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Direct Mail Outpulls Online: Is There a Lesson Here for B2B?


This isn’t scientific, I have no proof other than following the chatter online and a gut feeling, but I think that direct mail has been out of date for so long that it’s actually making a  comeback… and by that I mean, it’s outpulling online efforts.

Recently, I found online the comments of a gentleman whose business is/was 100% online… no hardcopy anything. Ad words, in particular, were his bread and butter. By the way, this is not a B2B product; but I think the message is still worth considering. As a test and on a bit of a whim, he built a campaign around a direct mail piece. From what I gather, the campaign look and feel were the same, just put on a card and dropped in the post.

The results? The following comes directly from his post:

So far this campaign is more profitable than previous online advertising campaigns for this particular product. And we’re anticipating that we’ll be investing way more in direct mail for this particular product versus online media.

In this case, direct mail provides 3 key benefits:

1. In this particular market, it’s far cheaper to get a letter in the mail than to pay for clicks with Google Adwords. Direct mail is roughly 15% of the cost of a single AdWords click.

2. We can target our ideal prospects, which is not always the case with online marketing (particularly search engine marketing). As a result, the leads are higher quality.

3. The response rates are solid. One likely reason for this is because more companies are shifting their marketing budgets online, which means there’s less clutter in the offline mailbox.

The last bit is something I think we’ve all been seeing. It used to be a piece of advertising sent in the post was binned without a second’s thought; now I’m excited when I get something in the mail. Times change and occasionally, not always, an overused tactic from a decade ago suddenly becomes de rigueur.


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