Using direct mail as a creative means to drive demand

Stephen Waddington

26 February 2019

Direct mail is back on trend as an effective form of business-to-business marketing. We’ve reinvented it as a means of turning a one-way conversation into a two-way conversation, and it forms a core part of our demand programs with B2B clients.

In an era when marketing campaigns are managed at scale using automation, data, and digital media, sending a thoughtful package in the mail is a personal and creative means of engaging a prospect.

We use direct mail in this way as a means of account-based marketing at the point between marketing and sales. Combined with digital tactics, it’s an effective way of accelerating a lead through the funnel and turning it into a prospect.

Creative conversation starters

Direct mail used in this way doesn’t scale, but then it isn’t meant to. The goal is to start a conversation. Campaigns are typically based on a maximum of 50 well-qualified prospects.

Each prospect is sent a piece of direct mail. This is a creative device that is personalized and intended to start a conversation—it shouldn’t be misconstrued as a gift.

It doesn’t need to be practical or functional, but it must align closely with a current challenge or solve a need of the recipient. We’ve designed and produced creative packaging with a note to accompany books, chocolates, toy cars, and plants.

There is one critical design constraint: the direct mail needs to get through an organization’s security and gatekeepers.

It should include a personal note. People build relationships with people, not organizations. Almost no one sends handwritten letters anymore, so a thoughtful note will get through an organization to its intended recipient where calls, emails, and junk mail are stopped.

Rigorous campaign management

Follow-up needs to be immediate and well managed. A combination of email and personal calls works. We typically engage only 5 to 10 individuals per day to keep a campaign manageable.

The follow-up communications need to be planned with military precision. Use other marketing assets such as case studies and industry reports to secure attention.

The return on investment is impressive: typically, 50% of prospects will respond, and 25% will turn into a meaningful conversation.

Model account-based marketing

Here’s how B2B direct mail works in practice.

A campaign for Kaseya, a systems management platform, sought to engage multiple stakeholders within prospective organizations. It identified three stakeholders in large organizations for its IT automation platform.

An analysis of the audience determined that they were CEOs, sales directors, and IT directors—generally men, and aged 35 to 45. A personalized, nostalgic conversation starter was likely to cut through.

Metia sent prospects a small Scalextric set (also known as a Slot Car) in three parts to the different stakeholders, prompting them to meet, roll up their sleeves, and spend time putting the set together.

The campaign was developed with daily personalized online video testimonies and high-value analyst reports. 

Sixty individuals were handpicked for the campaign. There was a 52% engagement through telemarketing, of which 14 agreed to a product demo, and 6 agreed to evaluate the product.

The first deal was signed in a record seven weeks. The campaign generated £37 of new revenue for every £1 marketing spend.

There’s no doubt that direct mail is a contrarian marketing tactic in the modern digital media, but applied appropriately it’s a highly effective form of engagement—and proven to deliver revenue.  

If you are looking to execute an account-based marketing campaign to drive demand for your business, please get in touch. We have a host of case studies that we can share and would be happy to talk through them with you.

This article was co-written by Stephen Waddington, UK Managing Director and Benedikt Humm, ABM Lead at Metia.