Account Based Marketing is the buzzword of 2016 but isn’t a new idea. Sales teams have been selling to prime accounts, taking a targeted, laser-focused approach for a long time. One of the keys to winning this sort of sale is building an honest, empathic customer experience. You’ve got to connect with prospects on all channels.
One channel that doesn’t see a lot of traffic is direct mail. It is also one of the most effective channels – touting a 3.7% response rate and is even more effective when combined with a digital channel like email.
At PFL, we’re huge fans of direct mail – it’s the centerpiece of a lot of our MarTech solutions and the centerpiece of our own ABM campaigns. Using direct mail in an ABM campaign requires a different approach and we thought sharing what we’ve learned from our own campaigns will help you incorporate this responsive, engaging channel into your ABM strategy.
The Reality of Real Stuff Marketing
There are black marks against direct mail: it’s expensive, slow, and can’t be measured. That was all true – decades ago, you know, before the Internet.
Now, direct mail is programmatic, scalable, and works with digital channels, building a true multi-channel experience that’s triggered by user behavior and fits neatly into your existing tech stack.
Direct mail works best when it is personalized for your specific account, or even better, for contacts within that account.
Direct mail’s power lies in engaging your audience, building a powerful connection, and leaving a physical, permanent ambassador of your message.
It can build a memorable VIP experience, which is the real value of a physical channel like direct mail. Here are real-world tips to help you successfully incorporate direct mail into your ABM efforts:
4 Tips for Adding Direct Mail to your ABM Campaign
1) Create a targeted account list for your direct mail send
As with any other marketing campaign, an important first step with ABM is to identify your best audience i.e. define your ICP and create a target account list for your DM campaign.
A good rule of thumb is to build out segments of your target accounts using fit (attributes about the business), behavioral (first-party activity data), and intent (third-party activity data) data. You can get this information from your CRM, marketing automation, and predictive platform.
Once you have your target account list, you want to identify specific contacts that you want to reach from each account. Understand key attributes about each contact to help personalize your direct mail efforts. Are they decision makers, stakeholders involved in the buying process, potential users of your product, etc.? Targeting specific people is where direct mail can really shine, and the more info you can get on them the better.
How to use predictive to build your target account list
There are multiple factors that can affect the outcome of your direct mail efforts – a lot of which is not easily identifiable or readily available to your team. That’s where a predictive platform like Radius can help out.
The benefit of using predictive in ABM is that you can process more information than you could with manual scoring and selection processes.
The majority of ABM programs have a list of targeted accounts in the 500 to 2,000 range, so that’s still a lot of activity to track manually. Predictive is one thing that enables companies to scale their ABM efforts, something which was not possible even a few years ago.
Megan Heuer, SiriusDecisions
Here are two examples of how you can use predictive to drive better insights into your direct mail campaign:
- Build a larger, high-converting target account list. With predictive, you can identify existing accounts that are most likely to convert by scoring them based on firmographics, technographics, and other key business signals. You can also source net-new accounts from your highest propensity segments by leveraging an external data source like the Radius Business Graph.
- Create personalized campaigns based on key business signals drawn from predictive. Once you identify your target accounts, you can segment them based on firmographic and technographic attributes. Subsequently, you can create specific messaging for each of these micro-segments ensuring higher conversions and engagement due to better personalization.
2) Build a focused campaign based on key marketing objectives
There are so many ideas for what to send in your ABM campaign that decision paralysis is a real problem. When designing your direct mail send, think about what you want the piece to do, how much you can spend on it, and who it will reach. The cadence of the send and the follow-up is critical.
Here are some ideas from our own ABM campaigns:
Personalize direct mail for your target accounts. Let’s put this myth to rest right away: direct mail can be extremely personalized. It’s also a great way to generate ideas for your DM campaigns. You can include specific contact information, copy, and images tailored to an account’s pain points and past interactions. For example, add a company logo or a prospect’s Twitter handle to a mailer. This personalization can also be automated using your existing technology so it’s scalable if you’re reaching out to a lot of contacts from the same account.
