In recent years the popularity of automation, analytics, and artificial intelligence have turned direct mail marketing strategies upside down.
Traditionally, direct mail marketing was primarily a large “batch” style channel, with lots of manual steps, for generating straight sales and leads. Its focus was direct response. You send the mailer — they turn into lead or buy the product.
It has been a staple top of the funnel channel in many industries for decades, well before the beginning of the digital marketing boom.
But recent advancements in cloud based technology have changed the way that companies can harness direct mail marketing strategies and incorporate them into their core marketing and sales tech stacks. As a result, the way that companies use the channel has expanded and changed rapidly in recent years.
What does this mean? Well — while direct response, sales-focused mailers still certainly have their place, the breadth of ways that companies can utilize the channel has grown.
Today direct mail marketing is much more versatile than it used to be, in part because of automation and the ability to connect your direct mail campaigns to existing traditional and digital campaigns. This means that direct mail can now be reliably incorporated throughout your funnel.
Direct Mail is no longer spray-and-pray. It’s now highly personalized, and it can be triggered to ensure the best possible timing. You can now send a single piece of mail out, there aren’t the old batch limitations. It should be part of a broader multi-channel approach to connecting with prospects and customers.
In this article, we’ll outline some of the ways that direct mail marketing strategies have changed in the last decade, and examine new and innovative ways that a thoughtful direct mail marketing strategy can complement other marketing activities.
Table of contents
- Common Direct Mail Marketing Strategy Misconceptions
- 7 Ways Direct Mail Marketing Can Fit Into Existing Strategies
- Modern Direct Mail Marketing Strategies Present a New Frontier
Common Direct Mail Marketing Strategy Misconceptions
For modern digitally-focused companies, direct mail marketing is an underused channel, and an opportunity to get a leg up on their competitors.
This is because many people underestimate the impact that Direct Mail marketing can have on their overall campaigns. Some may mistakenly believe the channel is dated, or only useful for a narrow slice of industries.
But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. According to the USPS’ “The Mail Moment” report, 56% of respondents say receiving mail is a “real pleasure.” 67% feel mail is more personal than the Internet.
Unfortunately, many marketers are unaware of the recent growth in direct mail marketing response rates, causing them to overlook the impact that it could have on their organization.
Let’s examine some common direct mail marketing strategy misconceptions that need to be dispelled.
Misconception: Direct mail marketing is time-consuming.
If you weren’t paying top dollar for a specialize direct marketing agency that handled the whole process for you, this was true in previous decades. Direct mail was time-consuming.
You had to design the mailers, work with copywriters on the language used in the mailers, negotiate with printers, figure out how bulk postage works, and build lists to ensure that they were sent to the right people.
Not so much anymore. Today, direct mail marketing automation platforms make it easy for companies to create, print, and deliver direct mail marketing campaigns.
Using these systems, companies can quickly create, deploy, and test different direct mail strategies.
Postalytics, for instance, gives you direct access to complete professional direct mail templates, allows you to build mailing lists, package, deliver, and track your campaigns from one platform. Ideas for campaigns can quickly be put together, deployed, and tested without spending weeks putting the campaign together.
This means a giant reduction in management tasks for marketing managers.
Misconception: Direct mail marketing campaigns are disconnected from other channels.
Another common misconception is that direct mail marketing campaigns are islands of data, disconnected from other marketing channels.
While this may have been true in the past, modern direct mail marketing platforms allow you to connect your direct mail campaigns to digital campaigns and other channels through advanced tracking and personalized URLs.
By connecting Postalytics with marketing automation platforms like HubSpot, Salesforce, ActiveCampaign, Keap or others — you can build Direct Mail campaigns into your existing workflows to bolster conversion rates.
Misconception: Direct mail marketing ROI is hard to track.
Another common misconception about Direct Mail marketing strategies is that your return on investment is difficult to track.
This too would have been true in previous years, where your direct mail marketing campaigns would go out, and you would have no way of knowing who received your campaign, who opened it, or what steps they took after opening your mailer. Often, small businesses relied on anecdotal self-reporting customers to figure out whether a campaign generated walk-in traffic.
Today, new technology such as intelligent mail barcodes and personalized URL (pURL) tracking ensures that you can see where your mail is in the delivery process and which recipients open your mailer and then visit your website. Those visits can then be used to trigger additional marketing activities in your chosen marketing automation software.
But, even more consequential is the fact that those users can then be tracked through purchase. You’ll be able to see every customer that engaged with your direct mail campaign and then went on to buy from you.
7 Ways Direct Mail Marketing Can Fit Into Existing Strategies
Modern direct mail automation platforms have turned the way that companies view and utilize direct mail upside down.
Today, your direct mail campaigns can be part of larger workflows, acting as another piece of an omnichannel experience puzzle that you deliver to customers and prospects.
Let’s take a look at some of the different ways that direct mail can fit in with your existing marketing strategies, helping you to more reliably connect with your audience through multiple channels.
1. Traditional Lead Generation
While there is much that is changed about direct mail marketing, there is a lot that has stayed the same as well.
As it always has, direct mail campaigns are an excellent tool for generating sales and leads across a wide range of different Industries. A targeted list can generate direct sales and appointments for businesses across nearly any industry.
While this article focuses on how direct mail strategy has changed and now fits in with activities through many different channels, it can also be an effective free-floating channel as well.
