How to Make Account-Based Marketing and Direct Mail Work Together

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Seeing the success that many smaller business-to-business (B2B) organizations have had with account-based marketing (ABM), large enterprise B2B companies are working to cash in on ABM, too.

But for these larger players, with multiple business lines and product marketing teams, it’s been a lot harder to execute, particularly with direct mail and its many moving parts. How do these large, well-budgeted companies get into the ABM/direct mail game without repeating the legacy mistakes that large DTC companies make?

1. First, Consider Why Direct Mail Matters

Successfully adding direct mail to an ABM strategy requires direct marketing organizations to centralize their efforts in order to standardize and streamline all their operations. When this process is done right, organizations rediscover a channel that reliably delivers superior results while so many shiny new solutions falter and drain budgets. Look at these stats for 2019:

  • Direct mail response rate was 4.9 percent for prospect lists in 2018 and has climbed steadily over a decade.
  • In 2018, the direct mail response rate for house lists was an incredible 9 percent—nearly double from the previous year.
  • Direct mail still pulls a higher response rate than any digital marketing medium. Its response rate ranges from about five to nine times greater than that of email, paid search, or social media (source: ANA/DMA Response Rate Report 2018).

2. Why Direct Mail Works with ABM

Account-based marketing and ideal direct mail execution emphasize:  

  • Audience segmentation. Accounts are identified, and personas are developed within those accounts.
  • Content personalization. Content speaks directly to the personas and accounts that it’s created for.
  • Timing. Messaging is crafted and delivered specifically based on different actions and different points in the buyer’s journey. 
  • Reporting. Campaign results are analyzed and used to scale future programs.

Pairing direct mail with digital communications, strategically timing sends based on buyer journey and intent, and tailoring the content to the individual receiving it are all direct mail elements that will spike engagement and ROI across the board. The KPIs clarify where it makes sense to add personalized direct mail.

It’s just a question of where to begin.

3. Identifying Target Audiences through Advanced Segmentation

This should be easy. ABM marketers have already identified their target accounts; they just need to make sure they have accurate postal information for the associated contacts. Based on their bandwidth for content creation, marketers may want to group accounts by industry, size, or location for enhanced personalization. But they can segment and group their direct mail audience any way their data allows, just like with digital efforts.

Legacy processes—and their need for extensive planning, manual data operations, and tedious proofing—often block this ability to personalize and put a dent in response rates.

4. Improve Engagement with Direct Mail Personalization

It’s a fact: Recipients are more likely to engage with personalized content, and response rates climb when content is tailored to their specific interests or traits. To reach those elevated engagement rates, direct mail content should be versioned to speak directly to the recipient.

Offers are just one of the ways to personalize direct mail content. Marketers can also tailor the language and creative aspects of their content to the recipient’s age, gender, geographical location, industry, role, product interest, etc.

Unfortunately, even though they’ve identified winning campaigns, marketers have had to re-invent these formats with every new campaign. With the power of a direct mail platform behind them, cutting-edge marketing organizations are building digital libraries of direct mail formats that can be activated on-demand based on triggers and business logic.

5. Measure and Optimize Campaigns with Multivariate Testing

Multivariate testing is what unearths the findings tied to optimal formats, versioning, and personalization. Using traditional processes, though, it can take weeks to receive and analyze campaign reporting to identify, for example, which target account responds to personalization based on purchase history and gender.

To apply multivariate tests across an extensive target account list, enterprises need to align their resources, technology, and processes and take a measured approach to deliver, test, and analyze reports on account-based direct mail campaigns.

6. Create an Omnichannel Marketing Presence

Adding direct mail to an ABM strategy helps with engagement and response, period. But taking full advantage of this high-performing channel also means working in tandem with other communication streams to create a true omnichannel presence.

Direct mail should be strategically timed with your digital communications, promotions, and events and used to move contacts throughout the buyer’s journey more quickly and effectively.

7. Centralize to Scale Direct Mail

The key to activating direct mail in an ABM strategy lies in structuring internal teams, external resources, data sources, and technologies to align on the same processes, protocols, and workflows.

Digital transforming with a centralized direct mail platform can pull together business units, data sources, agencies, and vendors so enterprises can streamline integrations, optimize costs, and provide transparency and efficiencies across the organization. The result is optimized direct mail that resonates and is relevant to customers and prospects.

KleerMail CEO Chris Nolan relies on 20 years of experience as a direct marketing leader and innovator to guide the KleerMail solution—using digital technology and artificial intelligence to help enterprise businesses streamline their direct mail campaigns, align their direct marketing channels, increase their capabilities, and improve their performance.

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