Mail Watch: B-to-B Firms’ Tactics Solidify
Winterberry Group Director Jonathan Margulies noted recently in a whitepaper on the state of the direct mail channel that as the economy goes, so goes direct marketing spending. We've all heard by now that mail volumes plummeted in 2008, a fact borne out by Who's Mailing What! Archive research. The impact on the B-to-B sector can be seen in the 24 percent decline in mail between the March 2007-February 2008 and March 2008-February 2009 periods; the drop for all mail sectors during this time was 9.2 percent. While mail volume from B-to-B firms was rising, it dipped in 2007 and has not looked back-a nod to the internet's affect on this sector. In general, efforts appear to be more tightly targeted and integrated with online and/or phone channels to either generate or nurture leads.
Web-direct mail integration certainly drove the use of personalization in B-to-B efforts for the last 12 months; between March 2008 and February 2009, 26.6 percent of mail efforts were personalized, including name, URL and URL/PIN personalization. Sungard's cost-effective postcard, with a PURL and a Fast 500 for a top-selling IT book, is a good example (Archive code #809-271848-0902).
The factor driving format choice is cost, which means more self-mailers are hitting the B-to-B mailstream. Canon, Deluxe and Epson have been using sizes that are short and wide to peep out around more traditional mail pieces and gain attention. Otherwise, most B-to-B firms are hoping their targeting and content will trump format.
Case in point: Shipping giant FedEx mailed in February a four-panel, trifold 6" x 9" self-mailer that uses a solo customer testimonial to showcase the benefits of its shipping services and My FedEx Rewards program (Archive code #901-171996-0902). Photos and quotes from Luggage Forward Co-Founders Zeke Adkins and Aaron Kirley are juxtaposed with program sign-up instructions, program features and numerous rewards, working well together to present a compelling pitch to small business owners-a market that's always looking to maximize its ROI for every purchase. The only personalization on this piece is a small, ink-jetted message on the addressing piece that repeats the My FedEx Rewards program URL and reminds the recipient that he will need his "account number ending in 8346" to sign up-the efficacy of the sign-up process and future program hinges on the customer account.