When you think of Account-Based Marketing (ABM), what sort of words come to mind? Most likely terms like personalized, targeted, impactful.
What about tangible? Maybe you’ve never related direct mail to ABM, but it can help your campaign increase real human connections and response rates.
Tangible pieces like direct mail can augment your digital practices and gain higher response rates than email alone. According to a recent Info Trends report, response rates jump from 7.4% (print only) and 7.9% (email only) to 9.5% when the campaigns are multichannel. Direct mail’s engagement rate is very high, with two-thirds of direct mail being handled. The integration of direct mail into your ABM campaign can be both strategic and scalable. In this guide, we’ll show you just how to do it!
Direct mail is a must-have for great ABM.
Direct mail is memorable, forges stronger connections than digital messages and can leverage the law of reciprocity to boost your response rates.
Within an ABM campaign, direct mail can cause a lot of chatter between decision-makers and influencers, getting everyone on the same page to at least discuss your solution.
Why? ABM campaigns have a holistic focus, targeting everyone involved in a specific account. Direct mail can create strong connections with your marketing message and keep your solution top of mind while generating buzz, discussion and even advocacy within the account.
In a recent study, market research firm Millward Brown joined with Bangor University’s Centre for Experimental Consumer Psychology to test the effect of direct mail on the brain. Using MRI technology, scientists saw how the brain reacted when viewing a piece of digital communication and a physical copy. They found the physical piece left a much deeper footprint on the brain.
Direct mail engages parts of the brain that have to do with visual and spatial information, “suggesting that physical material is more ‘real’ to the brain. It has a meaning, and a place.” This connects direct mail to your prospect’s memory and emotional centers, creating a powerful connection unique to tangible marketing.
“You have to remember that the whole point of ABM is that its— Jon Miller, CEO of Engagio
spearfishing. You have to reach out to the right people inthe account. That means outbound channels like direct mail, which is a great door opener. People get hundreds of emails a day, and probably get one or two packages a week. Direct mail is a really good way to break through the noise.”
By incorporating direct mail into your ABM efforts you can:
- Spread brand awareness across your target account
- Create memorable connections with your accounts
- Improve engagement rates
- Accelerate sales pipeline
- Improve the success rate of your ABM strategy
“Direct mail is the new black in B2B. There is nothing more personalized than a handwritten note with a personalized direct mail that is fully customized for your prospect or customer.”— Sangram Vajre, CMO of Terminus.
Using direct mail in your ABM campaign.
If you don’t know how to send the right direct mail piece to the right person, at the right time, you won’t get far. It is critical to leverage the science behind direct mail.
The kind of direct mail you send to your target accounts depends on factors such as:
- Buyer Journey Stage
1. Determining Factor
The Buyer Journey Stage
The direct mail send has to follow the basic principles of the buyer’s journey: you wouldn’t send awareness-building content to someone that has already been engaged several times.
Map out how you want to engage prospects with direct mail, when it makes sense, and what behaviors trigger direct mail sends. We have a few examples for you on the following pages.
“Don’t start pounding the phone once you’ve got your list, warm-up not just the lead, but also the entire account (all the people in that department and executive team) with advertising and direct mail i.e. non-interruptive messages. This way you are “warming up” the account proactively before sales starts calling them. It creates a halo-effect around the company stakeholders and an affinity to your brand, making you more likely to get appointments and demos with your target company.”— Sangram Vajre, CMO of Terminus
Buyer Journey Stage Example Build Awareness, Pique Interest
Brand awareness across the organization is critical to the success of your ABM efforts. Direct mail can help warm up an account before you start reaching out via phone and digital to sell.
You have a brand champion at your target account, but he’s just one voice in a big company. There are 4 stakeholders that have to sign off before you can move the deal forward. It’s been almost impossible to get them together, much less to agree that your solution is the one they need.
Help your champion by providing extra awareness of your solution in the organization. Send your champion a key and send stakeholders a locked box with a message that prompts them to visit the champion to unlock the box. Inside the box are a few handouts that demonstrate ROI and some branded coffee mugs. This will start a conversation on their end. Your sales team will receive delivery alerts, so that they can step in and direct the flow, pulling them closer to a deal. You have web personalization and follow-up emails with additional resources to round out the personalized experience.
Buyer Journey Stage Example Demo Commitment
Getting commitment for a demo or meeting is a very good step in the right direction, but it can also be the hardest step. A high-impact direct mail piece is often the perfect catalyst to reignite that stalled or slow deal.
After a flurry of emails and voice mails, your sales executive is struggling to schedule a demo with a decision-maker at the target company.
