So you just found out that 60% of marketers say direct mail has the highest ROI of all marketing channels. You’re excited to tap into that ROI, but you’re stuck trying to brainstorm direct mail marketing ideas that work for your business.

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  • Direct mail marketing involves some form of an interactive element, which reflects an increased engagement rate. Take advantage of direct mail marketing services to help you with your business goals. Direct mail can encourage more eyes to see your marketing since customers handle mail and look at it when deciding to keep it or not.
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Luckily, there are businesses in every industry using direct mail to target customers at every stage of the funnel that you can turn to for inspiration.

Whether your digital marketing is less than stellar or you just want to add a physical layer to your omnichannel strategy, direct mail marketing is the way to go. Many businesses are already proving that direct mail can expand audiences, increase conversions, and boost retention with these campaign ideas.

The purpose of direct mail lists are to target a large number of prospects who share a trait that qualifies them for your marketing offer. The ability to target VERY specific groups is the most powerful aspect of direct mail lists. Depending on the type of mailing list (which I explain below), you can target by several demographics like.

1. New product promotion

People receive over 150 emails a day. Think your new product promotion will stand out from all the digital noise? Maybe. Maybe not. Increase your chances of getting noticed by complimenting your digital new product promotion strategy with direct mail.

Who: Kit Kat

What: The well-loved candy brand promoted their new Kit Kat Chunky bar with a personalized postcard that looked like a “package could not be delivered” delivery notice claiming the candy was “too chunky” for their mailbox.

Why: This campaign likely stood out from other postcards their audience received at the time. Along with being noticeable, the mail boosted brand awareness by encouraging recipients to collect their free chocolate bar from a local news station. According to G2, even though it involved giving away free products, the campaign ultimately created a spike in sales.

Best practice: Marketing doesn’t have to be serious. In fact, being outrageous might be the very thing that gets your audience’s attention. Combine a funny or outlandish idea with personalization (like adding the recipient’s name, as Kit Kat did) to make sure your direct mail is impossible to ignore.

2. Identity verification

Scammers can cause a lot of problems in a variety of industries. Add identity verification to your direct mail marketing ideas to help circumvent costly issues.

Who: Booking.com

What: Booking.com, an online travel agency, used direct mail to verify that property listings (and the people who owned them) were real by mailing verification codes to property owners, who then logged in using unique information to authenticate their address and verify their identity.

Why: This allowed them to eliminate scammers and fake listings that had previously been causing disastrous problems for travelers—no more getting stranded in the middle of nowhere at a place that doesn’t exist!

Best practice: Manually checking that every single person is who they say they are is a time-consuming process. To save time (and therefore money), find a platform like Lob that can integrate into your current tech to automate the identity verification process and provide address verification.

3. Product samples

A big barrier when people are purchasing physical products online is not being able to taste, smell, or experience the product. Use direct mail to send the experience to customers’ doors, so they feel more confident buying.

Marketing

Who: Function of Beauty

What: The hair product company used this tactic when they mailed samples of their three newest shampoo scents straight to their audience’s mailboxes.

Why: This campaign allowed their audience to experience their product, giving them the confidence they need to go from “add to cart” to “purchase complete.” This kind of campaign could be used to send not just scent samples but samples for products you need to taste, feel, or use before buying, too, like food, fabric, or beauty product samples.

Best practice: When adding this campaign to your list of direct mail marketing ideas, consider sending samples to those who have already shown interest in your brand by visiting your site or adding a product to their cart. That way, you won’t spend money sending samples to people who have no intention of buying your product yet.

4. Direct mail for upsells

Just because someone made one purchase doesn’t guarantee they’ll continue to make purchases. You still have to build loyalty and encourage more purchases if you want customers to be life-long brand advocates. An upsell campaign can help you do just that.

Who:Betabrand

What: This women’s clothing company ran an upsell direct mail campaign to reengage customers and encourage them to buy the newest style of a product they recently bought.

Why: Betabrand was able to reach past customers who were unresponsive on digital channels and increase repeat revenue. The campaign drove a 30% reduction in cost per order compared to their digital channels.

