Josh B.
August 11, 2023
min read
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Direct Mail, Email Marketing, Lead Generation, Marketing Strategy, Small & Medium Business Marketing

When does direct mail make sense for B2B lead generation? The Response Rate Report published by the Direct Marketing Association declared that direct mail sent to existing customers averaged a response rate exceeding email by more than 3 percentage points, with direct mail garnering a 3.40% response rate compared to a meager 0.12% for email. This statistic is accompanied by another critical data point that defines return-on-investment (ROI) for email at 28.5 times cost versus 7.0 for direct mail*. With the modest bump in response rate for direct mail compared to the much larger ROI for email, it’s hard to justify implementing a direct mail campaign over email. This is because all things are equal.

With that said, there are still times when direct mail can be the right solution to achieve your B2B lead generation goals. 

3 Keys to Improve Business-to-Business Customer Searching

To help you determine when direct mail makes sense for you, we’ve developed this list of criteria as a guide.

  1. Your target audience and offer is well defined If you’ve taken the time to identify and profile your target audience and have a compelling message to convey, direct mail is an excellent way to gain traction. This is particularly true if you can incorporate variable data and personalization into your direct mail.
  2. Your email results have bottomed out. With proper management, you can identify who is and who isn’t reading your email. For those that are not, direct mail can be an effective means for sharing information and offers.
  3. Your target audience is small The greatest advantage email has over direct mail is economies-of-scale. There is virtually no cost difference between sending out 10 emails than sending 10,000. The same cannot be said for direct mail. However, if your target audience is small, the difference in variable costs can be much more manageable and the increase in response significant.
  4. When email is not an option This fact merits highlighting: if you lack email addresses, then direct mail may represent your best potential channel though not your sole potential channel, for reaching out to your audience. In these cases, direct mail is often utilized as a way to introduce your company or service and capture critical email addresses that can be used for future campaigns.
  5. Your utilizing a 3rd party list Quality lists are the lifeblood of B2B lead generation campaigns. If you’re working with a partner or vendor that is giving you a one-time use of their list, direct mail may be your only option. This is often the case with magazines offering incentives for advertising purchases. In most cases, your strategy for such activities should be to capture email addresses for future use.
  6. Your target audience is unknown but geographically centralized If you’re selling to a single geographic area and don’t know specific individuals, the USPS has developed a reduced pricing strategy that can make direct mail more cost effective than ever by targeting neighborhoods and businesses. While this approach can cut your cost of postage, it’s a broad, shot-gun approach to marketing that can still have a significant printing cost.

Indisputably, the greatest contributor to the difference in the ROI of direct mailing and emailing is the adjustable expenditure linked with direct mailing (namely postage and printing costs) which provides email with a significant cost advantage. printing and postage). When building a marketing strategy that includes direct mail, you need to factor these elements into consideration. You also need to closely scrutinize the variables influencing the success of any direct mail campaign (list quality, creative, calls-to-action, response method, etc.). Only when all of these elements have been optimized and weighed against your alternatives does direct mail become a truly viable vehicle for achieving your B2B lead generation goals.

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Josh B.

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