO Council, 44% of direct mail is never opened — and unfortunately, it’s difficult to know which 44%. Direct mail does not provide the luxury of email, which immediately allows you to see exactly who opened, skimmed, read, and ignored your communications.

Another potential downfall is the cost. While sending out flyers advertising your products isn’t super pricey, it still costs more than email marketing. And what if you want to take a more personalized approach, like gift baskets or custom die-cut mailers? That can be expensive, especially for a small business.

The lesson here? In the B2B world, it’s probably not in your best interest to make it rain direct mail. Instead, get insight from your sales team and your marketing automation platform to help you decide which prospective customers to target with your campaign — and then make it amazing.

Need a little inspiration? We love D&AD’s post Ten+ Years of Award Winning Direct Mail, which features some of the most impressive campaigns of the 21st century.


Direct Mail + Marketing Automation

Cross-channel marketing that includes a physical and a digital aspect is easier to accomplish than you think. In a recent webcast, Shannon Duffy, Pardot’s VP of marketing, discussed a successful direct mail campaign we ran last summer. Our marketing team sent Pardot-branded grills to some of our top prospects along with hamburger-themed mailers explaining how marketing automation could help kick off their marketing efforts — and leave them more time for summer fun. We then used Pardot to deploy follow-up nurture campaigns with similar messaging.

Of course, you don’t need a big ticket item like a grill to make an impact. You can incorporate a direct mail component into virtually any marketing campaign to help create a consistent customer journey that delights your clients and prospects. You can even include a QR code or custom redirect to further engage with recipients and better measure engagement rates.

Is your company using direct mail to drive sales and build relationships? Do you have any tips for creating killer campaigns? We would love to hear your success stories in the comments!

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