Build your top-funnel DM strategy with low-cost mailers. A low cost, flat mailer – a postcard – is a great first touch for direct mail. Their strength is in their low cost. We’ve even used them to verify addresses. Of course, you don’t want to do this with thousand of sends unless you’ve got a way to automate checking returned mail against your list. You could also add low-cost extras to our mailers like we did with a packet of Starbucks Via instant coffee.
Send a group gift or Swag Bomb to a larger audience. Most ABM campaigns focus on targeting the high-level decision makers but sometimes it makes sense to hit influencers that will have a deep, sustained impact on those decision makers. We’ve sent gift boxes that target entire teams, departments, or even divisions within a company to get our message out there. This sort of direct mail trades in-depth personalization for more quantity – a different tactic that can build buzz for your brand.
Bundle high-converting content into a handy kit. Send your best content – white papers, case studies, infographics – in a fun kit. We’re a fan of boxes because even the simple act of opening a box engages on a human level. You’re targeting an account, but you’re messaging to a single person. Giving them something to hold, touch, feel and see will make sure they actually read your content.
Incentivize bottom-funnel activities with rewards. We call this idea the ‘meeting maker’ simply because direct mail has been the single most effective channel for scoring meetings with decision makers. We’ve found great traction in sending a highly-personalized kit that promises a big reward if an account schedules and attends a demo of our solutions. Our clients have seen a lot of success with this strategy too – with an average response rate of 14% and being able to land difficult meetings with top decision makers in their target accounts.
3) Combine direct mail & digital to create a true multi-channel strategy
Direct mail works best in an ABM campaign if you can tie it to specific actions within your accounts. Did your meeting maker work? How quickly did the account respond to the meeting maker? Did you generate some influencer interest with a department-wide gift? How can you build on the momentum from your direct mail campaign?
We’ve found direct mail works best when it leads to a digital action or touchpoint. This doesn’t mean you should plaster PURLs and QR scan codes (no one uses that stuff, don’t kid yourself) all over your direct mail. Instead follow up your direct mail send with an email, which we found works best. Direct mail primes your prospect to respond, so when your email shows up they’re more likely to open and engage with your email. The added bonus is that digital actions are, obviously, easier to track and feed into your marketing automation system.
Here are some other ideas to combine digital channels with direct mail:
- Follow up your direct mail with an email or phone call.
- Set your retargeting ads to reference the direct mail sends after the direct mail has been received – even a subtle change in creative can elicit results.
- Go all out and make a personalized landing page for your account, reference it within your direct mail sends.
- Send an email before you send your direct mail, giving your contact a head’s up that something is coming.
- Use digital channels to measure direct mail’s performance – drive the user to a personalized URL and track the time from delivery to on-page engagement, the shorter the gap the better the direct mail resonated.
- Use your marketing automation platform to trigger the send of direct mail based on an account’s interaction with your campaign assets – did they download a white paper? Send them a low-cost mailer that builds on the previous interaction.
4) Nurture target accounts after the deal with direct mail
ABM is about building singular, important relationships, why abandon them after the deal is closed? Direct mail is a great component of ongoing nurturing, advocacy, and onboarding / customer success programs. Use direct mail to send your new customer a welcome kit with best practices, tips, and contact info that will put them on the right path.
Have specific, important contacts within your account? Congratulate them when they’ve hit a personal or professional milestone. This sort of attention carries ABM into its natural conclusion: a vocal advocate.
Wrapping It Up
It’s now easier than ever to add direct mail to your ABM campaign and build a memorable, rewarding customer experience. Direct mail doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming, or difficult to measure. So get out there and start amplifying your digital efforts with an equally engaging direct mail strategy.
Want more direct mail ideas for your marketing campaigns? Check out our Tactile Marketing Automation idea book.