5 B2B Direct Mail Campaign Tips

Direct mail marketing can be incredibly effective for B2B campaigns, but it’s also tricky to get right. B2B brands typically have much lower response rates than consumer brands, but average order tends to be much higher.

In order to create effective campaigns and enjoy the benefits of acquiring new customers and increasing sales, it’s important to understand your audience. From setting up the direct mail campaign to crafting the mailers and sending them out, there are lots of things you can do to make your message count.

Why Direct Mail?

B2B direct mail

The world of marketing has been absorbed with digital media for a long time. From email and social marketing through to complex e-commerce solutions, businesses are often hesitant to get involved with this brave new world. Direct mail is the obvious solution, and it’s more powerful than ever. When you get a campaign right, direct mail provides you with a trusted way to reach out to your target market.

1. Define Your Direct Mail Campaign Strategy

All good marketing campaigns start with a plan. Whether you’re selling medical devices to doctors and hospitals or customized promotional products to businesses, you need to have a clear message and plan of attack. What are your end goals? Who is your target? What is your campaign trying to achieve?

For example, will this be a series of messages to build awareness among prospects? Are you mailing to existing active customers or is this a reactivation campaign to lapsed buyers?

2. Segment Your B2B Mailing List

An effective direct mail strategy requires the ability to measure results. If you sell x-ray machines to dentists, doctors and veterinarians, be sure to segment your mailing list so you can measure response and compare performance among the different target market professions. If you don’t segment and measure the response, you won’t be able to optimize future direct mail campaigns.

Consider the following — Veterinarians love your x-ray machines as much as the dentists and doctors do because they all share the same 0.8% response rate on your match-back report.  Sounds good, right? Before you decide to mail the same three markets again, review the sales by segment.  Here is where they might differ.

The veterinarians have the lowest average order compared to dentists and doctors.  Why?  Perhaps it’s a smaller practice that doesn’t take as many x-rays as the much larger dentist office or the orthopedic firm with several locations across town.

If your marketing budget is limited, you might need to eliminate vets and mail more catalogs to dentists and medical offices on your follow-up campaign.  Another option is to tweak your criteria to select the larger vet practices based on employee count.  You’ll generate more revenue without increasing your circulation.

3. Understand Your B2B Market and Timing

Unlike consumers who often make spontaneous buying decisions, many businesses have a very long planning/consideration cycle.  It’s important to consider timing when you plan your B2B campaign.  If your direct mail piece or catalog arrives in-home too late, you’ll miss out on key sales because you completely missed the planning cycle.

Amazing creative, fabulous products, and the optimal circulation plan cannot rescue a poorly timed mailing.  Whether it’s a dance studio planning for upcoming competitions or a city budgeting for park benches and picnic tables, make sure you understand when your target market plans and makes its decisions.

4. Choose the Right Media

Not all direct mailers are created equal, with the media you choose having a huge effect on how it’s received. While postcards might work well for some demographics, catalogs or “lumpy” mail (think personalized pens) may work better with others.

Once again, you need to do your research and find the media that resonates with your target market. It’s important to create a budget at this stage of the process, with lumpy or dimensional mailers often being highly effective but possibly cost prohibitive.

In this example by creative agency HZDG, clients received a phone headset that plugs into a cell phone or computer with a clear message to call. 

HZDG direct mail


Note – “lumpy” mail recently got a reprieve earlier this month. Last summer the USPS wanted to eliminate samples and other inflexible items that caused operational inefficiencies in its machines. The USPS wanted to limit Marketing Mail to paper-based, non-merchandise content only.  Fortunately, the USPS reconsidered their decision and will not make any changes to its content standards.

5. Clean Your Data

After segmenting and coding your mailing list, the next step is cleaning the data before you send it to the printer.  Run the files through address validation to standardize the records and append zip+4 codes to the addresses. Process the list through NCOA to catch any business moves or closed po box accounts.  Then eliminate duplicate records by running your prioritized list through merge/purge.

Creating a priority is important because you need a formal protocol in place to manage records that appear in multiple input files.

For example, if the Austin school district is an existing customer but also shows up on your prospect list, you obviously want to code and mail them the version and messaging intended for customers and not the prospect version. Merge priorities help you accomplish this.  

Contact us today if you need guidance managing direct mail campaigns or would like a comprehensive catalog audit. We can review your existing circulation strategy and make recommendations.