Is Direct Mail Still Relevant for B2B Marketers?

Is Direct Mail Still Relevant for B2B Marketers?

The debate on whether direct mail is dead could go on forever. People will continue to debate the effectiveness of direct mail when up against the growing popularity of online marketing.

So, where does this leave direct mail in 2018? Is it still relevant? How effective is it compared to online marketing?

A Brief Look at Direct Mail

If you haven’t done much direct mail, here’s the scoop: It’s essentially a form of marketing that sends your message directly to your recipient in a physical form. There are a few bonuses of direct mail such as:

  • It saves the customer doing research online
  • Direct mailing guarantees your message has been received; unlike emails that can just be filtered into spam folders without being opened
  • Direct mail allows a full range of creative design, unlike an email where you have one chance to sell through a subject line

What does Direct Mail Offer that Email Marketing Can’t?

While email marketing can reach a massive audience at the click of a button, it does come with a number of issues. One of the most recent problems comes in the shape of the GDPR update. GDPR has forced every digital marketing company to rethink their outreach strategies to comply with new, strict rules. Additionally, a recent study from Smart Insights claims that email open rates are the lowest of all multimedia channels at a low 18.05%. The highest open rate is publishing, reporting at 36.59%.

Millennials have also had their say on email marketing. They claim that despite the dominance of online marketing, they still prefer reading and receiving physical advertisements.

Isn’t Direct Mail an Old Trick?

Although print advertising has been around for decades, it’s still an authority and we still need it. Despite the perception of being ‘old school’, direct mail is actually one of the main reasons that print advertising is still successful. People believe it’s trustworthy in comparison to emails.

We all get spam emails. The rise in phishing scams is only making people more cautious about what they open in their inbox. Even if your online marketing campaign is ethical and genuinely helpful, there’s a chance that it will never reach the recipient. Direct mail removes this issue altogether by landing at your doorstep and presenting you with offers you know you can trust.

How Can Direct Marketing Work for B2B?

According to Sylvia Nash:

“Direct marketing is the most efficient way to reach a defined audience […]. Companies that are marketing B2B products typically have done a fair amount of research on who their customers are. Once you have that profile defined, you can go to market with a variety of innovative tactics to target only that audience.”

It is essential to have data on whom your customers are because you can reach them via any multimedia channels and offer your product. The simple fact is that the effective campaigns are the ones that hit their audience at several touch points throughout the buyer’s journey. Combining this with data tracking and reporting capabilities make direct marketing easier than ever. Furthermore, it can all be recorded and tracked to check efficiency and ROI.

Related Post: How to Create Content for Each Stage of Your Buyer’s Journey

Why is Direct Mail Important Now?

One word, GDPR.

While you might think direct mailing is obsolete alongside the digital world of marketing, it’s not. In fact, it’s proven to work and it’s more important now than ever before.

Before the recent GDPR rules, every day, B2B companies would get the same unsolicited emails and the same cold calls from companies that they had no interest in. GDPR is stopping that from happening. Companies now need permission and/or justification to contact their previous mailing list.

‘Opting in’ is required in a majority of cases. This means every company (aside from a select few such as charities and fundraisers) has to send out an email asking email recipients to ‘opt-in’ to continue receiving their emails. Unsubscribing or not replying at all means losing the right to contact those people.

Why does this matter? Because this doesn’t apply to direct mailing. All you need to do is prove that the people you’re contacting through direct mail hold a ‘legitimate interest’ in your product or service.

Therefore, marketers can turn to direct mailing as another channel to contact customers.

Related Post: 11 Ways to Improve Your Email Open Rates [Focus: B2B]

Direct Mail Will Stand Out Now More than Ever

In a world dominated by digital, direct mail becomes a more unique, unexpected and attractive prospect. No one likes spam. But people like personalised mail, especially if it’s well-designed and relevant to them.

The Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA’s) 2015 Response Rate Report claims that the average response rates for digital channels are 0.62%. In comparison, direct mail response rates clock in at 3.7%, six times the rate of digital response rates.

B2B company Salesfusion proved the effectiveness of direct mail with their dimensional mail campaigns, which turned in an exceptional 15-20% conversion rate.

Direct Mail is Far from Dead for B2B Marketers

The truth is, direct mail is now in the strongest position it’s ever been in. With the new GDPR update, the continued untrustworthiness of email scamming and phishing, and new stats revealing direct mail is on the up now is the time for online marketers to consider direct mail. The key to success with direct mail? Treat humans like humans, not bots you can send a thousand emails to, hoping for a welcoming response. If people believe your company or campaign has their best interests at heart, they’re more likely to opt for your services.

Is direct mail the right option for everyone? Not necessarily. However, if you have targeted customer list, then a creative and quirky direct mail campaign might be the refreshing concept they’re looking for.


This is a guest blog post by Connor Hughes, a content writer for The Mailing People, a renowned direct mailing company based in Portsmouth (UK). Connor is a keen marketing blogger and has a keen interest in the psychology behind millennial advertising.

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