We hear it all the time: direct mail is expensive and it’s challenging to reach business buyers in a work-from-home (WFH) world. Yet, studies show that, even in our digital world, the tried-and-true method is proving to still be effective in prompting buyers to (at least consider) purchase. Direct mail company Reachdesk regularly analyzes deal close rates to understand the effect of direct mail and recently published findings that direct mail, particularly when sent to multiple stakeholders, increased deal close rates. Direct mail also provides an opportunity for personalized gifts, appealing to the increased interest in a more humanized approach in B2B marketing.
But, COVID-19 and the subsequent shift to WFH have introduced some new challenges. For example, how do you mail something to someone who’s never in the office? Instead of ditching snail mail altogether, here are seven tips to get ahead of the game and modify direct mail to fit the new era of WFH.
Identify your key targets with ABM
Having a thoughtful Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategy is the first step to implementing an effective direct mail campaign. An ABM strategy helps you to pinpoint your ideal customer and build campaigns tailored to them. Then, you can create a direct mail list with clients that you know are a good fit, at the right stage of their buying journey, and avoid wasting money on fruitless campaigns.
For example, a recent client of ours who wanted to increase booked demo meetings decided to integrate direct mail into their ABM strategy as a test. The campaign was directed at prospects who had already filled out a demo request form and were already in the sales pipeline but hadn’t followed through with a sales demo call yet after several emails and phone calls to schedule one. In an effort to increase the number of completed demo requests, our client sent a thoughtful, personalized direct mail gift to entice individuals to commit to the product demo with great success.
Get to know your audience
Once you’ve identified the clients you want to reach, spend some time getting to know the decision-makers. How old are they? What media do they trust? Where do they live and work? What are they worried about? COVID-19 drastically changed the work environment. A study by Upwork found that 58% of businesses expect their workforce to be fully remote in the next five years, a 20% increase since the start of the pandemic.
Start by asking, “Is the person I want to reach likely in an office, working from home, or hybrid?” If they are in an office, the traditional method through the mail may be best. If not, you’ll want to try to confirm their address via email first. After all, you don’t want your budget spent on incentives that sit in a mailbox that isn’t going to be checked for several months (if ever!).
Use email to verify
It can be difficult to tell who works from home and who’s in the office, and how often they’re in the office. Email is a way to verify the appropriate address. Verification is a great step to ensure that your marketing budget is being used effectively and your efforts are truly reaching the person on the other end. Sendoso, Reachdesk, and Postal.io are good platforms to help you get started and have this step built into their programs. When you email, make sure you give them a reason to believe that giving you their address is worth it.
Create value with intentional gifts
COVID-19 has led to a shift in personal and professional values. Several studies have found that post-pandemic, more people value human interaction and have gotten involved in social justice. Instead of sending a gift card to a coffee shop, another option is to send an offer to donate to a charity of their choice or invite them to an event that might appeal to their values. Human-centric ABM can be extremely helpful in this step as you determine what your audience cares about and how to convey that you’re committed not just to their business, but to them as well.
Discover what breaks through the noise
Like other ABM tactics, direct mail is a learning process. Your recipient is likely getting hundreds of other messages on the same day, so you’ll need to find a way to break through the noise. Try multiple routes and frequencies of delivery and various incentives. Then, measure what gets the best return on investment. Over time, you’ll find the “Goldilocks” value of each. Contrary to what one might guess, high-value incentives don’t always convert into sales and you might be just as effective with a less expensive incentive.
When writing emails and messages that are included in your direct mail campaigns, keep in mind that people are going to respond more favorably if they get the impression this is a personal gift from another human. Most people are turned off by campaigns that feel mass-produced. Convey a message that highlights the benefits they will reap if they work with you. These benefits can appeal to both professional and personal interests and should be related to the incentive you provide.
Fulfill your promise
At the end of the day, this is the most important step. Whatever you are offering, make sure to follow through and deliver excellence. You don’t want to go through the logistical challenges, time, and expense of implementing a direct mail campaign, only to have the gift be something that didn’t wow someone. Use and update your ABM strategy to make sure you’re sending something that’s highly likely to appeal to your target audience. If not, it’s time to reevaluate your methods or to reconsider if the potential gift is a good fit.
So, in short -- direct mail is certainly not dead. In its traditional form, direct mail has been an effective way to generate excitement about and connection to your offerings. With some small adjustments, it’s still a great option to include in your ABM campaigns to deliver a solid return on investment and build meaningful relationships between you and best-fit clients.
Account Director at Beacon Digital, Dan Seitz generates massive leads – and ROI – for clients, combining art, science, and a healthy dose of charisma that makes his job look easier than it is. Dan previously served as Director of Strategy and Planning for Hawthorn Creative, and as a Digital Marketing Strategist with Geary LSF and Seacoast Media. Dan knows a strategy is only as good as it can be executed and measured, and he’s done almost every job in the book: email, digital display, marketing automation, social media, paid search, print, and subscription/download campaigns.