DM isn’t dead… it just needs a re-think

May 20, 2019

Great plan for success achieving


Just a few months ago, we produced some direct marketing (DM) material for a client – with great success. Though it was far from being a traditional DM piece, its impressive response rate definitely indicates the strength of DM as a modern marketing tool.

Even just ten years ago, direct marketing (DM) was a pretty standard inclusion in any good marketing plan. It delivered impact through creative execution – the wittier and cleverer the concept, the greater likelihood it would spark a call to action (when delivered to the right audience, with the right message). Done well, it could be immensely effective.

With the advent of digital marketing, however, DM definitely took a hit. Though it did generate leads, it was costly to produce, and hard to track. Though many campaigns had specialised URLs or phone numbers, it was largely impossible to tell what happened when a person received their DM in the mail. Did they read it? For how long? Did they consider calling the number on the bottom or visiting the website? What stopped them?

Electronic direct marketing, or eDMs, changed all of this.

In comparison to flat, printed executions, eDMs are incredibly cost effective to produce and there is no limit to the number of people they can be distributed to (much better than a costly print run). But more importantly, electronic marketing enables insight, tracking and reporting to a level that marketers had never experienced before.

So where does this leave DM now?

Though traditional DM isn’t as popular as it once was, it’s important that we don’t write it off entirely. A recent article on Forbes even says:

“For marketers and business owners, one of the biggest urban legends is: Direct mail is dead. It was killed by the internet. However, it’s not just alive and well, but in fact, direct mail could be considered superior to other marketing channels based on recent statistics and studies.”

The article points to the emotional response triggered by DM and suggests this is what is at the bottom of its effectiveness. According to a recent study by UK Royal Mail, 60% of people said the emotional impact of DM made a more lasting mental impression on them, making the messaging easier to recall later on. And 57% of respondents said that postcard marketing makes them feel more valued than digital marketing and creates a more authentic relationship.


So if DM is still relevant…. how can we bring it into the future?

Today, many markers talk about “layered DM” – that is, combining DM with other tools and channels in order to ensure a campaign reaches its audience in all kinds of ways.

At Splendid, for instance, we recently had great success with a DM campaign that combined traditional and digital elements in the one execution.

In this particular campaign, we wanted to promote a software solution built on Microsoft Business Central to Australian fresh food produces and growers – an audience that doesn’t spend much time online, but a lot of time out in the field or at their warehouses. DM was therefore the perfect choice, but we needed to ensure it was done in an innovative way so as to get cut-through.

We created a DM piece with a small digital unit; pre-loaded with a short promotional video. The video played as soon as the recipient opened the DM piece. This video provided a brief overview of the solution and how it could help their business. We also “layered” this execution with a website, eDMs and social marketing. While in this instance, the video was a short corporate overview, it could also be used to showcase a hype reel, animation, case study or any other digital production.

Importantly, we also followed up the send with telemarketing to ensure we leveraged any interest sparked by the DM. The results were incredibly successful. We sent out 110 DM units and received 13 sales qualified leads, which way exceeded our client’s expectations.


Our tips for modernising DM:

Based on our success with this recent campaign, and our experience over decades of B2B marketing, we suggest the following:

  1. Be creative – unless a DM is going to really spark an emotive response, it’s probably not worth the investment.
  2. Always follow up – use telemarketing to ensure that any interest is capitalised upon.
  3. Combine technology – incorporate digital tools into your traditional DM to make sure it really stands out.
  4. Layer your channels – promote the campaign messaging in your DM across other channels if you can – such as in social channels, via eDMs and on a campaign website.

Want to find out more?

Talk to us about how you can take an innovative approach to your B2B direct marketing and make it work for your business. Get in touch.