Many small local businesses still generate many of their customers through the direct mail campaigns that they send. Even in B2B, direct mail can be an effective channel for lead generation and establishing relationships with direct response campaigns.
Why? Because direct mail stands out in a world where everyone is hyper-focused on expanding to the newest digital channel.
67% of consumers feel mail is more personal than the Internet. This isn’t limited to older generations, either. 77% of millennials report paying attention to direct mail advertising.
The truth is that direct mail marketing strategies haven’t changed so much as they have been expanded. There are now more ways to use direct mail to your advantage, but many of the traditional direct mail strategies are still effective.
Source: Neil Patel
2. Top-Of-Funnel Information Delivery
Direct mail is a perfect channel for top-of-funnel content delivery.
In B2B marketing, buying decisions can take weeks, or even months when it comes to enterprise customers. The average sales cycle length for enterprise deals is 102 days. During that time, they are evaluating other solutions to see if they are the right fit for them and companies need to make sure that they are staying in constant contact with prospects so that they remain top of mind.
This usually means a consistent flow of educational content and materials that they will find useful. But delivering material over and over again through the same channels — such as email — makes you much more likely to be ignored. Delivering top-of-funnel educational content through multiple channels makes it more likely to be viewed by stakeholders.
These materials aren’t meant to make the sale, but instead, this is a direct mail strategy that keeps you top-of-radar and your solution in mind as the company moves toward investing in a solution.
The types of materials that you can deliver through direct mail for top-of-funnel nurturing include:
- Informational guides
- Industry information
- Educational materials
- Direct response materials
3. Middle-Of-Funnel Nurturing
As prospects move down the funnel, they need a consistent supply of information from your company.
As they close in on making their decision, the content that you deliver should be more overtly sales-focused. Now, triggered drip direct mail strategies make perfect sense.
These materials are designed to take your product or solution from “being considered” to one of the final bunch of options that a company is considering.
- Product guides
- Fact sheets
- White papers
4. Bottom-Of-Funnel Sales Enablement Materials
Bottom of the funnel content is designed to convert interested prospects into happy buyers.
They are a sales tool, used by your reps to engage with buyers as they make their final buying decision. In direct mail campaigns, they are used to nudge prospects and customers closer toward agreeing to a deal.
There are many types of bottom-of-the-funnel content, most of which would be appropriate, or even more effective when delivered through your direct mail strategy.
Giving your prospects a tangible piece of collateral conveys professionalism, and makes your brand memorable when compared to the competition that only sends over a low effort email.
Some of the different types of bottom of the funnel content that you can send through direct mail include:
- Case Studies
- Product Updates
- Product Use Case Information
- Competitor Comparison
- User Documentation
- Reviews and Testimonials
Delivering these types of materials through direct mail will help you to stand out from the crowd while delivering something that can be shared among stakeholders at prospect accounts.
5. Customer Retention
A multichannel approach can have a big impact on customer retention and loyalty.
A real key to growth is the lifetime value of the customers that you can bring on board. Signing a new customer is great, but if they only stick around for a few months and fail to renew, that eats away at the profitability of any business. You can’t expend so much energy into signing customers that do not renew. It’s wasted energy. But retaining customers takes a concerted effort.
Retaining customers is about building relationships. Going above and beyond to ensure that your customers are happy requires that you are constantly in communication and delivering value regularly. Customers stick with companies that deliver value consistently, both through the products they provide and the information that they deliver.
Doing this often requires a multi-channel approach. A prospect may read your email newsletter for a time after subscribing, but many will eventually stop opening your emails over time. As they engage less, the chances that they renew reduce as well.
Engaging with customers through multiple channels and shows that you stay top-of-mind and that your offer stays in front of them. When it comes time for them to renew, customers that have been continually engaged with through multiple channels are much more likely to re-subscribe or sign a new contract than those that haven’t.
Source: Palmetto Trend
6. Cross-Selling and Upselling
Cross-selling and upselling your customers is another sure-fire way to grow your customer lifetime value. Your direct mail strategy should definitely incorporate this.
Upselling increases revenue by an average of 10-30% for eCommerce companies.
Email has long been a popular channel for cross-selling and upselling products and services, both for B2C and B2B companies.
Combining these offers with direct mail touchpoints can be a great way to engage your customers through multiple channels while delivering a tangible asset but they are more likely to hold on to.
7. Customer Loyalty
A multi-channel approach helps to build customer loyalty over time. Loyal returning customers spend 67% more with a business than new customers.
Direct Mail can be a great way to stand out from the competition and connect with prospects in new and interesting ways.
Receiving something tangible that they can hold in their hands will certainly feel like a company has put in more time and effort than simply receiving an email. You can also use direct mail to deliver targeted campaigns that reference data points in popular CRM tools to provide a more personalized experience.
Modern Direct Mail Marketing Strategies Present a New Frontier
A modern direct mail marketing strategy acknowledges the fact that direct mail is an ideal platform for expanding to new channels and delivering materials throughout the customer journey.
Direct mail can be a powerful tool for companies that already have fleshed-out digital programs, and are looking to supplement them for a more omnichannel approach.
By incorporating direct mail into your existing marketing automation sequences, you can bolster their effectiveness, stand out from a sea of emails, and help your company to add another channel to its repertoire.