Best practice: If your customer Sarah only buys pants, sending her an upsell postcard with a skirt you’re selling probably won’t be effective. Make your upsell as relevant to your audience as possible by personalizing it based on what individuals have purchased in the past.

5. Reengagement for unsubscribers

With an increasing number of tools like Unroll.me, it’s getting easier for people to unsubscribe en masse. When you can’t reach someone by email anymore, you can turn to direct mail. Get them interested again by reminding them of the value of your business and giving them an offer that encourages them to resubscribe.

Who: ThirdLove

Direct

What: This intimates company sent direct mail-based lifecycle campaigns for users that had unsubscribed from email communication.

Why: ThirdLove was able to connect with people who had opted out of email and personalized the visuals on their direct mail using customer data that shows what products people might be interested in based on previous purchases.

Best practice: Whether they were annoyed by your emails specifically or they were just purging their inbox, people unsubscribed for a reason. The last thing you want to do is turn them off from your brand even more with annoying or intrusive mail. Instead, give your audience a reason to resubscribe that’s too good to ignore.

6. Co-marketing campaigns

Want to expand your audience fast? Add collaboration to your direct mail marketing ideas! Combine your resources and run a mutually beneficial direct mail co-marketing campaign.

Who: HelloFresh

What: They work with brands like BrightCellars, a wine delivery subscription, to send coupons for HelloFresh in BrightCellars’ delivery boxes.

Why: These coupons help HelloFresh get in front of a new audience that has already shown an interest in services similar to what HelloFresh offers and is within the target age demographic (30–50).

Best practice: HelloFresh wouldn’t share Blue Apron coupons with their customers. They’re direct competitors. BrightCellars, on the other hand, offers an entirely different product: wine. And since BrightCellars’ is a beverage delivery service, HelloFresh can be pretty certain that BrightCellars’ customers would also be interested in food delivery. Choose a co-marketing partner that has some audience overlap but still provides a different end product. That way, you can create a mutually beneficial campaign.

7. In-store campaigns

Need to increase foot traffic? Sending coupons, discount codes, and punch cards that can only be used in-store can offer that much-needed boost in foot traffic.

Who: Any company or restaurant with a brick-and-mortar store like Ace Hardware and Sephora

Marketing

What: They mail birthday coupons, punch cards to fit in a wallet, and free offers that can only be redeemed in the store.

Why: Online shopping has been hurting brick-and-mortar stores for years, and COVID only made it worse, sending a lot of stores (especially retail) into bankruptcy. Sephora might be making billions of dollars in revenue, but if your local Sephora isn’t driving part of that from their store, they may shut down. It’s more important than ever to include marketing initiatives that encourage foot traffic. Sending in-store coupons helps them drive foot traffic and keep their location open.

Best practice: Pay attention to recipients’ location. If Ace Hardware sent an in-store coupon to someone who lives 50 miles away from the nearest store, they’d likely be wasting their money. Narrow your geographic circle to get the most out of this direct mail campaign.

There are no limits on direct mail marketing ideas

These direct mail marketing ideas are all distinct with unique goals, but they all use one or more of these tactics:

  • They segment their audiences based on geography or where they are in the sales funnel
  • They personalize their offers, imagery, or messaging
  • They automate at least part of the process

Implementing these best practices in your own campaigns will help you get the most out of direct mail. And while these are just a few examples of direct mail marketing, the sky’s the limit on what you can do. Take a look at our customer page to get even more ideas for how you can use direct mail.


As a B2B marketer, you've experienced how the circumstances of 2020 increased the complexities of your direct marketing strategy and, in turn, its effectiveness.

Connecting with your professional audience at their homes rather than in their offices has encouraged marketers to re-examine their strategy and available tactics.

By using as most valuable resource. But the impending demise of third-party cookies and increasing desire for a more personalized buying experience has caused many marketers to take a closer look at the customer insights and behavior metrics available within their own, first-party data sources.

