Everything You Need to Know About Using Direct Mail in Sales

The research is in and it’s powerful. XANT Labs recently finished a first of its kind study on direct mailers.

A direct mailer is a physical item (note, gifts, etc) mailed to a prospect or customer to initiate a conversation or build a relationship. Direct mailers are simply another form of communication. Most people know and use phone, text, voicemail, email, and social, but they don’t use mailers and they should.

Direct mail has become the norm in business to consumer (B2C) sales where studies show “40% of consumers have made a purchase in the last three months because of a piece of direct mail they received.” Business to Business (B2B) has lagged behind in their use of direct mail with only 38.5% of companies reporting they use direct mail and only 30% reporting using it in prospecting activities. This dynamic appears to be changing as data shows that of B2B sales technologies, direct mail capabilities is in the top five in expected growth for 2018 (11.4%).

To better understand this important communication method and its effects in the B2B environment, XANT Labs commissioned a study with 330 respondents. These were B2B associates, managers, and leaders. We tried to understand the opinions of those that may send or receive direct mail.

Sending Direct Mail

Only 38.5% of companies report using direct mail as part of their business. The main reasons companies do not use mailers is cost (44.3%) and time (22.9%). One XANT Labs experiment showed it took 58 minutes to write and send one handwritten note with an estimated cost of time and goods at $48.01.

Medium size organizations ($50-$500 million in revenue) are the largest adopters of direct mail (53.1%). This is 81.8% higher than large companies ($500 million in revenue). Of companies who use direct mail, the average number of pieces sent in a given month is 151.6.

How Do Companies Use Direct Mail?

Our study had some interesting results in respects to the effectiveness and use cases for direct mail. We could see what companies were actually using and what works for them. Here’s what we found out:

  • The most cost effective and the most popular direct mail items are cards (44.2% of companies send either printed or handwritten notes)
  • The most common use case for direct mail is attempting to initiate a conversation with a prospect (41.2%).
  • Welcoming a new client who has recently signed up with your company is the second most popular use case (21.1%).
  • The most common offer in mailers is information with a basic call to action (43.7%).

Of companies surveyed, the biggest challenge in sending direct mailers, is determining the right people to send them to (27.3%) and verifying the physical address (19.8%).

Why Direct Mail Trumps Email

Overall, direct mail had the highest perceived response rate among any communication method with 66.1% of respondents saying they were likely to respond to a direct mail piece. This was 34.7% better than the perceived response rate with email.

Interestingly, leaders follow a similar pattern as the general audience as 65.6% of leaders said they were likely to respond to direct mailers. As far as which direct mail is more effective, we got some info for you:

  • Respondents were most likely to respond to handwritten notes (77.1% say they respond to this type of direct mail)
  • Pens and mugs were the most popular gifts
  • Amazon and Starbucks were the most popular gift cards
  • Cheap gifts with a perceived value under $11.40 (average) reflected poorly on the response rates and the image of a company sending the gift.

When asked what category of gifts were most persuasive, respondents said they were more likely to respond to useful gifts (47.3%) than edible gifts (3.7%) by 43.6 percentage points.

Conclusion: It’s the Message, Not the Gift!

Most respondents said mailers played a large role in their likeliness to respond. However, the combination of mailers in conjunction with strong messaging was the most powerful. The ability of the rep to personalize the message and have a compelling offer were the two strongest reasons prospects responded to direct mailers.

That’s a wrap. If you’d like to learn more about direct mailers grab our GamePlan here:

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