On the surface, the term “direct mail” doesn’t seem to jibe with the instant connectivity of the online age, where information is shared in seconds instead of days. After all, they call it “snail mail” for a reason. Even so, direct mail is enjoying greater success rates now than it ever has. Consider these statistics:

  • Direct mail has a 37% higher response rate than cold emails
  • Direct mail boosted ROI by 20% when it was part of a multi-channel marketing campaign
  • When combined with digital ads, direct mail yields a 28% higher conversion rate

The ironic thing is that direct mail succeeds precisely because it’s a physical, tactile form of advertising, not despite it. DM initiatives show a level of time and commitment that doesn’t typically come across in digital marketing. And on average, everyone, from millennials to baby boomers, notice direct mail more than digital advertising—although combining the two results in a highly effective and super-charged multi-channel marketing strategy.

So now that we have the hard numbers to establish direct mail’s benefits, let’s look at three major types of DM campaigns and how you can leverage them for improved marketing success.

Brand Awareness

Think of brand awareness mailers as a friendly knock on the door to your target audience. Maybe you’re a new company and your B2B targets don’t know you yet. Introduce yourself with this direct-mail strategy, which should focus on relevant info rather than any call to action. That isn’t to say you can’t include incentives for the recipient. Some B2Bs send copies of trade magazines or other useful information.

Be sure to get creative with the labels and packaging. The sky’s the limit as far as the design of your mailers is concerned, provided that mailer is timely, relevant, and keeping with the theme of your company. For inspiration, check out this Pinterest featuring 30 downright incredible examples of direct mail marketing.

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Appointment mailers are where many marketers focus their efforts, because these types of promotional materials are geared towards converting leads to opportunities.

As the name suggests, the main purpose of these mailers is to land an actual meeting with the recipient. Therefore, they typically include attractive CTAs and incentives.

One of the more successful recent examples of appointment direct mail marketing was the brainchild of Heinz Marketing. Their president, Matt Heinz, sent empty iPad boxes to leads with a note saying that they would receive the actual iPad at the meeting.

The results were predictably successful: they generated twice as many appointments as they sent out as they gave away iPads. Now, Whether the flagrant offering of a cool tech product in exchange for a meeting is shameless or not is in the eye of the beholder. The bottom line is that the tactic worked like a dream.


What do you do after you’ve landed that big client or customer? The next step is turning them into brand ambassadors, of course. So rather than resting on your laurels, you need to keep working and get them to spread the word about how great your product or service is. In the direct-mail world, the most effective way to achieve this is through advocacy mailers.

Start sending your customers branded boxes with custom swag and other goodies. The key is to personalize it, as personalization in any marketing channel is going to yield greater results. After all, 78% of consumers will only be amenable to new offers if the brand in question has personalized the sales process in the past.

A prime example of this is British telecommunications company O2. At one point they noticed the changing needs of their B2B customers. To address this they created a personalized direct-mail campaign called Meet Dave, which targeted their top customers. The “Dave” in question was a hologram (that’s right, a hologram) that appeared when the customer opened the mailer box and which offered personalized messages and company info. As a result, 02 got their customers’ attention and earned themselves a reputation as digital disruptors in the industry.

Now, holograms may not be feasible for every company, but O2’s Meet Dave campaign illustrates a fundamental strategy to direct-mail success: be bold and push the limits, as it will only help to set you apart from the competition.


In the end, you’ll want to adhere to the main tenets of creativity and relevancy when designing your mailer. But there are other best practices too. Design the text of your mailer for easy skimming, incorporate bold visuals and 3D design when possible, and always send your mailer in unique packaging (or at least FedEx or UPS packaging). All of this will help to set your brand apart from plain old promotional materials sent in white envelopes that are likely cluttering the desks of your recipients and will forever remain unopened.

Ryan Gould
Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services
Elevation Marketing
From legacy Fortune 100 institutions to inventive start-ups, Ryan brings extensive experience with a wide range of B2B clients. He skillfully architects and manages the delivery of integrated marketing programs, and believes strongly in strategy, not just tactics, that effectively aligns sales and marketing teams within organizations

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