I’m not here to extol the benefits of direct mail. That’s trodden ground.
No, I’m on a bigger mission: to unsuck B2B marketing. And today I’m focusing on direct mail—because it's a particularly expensive place to suck.
Luckily, a separate trend is changing the way marketers think about direct mail. The recent popularity of account-based marketing (ABM) principles has cleared a path for more creative direct mail. How? Targeting a smaller, more tailored audience means that marketers can focus more energy on delivering an amazing experience—versus a narrow focus on economy and scale.
But what constitutes a great UX when it comes to direct mail?
Here are three fun examples to inspire your next direct mail initiative:
"Find Your Fortune"
Let’s start at the top of the proverbial sales funnel with a common application for dimensional mail: The door opener.
Zendesk®, an enterprise customer service software company, worked with Bulldog to create an ABM campaign to drive awareness, engagement, and meetings within (mostly cold) target retail brands across the globe.
The message: With Zendesk, you’ll provide a better experience for customers. Happier customers stay with you—which means a better future for your business.
Here’s how it worked:
The story began with a personal question ...
Because the concept of a fortune cookie is well understood in most regions of the globe, the concept required no explanation.
Each cookie featured a personalized URL—perfect for delivering a tailored digital experience and tracking engagement.
The landing page was animated to create a fluid experience, opening the cookie again. Below, an animated infographic taught audiences about customer service realities that retail businesses will face in the next few years—and how Zendesk’s solution prepares you for those challenges. The primary call-to-action: Take a demo call.
Ideas for B2B marketers:
- Make the story about your audience, not about yourself.
- Consider unconventional personalization opportunities in your everyday life.
- Integrate the physical experience with the digital experience! Campaigns work best when the next (digital) step feels fluid and seamless.
Hyperpersonalized (Faux) Event Posters
B2B agencies have to walk the walk with their own marketing. There is no shortage of marketers who preach about principles without sharing their own work.
So, here’s an example of what my team is doing right now.
This example takes us a little deeper down the funnel because my team uses direct mail as an acceleration tactic. Every week, I sit with my Marketing and Sales teams to review a performance dashboard of activity across our digital properties (media, email, web). We use our dashboards to stack rank and select the most engaged brands (and people within those brands) to receive a hyperpersonalized direct mail. We focus in on people or brands that have recently engaged digitally but haven’t accepted an introductory call with our team yet. Each week, we create a shortlist of brands to receive a set of personalized event posters.
Each poster features the recipient's name, company, location (city), references to everyday job challenges, and contact information for our team—all playfully portrayed in context of a vintage event poster.
With every poster, we include a personal letter from one of our account executives. These letters are contextual for each recipient, so they take some time to prepare. But this is about authentic communications to a few people at at handful of brands, not mass communication.
Tips for B2B marketers:
- If your print budget is small, consider using print very judiciously as a "surround sound" tactic for digitally engaged target accounts.
- Highly personalized direct mail requires regular, direct collaboration with your Sales team.
- Make the recipient of your mail the hero of your story (not yourself).
- Fun direct mail doesn’t need to be expensive. Get creative—and scrappy.
Note: If you want a poster for yourself, it's not hard to get one.
Growing with Your Customers
Too many marketing teams invest in fun experiences to win customers—and fade away after a client signs on. They trust that client success (or operations) teams will continue to surprise and delight each customer. But ... that doesn’t always happen. Many B2B brands are actively investing in lifecycle marketing efforts that go well beyond the sale.
There is a short list of companies that specialize in making this type of on-demand direct mail easier to execute. One of the newest and most active entrants to this category is Sendoso. Because client gifts are their specialty, I asked them to share a couple of examples that they use themselves.
When a client first signs on, Sendoso sends them a plant ...
To thank new clients, Sendoso sends a peace lily along with a handwritten note. It’s a symbol of life and growth—and a visual reminder that will stay in the office.
But they don’t stop there. Sendoso sends customers rewards for taking steps to help the plant grow (the first of which is to post a picture of the plant on social media, tag Sendoso, etc.).
Another challenge for many B2B marketers is educating customers about additional products or solutions (a.k.a., cross-sell and upsell opportunities) without any overbearing Sales approaches.
Again, Sendoso walks the walk–sending a gift to inspire more gifting ideas:
“24 Days of Giving” is chock-full of creative client gifting ideas.
Each window includes an illustration of a gifting idea and, of course, a piece of chocolate. All the ideas listed (including cupcakes, succulents, handwritten notes, branded footballs, and more) are items that can easily be sent through the Sendoso platform. After running the campaign, they saw a 92% YOY increase in the number of items sent during Q4, as well as a 171% increase in G2 Crowd reviews.
Tips for B2B marketers:
- Getting creative with direct mail shouldn’t stop when a prospect becomes a customer.
- Consider direct mail as a tangible, attention-grabbing way to both welcome and educate customers about additional value that you can bring.
- Executing these tactics manually is challenging. Companies like Sendoso make it more convenient.
It’s harder than ever to surprise and delight. We’ve all seen just about everything. But remember, modern B2B marketers tend to favor digital marketing tactics. And since everyone is on that train, there's an opportunity to stand out by incorporating tangible, physical tactics into your mix.
More than anything, I hope some of these examples get your creative juices flowing–and that you'll join the fight against boring B2B.