A robust customer relationships management (CRM) program will not only give you a competitive advantage but also allow you to develop more targeted and personalized strategies that will resonate with your audience and protect your investment.

Start the process by conducting a comprehensive data audit to identify what variables are most relevant to your business and selling strategy—and what might be missing. Then, prioritize completing those fields throughout your contact records.

The COVID-19 era of remote work has prompted prospects to open the door and receive B2B direct marketing communications at their home offices. As you work to build complete profiles, include personal contact information, such as home address and personal email address.

Data append and identity graph technologies allow you to combine all your online and offline data sources (such as social media accounts, e-commerce platforms, apps, and direct mail history) to find buyers across multiple devices and locations.

2. Treat retention as the new acquisition

Even when budgets are tight, you are still expected to meet your revenue target. Shifting your strategy from customer acquisition to customer retention can provide higher returns for your marketing spend.

That said, maintaining loyalty throughout the unique circumstances of 2020 proved more difficult than in the past. A whopping 80% of B2B buyers have swapped vendors in the past year, Accenture research found—and the more frequently buyers make purchases, the more likely they are to switch vendors. The same study reported that 21% of buyers claimed to be dissatisfied with a lack of personalized pricing and offers.

So how do you keep your best and most frequent customers happy?

Personalization turns generic marketing into a meaningful connection and plays a pivotal role in creating satisfying relationships. More than half of people say they feel connected to a brand when they feel that brand understands them and their desires.

Segment your CRM data to ensure your messaging is personalized and relevant to each of your customer groups by addressing their unique needs and pain points, then nurture them to another conversion on a relevant channel.

Direct mailing marketing software

As for direct mail, 6 out of 10 consumers say they feel it is more personal and trustworthy than other marketing channels, according to USPS research. Moreover, more than 40% of marketers rely on mail's subconscious influence to drive customer loyalty and repeat purchases.

Progressive technology and data advancements have continued to optimize the versatility and effectiveness of print media in a digital world. Variable printing data (VPD) allows you to apply your freshened-up CRM data to craft persona-based mailers by swapping elements of your direct mail piece (such as text, colors, or images) from one piece to the next without interrupting the printing process. That makes every piece relevant to each individual buyer on your mailing list, naturally increasing its impact.

Exclusive offers, personalized invitations, and feedback requests can be triggered by a variety of events such as stage in the buyer journey, website activity, or dormant periods to reactive purchase interest and engagement.

3. Create a multichannel experience

B2B buyers are also consumers, so it is realistic to assume their professional buying preferences can mirror that of their personal buying preferences.

One-third of those surveyed in a CMO Council study said they expect direct mail to be part of their ideal communications mix. More than 80% of marketers agree that including mail in their multichannel mix has a positive impact on response rates and ROI, according to industry research.

Including mail packages in your B2B direct marketing strategy, especially at a time when 33% of workers are at home, will enhance overall customer experience and support diversified online and offline buyer preferences.

Content bingeing has become a social norm, so it is no surprise that a B2B buyer binges 13 pieces of content, on average, before making a purchase, as shown in recent studies. Determine how you can incorporate the natural storytelling benefit of direct mail into your selling process to lengthen prospect interactions.

To encourage your prospects to dive into your piece, use a variety of educational elements, such as product specs and comparisons, reviews, and success stories. Incorporate interactive digital elements (QR codes or PURLs) within the package to link prospects to online video content, let them request product samples, or start the RFP process.

Use online intent signals to trigger retargeted mailings and provide a seamless customer journey as researching buyers engage with your organization between channels and platforms, naturally moving them closer to your desired action.

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What Is Direct Mail

The 2020 effect will continue to influence your B2B direct marketing strategy in 2021, and likely for years to come. Maximize and activate your first-party data to provide a holistic view of your audience and your competitive edge, then use those insights to build a relevant and personalized retention program and appeal to buyer preferences with an intentional multichannel approach that makes it easy to do business with you, both online and offline.

And, most important, stay agile by closely watching campaign performance and testing across multiple channels to improve results.

Mailing Marketing Directly

More Resources on B2B Direct Marketing