4 Best Practices for Driving Inbound Marketing Success with Direct Mail
By Alyson Kallmeyer, Senior Traffic/Production Manager
Inbound marketing is today’s most powerful marketing channel to attract qualified leads for your business, create brand awareness, and nurture strong and sustainable brand loyalty.
What is it?
In essence, inbound marketing is a methodology that attracts customers and clients by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them and their needs. While outbound marketing (for example, television commercials and telemarketing calls) interrupts your target audience with content they may or may not want, inbound marketing forges connections with them and offers concrete solutions to challenges for which they are actively seeking solutions.
Inbound marketing utilizes an array of tools to attract prospects, engage them in ways that address their pain points, and support them in achieving their goals. Many of these tools are digital platforms. But not always. Even today, selected outbound tools can play a key role in driving inbound success if devised and deployed strategically – and direct mail is a prime example.
Indeed, inbound and outbound marketing need not be mutually exclusive. In the end, it’s all about reaching the right target with the right message at the right time – and direct mail can deliver results. While its origins probably predate the Pony Express, direct mail – i.e., a physical letter, package, mailer, brochure or postcard – remains a tried-and-true tactic that inbound marketers count on to reinforce messaging and compel recipients to take action.
Data alone makes a strong case for direct mail. Although direct mail’s response rate has dropped over time, the Direct Marketing Association found direct mail’s response rate is a healthy 4.4%, compared to 0.12% for email. Furthermore, 76% of people surveyed trust ads they receive in the mail, according to Marketing Sherpa. Email still offers better ROI than direct mail ($28.50 compared to $7, according to HubSpot); however, it’s less expensive to send, say, 1,000 emails than 1,000 direct mail pieces, so a true apples-to-apples comparison is difficult to make. Direct mail, meanwhile, receives a 9% response rate for house lists (i.e., client/prospect list) and a 4.9% response rate for prospect lists.
Then there’s the human element to consider. People receive 121 emails per day on average, so your email competes with a high volume of messages in an eternally cluttered environment. Conversely, four in 10 people enjoy checking their physical mailbox – and even if a direct mail piece doesn’t immediately compel action, it does create a touchpoint that leaves an impression.
Outbound and inbound marketing do not need to be an either/or scenario. Situationally, they can work in tandem. So, what are the most effective ways of leveraging direct mail to boost your inbound marketing efforts? Consider these four best practices:
1. Establish your direct mail campaign objective(s).
Like any marketing tactic, direct mail should be used to support your specific marketing strategies and achieve specific results. Are you looking to introduce your company to a new geographic market? Promote a service, sale, free download or other offer? Simply saying “hi” and letting the world know you exist won’t cut it; you need an actionable message for your direct mail campaign that ties to your inbound or multi-channel marketing strategy.
2. Target your prospects.
Direct mail can get pricey fast if you don’t set specific parameters on who you’re trying to reach, where they reside, and what specific attributes qualify them as primary leads. Geo-targeting and demographic tools, as well as mailing lists, can help you refine your targeting efforts up front and maximize your marketing spend.
3. Drive recipients to content and resources that help them solve problems.
Here’s where inbound and outbound truly connect. A strategic, well-designed and well-written direct mail piece supplements inbound/online marketing tactics by pushing prospects to your website, your blog or a dedicated landing page where they can access a valuable free download (for example, an e-book, checklist, reference guide, coupon or more). It’s also a great way to promote upcoming events and other time-sensitive offers. Yes, you can and should pursue prospect and customer engagement through inbound tactics; but again, direct mail is another proven avenue by which these audiences can enter your sales funnel.
4. Track performance of your direct mail campaign.
Measurement is key in marketing, whether for an inbound or outbound marketing initiative. Fortunately, direct mail is highly measurable—provided it’s done correctly by utilizing unique URLs, telephone numbers, promotional codes, or even post office boxes. By using effective tracking mechanisms, you’ll have granular insight on just how effective your campaign has been to date. That insight can help you refine messaging and other campaign variables moving forward—both online and offline.
When thoughtfully implemented and carefully deployed, direct mail can lead offline prospects online, where you can delight them and create strong bonds within the broader framework of your inbound program.
Do you have questions about connecting inbound marketing and direct mail for your business? Please reach out to start a conversation. Call Alyson Kallmeyer, Senior Traffic/Production Manager, at 440-459-5958 or email Alyson.