Is Direct Mail The Comeback Kid?

Everyone loves a comeback right? Can you imagine anyone else playing the role of Iron Man other than Robert Downey Jr.? And who wasn’t excited while watching Super Bowl 51 when the Patriots came back from a 25 point deficit against the Falcons? Besides everyone rooting for the Falcons of course. 😆

I’m a huge fan of the comeback and in marketing we’re seeing exactly that.

The Direct Mail Comeback. (queue the ooh’s and ah’s)

Direct mail has gotten a bad rep in the last few years with the influx of all things digital making a splash and resulting in a “print is dead” mindset. Many consumer marketers still use the print approach especially in the food, health and beauty industries - but B2B may be missing out. Looking at it as an ABM (Account Based Marketing) strategy, the trick is to make it interesting, trackable and personal so it doesn’t seem like another flyer you’d receive for a 2 for 1 pizza.

So how do you do this?

Step 1: Do your research! Don’t just assume you can send the exact same thing to every single one of your prospects and hope for the best. Spray and pray doesn’t work - remember there is a human (at least for now!) on the other end of that campaign so put in some effort. Hint: check the company’s socials, you can always get some great ideas of what to send based on what they do as a team (new branded frisbee for their ultimate frisbee team perhaps 😉)

Step 2: Speak their language. You wouldn’t believe how many companies I’ve seen (especially tech startups) who don’t consider the language they use when trying to attract clients. If you have an AI solution that is going to “change the world” but your content reads something like “the availability of heavy datasets combined with next-generation computing architectures and deep learning improvements…” the retail brand you’re trying to impress won’t care. Put it into terms that make an impact on their business and you’ll see heads turn. Hint: The correct sentence for a retailer may have been something like “Next-gen computing to give you insights into your data to provide a better customer experience…”

Step 3: Track it! Just because it’s not a digital campaign, doesn’t mean there’s an excuse not to measure its success. Besides adding a reference code which they may or may not reference; you don’t have the option to track opens, clicks and impressions as simply as you would with a digital campaign. Follow up is key! It will allow you to get feedback on how it was received and open up the conversation. Typically you’d receive a few thank you emails but others may have gotten sidetracked. Nothing will get their attention more after sending through some delicious (and branded) cupcakes than a subject line that reads “When you lick the frosting off a cupcake, it becomes a muffin. Muffins are healthy. You’re welcome!” Hint: If you have the space, include your company Instagram or Twitter handle so if they take photos they can tag you!


Depending on budget and time, a final consideration is the merging of two worlds: the traditional and the digital. Meet Programmatic Direct mail.

Programmatic direct mail combines digital marketing technology with print to encapsulate the full customer journey and the touch points throughout. PebblePost, who claim to have invented Programmatic Direct Mail describe it as "to transform real-time online interest and intent into dynamically rendered, personalized direct mail".

Companies can create campaigns within the platform so based on a prospects activity, an action (a postcard send for example) is triggered. These can be great options for companies whose websites are a major touchpoint for sales.

The final bit is to note that with the latest and arguably greatest regulations having come in as of May – yes that’s GDPR once again – it’s important to understand the rules of engagement. According to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) companies will be able to use legitimate interests and not have to gain explicit consent (under GDPR) to contact consumers/companies by post. The ICO directly states that “The rules on calls, texts and emails are stricter than those on mail marketing, and consent must be more specific. Organisations should not take a one-size-fits-all approach”.

So whether it’s creating a mini stadium out of a shoe box the way Nike did or sending a video-in-a-card the way Oracle did (which generated over 600K in sales pipeline), direct mail can be a strategic way to reach customers and stand out in a sea of email.

As the old saying goes, your cheque’s in the mail. And this time it might just be 👊