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August 6, 2014

How and When to Use Direct Mail as Part of Your Inbound Marketing Strategy

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76800451Direct mail is an industry that got hit pretty hard. I think the chart below says it all. But, why did it get hit so hard? Do people really hate direct mail? Well, some do and some don't. Actually, 18-34 year olds actually prefer direct mail!

In reality, direct mail was hit hard for a few reasons (a topic for another post), but a couple of those reasons are that email appeared to be a good substitute and buying behavior shifted dramatically (if you haven't read ZMOT - go read it now).

So, what can you do today to make your direct mail campaigns effective by making them a little bit more "inbound"?

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What is Your Goal for the Campaign?

When thinking about your direct mail campaign, you still need to consider the high level objectives. Is this person a prospect, a warm lead or perhaps a customer? This alone will change your strategy for the campaign.

Let's assume this person is a cold prospect. Put yourself in the prospect's shoes and imagine they were searching on Google for your product or service (remember ZMOT above?). What would they be looking for? Most likely they would be looking for high level information.

So, take the inbound approach and alert them to a free guide they can receive by going to a targeted landing page on your website. Don't try to sell them on the first mailing. Deliver them educational information and try to capture an email address.

Now you've successfully done two things. First, you've delivered something they might actually care about and built some credibility. And second, you've captured an email and can move your marketing messages to a more cost effective channel for nurturing.

Remember at the beginning of this post when I said email appeared to be a good substitute for direct mail? Well, it turns out it's not in terms of generating a response. However, email is one of the best channels for nurturing an existing lead.  So, use direct mail to get extremely targeted in your approach and then move prospects online for nurturing.

When Should You Use Direct Mail?

Direct mail is great for targeting in on a specific audience or geo-location. You can also target demographics that are quite difficult to target online such as household income, age, marital status and more. You can only be targeted to a certain degree with a content marketing strategy.  People that may or may not be your personas will find your content.

With direct mail, you can rent lists that zero in on your personas in laser-like fashion.  Use that to your advantage.  Target them offline, move them online and then use your content strategy and email strategy to create sales opportunities for your organization.

Direct mail is also a great way to boost or run a campaign that coincides with your overall inbound marketing strategy. Let's say you're promoting an open house or local event on your website and to your email list. Why not send a series of postcards to your target audience that sends them to the registration page or a place they can get more information on your website?

Again, you can send postcards to a target audience in a specific radius or geographical locations. Direct mail is actually very "inboundy" because it's measurable.  You can track results based on tracking phone numbers, coupon codes, or specific landing page URLs.  

Do's/Don'ts for Making Your Direct Mail "Inboundy"

Here's a quick list of do's and don'ts to get your direct mail campaigns rolling in the right direction:

DO link to educational offers like e-books, whitepapers and case studies.

DON'T try to sell on the first mailing (or even the 2nd or 3rd).

DO use direct mail to target people that are tough to reach online.

DON'T have more than 1 call to action.

DO use direct mail to reach more of the people you're reaching online. Use it to boost campaigns.

DON'T have too much information. Use the visual, tangible aspect of mail to drive a prospect to the web for more information.

What do you think? Can direct mail support your inbound efforts? Have you seen success with direct mail by taking a more inbound approach? I'd love to hear from you!

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