It’s time to make an offer the decision-maker can’t refuse. Set up your marketing automation to identify opportunities that have stalled and trigger the send of a package that includes a personalized note, a branded presentation, and a die-cut print out of an Apple watch.
The offer is straightforward and compelling: If they’re willing to take a demo with the executive, they’ll receive the real watch. Your sales executive will receive a package delivery alert from your automation system, allowing them to make a perfectly timed follow-up call.
Buyer Journey Stage Example Close the Deal
The courtship is well underway, and love (for your products and services) is in the air. And while the proposals have been crafted, the coveted signature hasn’t appeared anywhere. It’s time to open the throttle for increased sales velocity and tap into the power of packages.
Legal sent the redlined contract back to the prospect. It’s in the hands of the decision-maker, but he’s been so busy that he hasn’t been able to put that last critical piece on it: his signature. You need to drive a sense of urgency and compel him to sign.
Set up your marketing automation to identify opportunities that have been sitting in the negotiation stage for over a week and then trigger the send of a branded, custom package. The package includes a personalized note and a remote control for a high-end quadcopter. The offer is simple: When the signed contract is back in your sales executive’s hands, you’ll send the actual flying unit to accompany the remote.
Your proactive outreach and the offer will help to move the deal forward, and his inner 8-year-old will love the aerial acrobatics.
Pro Tip: TIERED SPENDING
Matching the price of the item to the buyer stage makes economic sense. It’s best to stick to creative but lower-cost items in your initial touches. Think of this as low risk, low reward. Likewise, you’ll see better results if you send a prospect at the bottom of the funnel a higher value, higher impact piece.
“Because account lists are more targeted, especially for tier 1 and 2 accounts, you’re not going after that many accounts. The economics of sending very high-end mail pieces can really make sense. We talked to one customer who sent their top 50 accounts (CIO) an iPad. On the iPad there was a pre-recorded, custom video specifically directed to the recipient. That approach made sense because there are only 50 accounts, and each one is worth upwards of $1 million if it closes. So when it’s a focused list and big potential deals, you can do some very cool things with tactile mail.”— Jon Miller, CEO Engagio
2. Determining Factor PERSONA
An average of 17 different people are involved in the decision-making process for enterprise purchases and each of those people will pull a different weight in that decision. Each will also have different needs, pain points, goals, motivations, etc. These could vary depending on whether or not you’re talking to sales versus marketing, operational people versus managers and directors and so on, so it’s important that you keep direct mail sends aligned with a prospect’s persona and role in the buying cycle.
And don’t always target just the decision makers. Buy-in from influencers is crucial as well, and the shareable nature of tangible marketing collateral will kick start a conversation about you. Chatter among influencers can grow into a storm decision-makers can’t ignore. Lower cost sends make sense to this audience, but they will still be meaningful and engaging.
The obvious challenge to including direct mail in an ABM campaign is scalability. Who has time to research every person in a prospect company and make a specific direct mail piece for each? Consider defining group personas ahead of time and creating a list of items you might send based on those personas.
You can also create direct mail pieces that have variable content and images that speak directly to the persona’s pain points and goals. When your direct mail sends are orchestrated from within your marketing automation platform or CRM, you can automatically populate the variable content fields and trigger the send of direct mail pieces on demand.
Pro Tip: KEEP IT PERSONAL
Use variable data technology to print personalized messages for each member of the account. You could address them by name and title, tailor specific pain points for their persona or include a special mention toward one of their interests. Personalization elevates direct mail into a new category, delighting and engaging your prospect.
3. Determining Factor PERSONALITY
The key to great ABM is personalization. Personalize by persona, but then kick things up a notch later in the sales cycle with “personality” personalization. Take information from sales conversations and social profiles to identify things the prospect enjoys, such as food, outdoor activities, travel, etc. Then surprise and delight that prospect with a direct mail package that ties into their interests and a note that prompts them to complete the desired behavior, whether it is to give you a call back or sign the contract.
People who receive packages are 10 times more likely to act when asked for something in return, so this can be a highly effective tool for your sales team. Just as you did with personas, you can make this strategy scalable by grouping personality interests into categories and then choosing a direct mail package for each.
How to send direct mail within an ABM campaign.
Direct mail can be integrated into any automated ABM campaign (with the help of PFL’s solutions). This allows you to send mail at different times to influencers or decision-makers within the same account. You can trigger the send of direct mail based on user behavior. For example, you can trigger the send of “meeting maker” packages to decision makers once your account reaches a specified score threshold. Or, you can trigger the send of a printed guide book when you haven’t seen engagement from an account contact in over a week.
