If you fall into the category of business folk of the opinion that direct mail has had its heyday, or perhaps instead you’ve pigeon holed business to business direct mail as only suitable when targeting recipients of the more, ahem mature variety, be prepared to eat your hat and make room in your tactical marketing plan.
In the March/April issue of the Marketer Magazine, the official magazine of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, the world’s largest marketing body, the front cover headline “Posting Profits: Why We’ve Seen a Revival of Direct Mail,” heralds the comeback of direct mail. Apparently, direct mail is celebrating a revival. What appeared to be a steady decline in 2009 has now been dramatically reversed and since 2010 we’ve been sending more mailshots than ever.
It’s not difficult to see why and to also understand the logic behind the initial migration from direct mail to email.
Rewind several years and marketers in the b2b sector were being encouraged to adopt e-mail marketing as an alternative to the more traditional paper-based communications that had for so long sat in our marketing communications toolkit. Fast forward to millions of unwanted e-mail marketing messages later and e-mail fatigue has set in. What does an impatient business person do now when confronted with a burgeoning mailbox? They reach for the delete button, summarily despatching those e-mails that bear the faintest whiff of the unknown.
But although direct mail has made a comeback in the business to business sector that does not mean it’s business as usual. Sending out hundreds of thousands of mailshots to an ill targeted database with an envelope bursting with environmentally unfriendly paper is not what the data doctor ordered.
It doesn’t work.
Savvy marketers are cottoning onto the fact that they can now measure the impact of their targeted direct mailshots beyond simply counting the direct responses. For example, if the purpose of your mailshot is to generate awareness of your brand and to promote specific messages, you can now monitor twitter, Facebook, blogs and LinkedIn for discussions and name dropping of your brand. You can also print your messages on environmentally responsible paper and can cut down on the number of enclosures, encouraging the recipient to find out more on your blog or your website.
You can even begin your story with a direct mailshot to arouse interest and follow it up with an infographic. The brilliant thing about direct mail is that it fits beautifully into a blended communication programme that encompasses online communications too. The addition of a QR code can drive the reader to (what must be high quality, relevant and targeted) information online. And you can bet your bottom dollar that provided you have matched the message with the recipient that in the days after your targeted mailshot there will be an increase in visitors to your website and a corresponding increase in completed contact forms. Many of your recipients will appreciate the initial communication by direct mail preferring nonetheless to respond via your website.