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How and When to Use Direct Mail in the Lead Generation Process

Direct mail (DM) has long been at the forefront of advertising. It was only after the appearance of the internet and, in particular, the rise of social media when direct mail had been placed on the backburner or discontinued by some companies. In short, direct mail is a form of marketing that involves sending a piece of promotional material via the postal service or courier to a potential lead or customer. 

It comes in several forms such as postcards, leaflets, brochures, catalogs, sales letters, newsletters, etc., and it can be highly effective when deployed strategically. DM is seen by many as something belonging to the past. The benefits of advertising online have made it seem like direct mail is something used only to target senior citizens or those who aren’t tech savvy. This apparent antiquation is just an appearance – and a missed opportunity for excellent lead generation. 

The Advantages of Direct Mail

For starters, fewer companies are still using direct mail as part of their marketing strategy, which automatically implies that there is less competition. It’s much easier to compete with, say 4 or 5 pieces of direct mail than with 144 emails a day. The chances are that your email will get lost in the clutter. In fact, 80 to 90% of direct mail is opened, while only 20 to 30% of emails are opened – and that’s on a good day.

Second, 54% of consumers said that they’d like to receive direct mail from brands that interest them, while 42% of recipients read or scan the mail pieces. Also, 76% of consumers trust direct mail more than their digital counterparts when they’re looking to make a purchase. 

By comparison, direct mail pulls a much higher response rate (9%) as compared to any digital direct marketing medium such as email, paid search, or social media, which all hover around (1%). DM also requires 21% less cognitive effort to process and elicits a much higher brand recall than digital advertising.

Direct mail will have a much more significant impact on your target audience and a much higher success rate. And even though it might seem somewhat old-fashioned in the digital age, DM is making quite a comeback. 

Below are several best practices when using direct mail as part of your lead generation process. 

Direct Mail and Marketing Automation

Among the biggest challenges that direct mail poses are overhead costs such as printing, packaging, posting, etc. Sending mass DM to prospects can become a costly affair, particularly when employed haphazardly. But when used correctly and under the right circumstances, it can be very effective. Marketing automation can help when developing a direct mailing strategy. Direct mail automation makes use of digital marketing and analytics, personalization, and event triggers to send out direct mail to the right people and at the right time. 

For example, you may be using a lead scoring system to classify, categorize, and prioritize your leads. Whenever a lead reaches a particular lead score based on the classifications you’ve created, an automatic trigger will be activated to let you know it’s time to send them DM. This way, you’ll be able to eliminate much of the guesswork and operate strictly on the numbers. 

Thanks to advances in digital printing, you can create very dynamic and personalized direct mail pieces with custom fonts and handwritten fonts that look like your salesperson’s handwriting. Printers like Handwrytten, Thankster, and Send Out Cards offer API’s and Zapier to connect to your marketing automation or CRM solution to generate these direct mail pieces automatically.


Personalized and The Buyer Journey 

It’s important to note that the role of direct mail will vary depending on where the customer is in their buyer’s journey. For example, DM can be especially useful when the customer is in the research phase when they’re trying to understand the product and the product you solve. Direct mail can help them compare features and solutions of other competitors that you might not want to publish online. DM can be used to cross-sell or upsell existing customers to purchase products related to their previous purchases. We have had clients often tell us they didn’t know we offered additional solutions were it not for the DM piece. Nevertheless, DM can be used at all stages of the sales cycle. You should develop personas for your customers and keep an eye out for where they are at every stage of the sales cycle, so you can use direct mail in a more relevant and effective way based on their buyer or customer journey. 

Direct Mail for Customer Engagement and Re-engagement

You can also use direct mail with customers who’ve agreed to a direct meeting with you, as well as with those who haven’t purchased in a while. Something as simple as a friendly greeting or maybe an incentive like a discount or reward will help to re-engage them.  

Direct Mail When Digital Mail Isn’t Working

If your leads aren’t responding or opening your emails, it’s probably because you’re using the wrong channel to communicate with them. That’s why we urge marketers to develop personas to help understand their prospect’s communication preference. For example, CEOs are notorious for having their executive assistant monitor or even manage their email account, so it might be better to send a DM to a CEO or the entire C-suite vs. sending another email.

In short, direct mail works best if it’s used in combination with other marketing strategies to generate and nurture leads. It’s perfectly able to complement or replace digital strategies when these prove to be ineffective. If you want to learn more about direct mail best practices and lead generation strategies, feel free to contact us or subscribe to our newsletter.