The key to using direct mail in an ABM campaign is keeping it multi-channel. Direct mail should never be set-and-forget—your efforts will be much more successful when integrated with account-based emails, phone calls and web personalization. This way contacts will get a consistent set of messages across the channels, progressing them through their path to purchase. Check out our example campaign (note the language and design choices for each persona).
“We’ll start with direct mail as the centerpiece of our marketing campaign, and then layer in display advertising, social, emails and outbound calls to create a true omni-channel experience for our target accounts. We’ve found that high-impact direct mail pieces are one of the most effective ways to get our foot in the door at large enterprise accounts where we’ve previously not seen much success.”— Julia Stead, Director of Demand Generation at Invoca
Direct mail allows for marketing and sales alignment.
Sales and marketing alignment goes far beyond the preliminary research stages.
With the right technology, your marketing department can create an ABM campaign that involves direct mail and give your sales team complete visibility into the full customer journey. Thanks to its integrated capability, direct mail triggers can be dropped into an automated campaign, mixing right in with your digital efforts. This sets account executives up to receive notifications when a package is sent as well as when it’s delivered so they can time their communication perfectly.
Imagine the effect of a phone call to a prospect from your account executive just minutes after your direct mail piece has been signed for. The package removes the obstacle of the cold open or the stale message and opens up an organic dialogue for greater customer experience.
Measuring the success of direct mail’s role in ABM.
Not only does the integration of direct mail allow you to track its whereabouts, you can track its success as well. There are a few different ways to track the engagement and response of your direct mail piece, but all of them boil down to one tactic: driving digital action with direct mail.
You can gain visibility into response with items like QR codes, trackable phone numbers, personalized URLs, or specified hashtags for the recipient to use via social media. All of the results can be tracked with reporting tools within marketing automation that let you see which items within your ABM campaign are performing well. This lets you adjust your sends for better engagement and response for each recipient.
Making direct mail look good.
When thinking about direct mail, it’s easy to picture flat mailers and coupon codes. But just like any medium in marketing, direct mail is what you make it.
Sending direct mail is one of those rare creative moments most marketers dream of. At first glance you may think you’re simply sending coffee mugs or assorted sweets, but what you’re really sending is your brand in a box.
What do you want it to communicate to your potential customers? Is your brand one of inspiration, and motivation? The kind that pushes people to challenge their potential and find out what they’re made of? Maybe you’re the kind of brand that constantly affirms and reminds people that they’re part of something bigger and more beautiful than just themselves. Or perhaps you embody security, trust, and peace of mind to your customers.
Whatever it is, direct mail is a portable experience of that brand. It’s not often in marketing that you get to do something outside of the digital realm. Direct mail is your chance to give life to your brand, to get prospects to sink their fingers into it and turn it over in their hands. Don’t waste it.
Direct mail examples.
We’ve seen some incredible pieces come and go through our doors that are a true testament to the creative potential that comes with direct mail. Consider options like these that shatter any assumed constraints that direct mail is made up of merely postcards and cardboard boxes.
It can be a real challenge to get your foot in the door at target accounts. MapR’s “Message in a Bottle” piece is a great example of a mailer that demands attention. Pair it with coordinated digital and phone outreach and your foot will officially be in the door!
Account-Based Marketing shouldn’t end once the deal is closed. LiveRamp uses this welcome kit to kick off a strong, healthy relationship with new members of their Partner Program. The fortunes in the cookies predict their future shared success.
This kit by Nimble Storage uses eye-catching colors, highlighted pain points and a clear call to action to drive recipients to sign up for a meeting. While the same information could be conveyed on a postcard, this piece is targeted to account contacts who have reached a certain engagement threshold, so it’s more effective (and worth the extra cost) to use a higher-impact piece.
Best practices for creating actionable direct mail.
CLEAR CALL TO ACTION.
Create a clear call to action. Don’t hide it, make it bold, make it obvious. Also, keep the call to action simple. Shorten URLs or, even better, use a personalized URL (PURL) to make the call even more memorable.
LESS IS MORE.
Keep the message short and to the point. Keep your art simple as well.
Direct mail works great with a fear of missing out (FOMO) message. If that applies to your brand, try it in a direct mail campaign.
WRAPPING IT ALL UP
Let direct mail give you a competitive edge.
Your competitors are working just as hard as you to reach and secure the same prospects. In the borrowed words of Mark Cuban, you’ve got to “work like there is someone working 24 hours to take it all away from you,” because they are. Branching out into effective channels like direct mail gives an edge over the competition that builds real, personal relationships with your prospects. The time has come to switch on all your engines. What are you waiting for?