7 B2B Direct Mail Campaign Ideas to Boost Your Response Rate

7 B2B Direct Mail Campaign Ideas to Boost Your Response Rate

Many think direct mail is dead, but the truth is that it still holds relevance in today’s digital world. In fact, direct mail is the best-performing direct response channel, bringing in results “10 to 30 times better than email” according to Sumo.

And, let’s be honest, there’s a certain amount of excitement that comes with opening a physical letter or package addressed to you and not knowing what’s inside. Evidence of this is the fact that 47% of millennials check their physical mailbox each day and consider going through their direct mail a leisurely activity, according to USPS.

Additionally, USPS found that 69% of people think direct mail is more personal than the internet. This makes sense when you think about the fact that we’re bombarded with generic, automated emails every day. Receiving something by mail isn’t as common and requires more effort. This makes it a unique way to reach prospects and customers.

So, whether you’re thinking about creating a direct mail campaign or you’ve tried it before and didn’t achieve your intended results, we’re offering you some ideas and strategies to help you boost your direct mail response rate.

1. Make your design stand out

We’ve all heard the phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” But when it comes to direct mail, that’s exactly what your audience will be doing. Design is vital because it’s what will grab your viewer’s attention and make them want to read more. Instead of a flat piece of paper in a plain envelope, try a 3-dimensional design. Dimensional mailers include boxes, containers, tubes, and bags. People likely won’t throw out a package without at least seeing what’s inside first, evidence being that dimensional mailers have a nearly 100% open rate.

2. Personalize content

If you work in marketing, you know it never hurts to personalize content. It’s a great way to make your marketing messages feel more like one-on-one communication. Not to mention, when it comes to direct mail, people are more likely to read something that’s addressed directly to them. But, rather than simply showing your prospect that you know their name, try something more creative. For example, PURLs are website addresses that are personalized for each of your prospects. You can use them to take each prospect to a personalized landing page with a special offer. They are also the easiest way to track responses. According to the DMA, the top response rate tracking methods are PURLs (61%), followed by call center or telephone (53%), and code or coupon (42%).

3. Add human elements

Just like email marketing campaigns, direct mail campaigns are made better by human elements such as pictures, quotes, testimonials, and videos. Give people a feel for your brand’s personality through design and copywriting elements like font, color, tone, and writing style. In addition, real stories about your product and how it solved a problem for someone can be powerful, especially when you include a photo of that person. People may be able to relate to that person’s struggle and feel inclined to learn more.

4. Create urgency

When it comes to direct mail, you want to encourage your prospects to act fast. If they don’t, odds are your direct mail will end up in the trash. It helps to use language like “limited time,” “one time only,” “last chance,” or “before it’s gone.” No one wants to miss out on a great deal so it’s important to do all you can to inspire them to take action. Also, it’s important to note that it’s been proven that warmer colors create more urgency and drive action. For this reason, it’s best to opt for a red CTA rather than a green one. You can also create urgency through social proof, such as pointing out the number of customers who have seen success with your product or service.

5. Offer a free gift

While free gifts are always great, you want to ensure you’re providing prospects with something they will actually find valuable. According to HubSpot, Heinz Marketing sent their top prospects empty iPad boxes with a note that promised to give them the iPad if they were willing to sit down and have a conversation with them. Matt Heinz said “we’ve done this with a few companies, and we generate twice as many appointments as we give away iPads.” Although this strategy is expensive, the results were impressive and they received a considerable return on their investment. Moral of the story: don’t hesitate to get creative when it comes to offering a free gift.

6. Focus on benefits, not features

Rather than focusing on the specific features of your product, you’ll want to emphasize the benefits. For example, a prospect will care less about the fact that you offer automation software and more about the fact that you can help them streamline their work. According to Jay Levinson and Al Lautenslager of Guerrilla Marketing, “the most compelling benefits are those that provide emotional or financial return.” An emotional return could be increasing customer satisfaction, while a financial return will likely be related to increasing revenue. Above all, be sure to communicate the value you’re offering customers in a short, concise way. If you do feel inclined to mention features, you should only do so as a means of proof as to how you’re able to provide certain benefits.

7. Make it easy to get in touch

Whether it’s visiting a website, calling a number, or using a discount code, you’ll want to include a clear call-to-action, making it as easy as possible for a prospect to take the next step. You should include your CTA several times throughout the letter since not every prospect will read your mailer from beginning to end. Also, by using a vanity number, you can make it easier for people to remember (1-800-DIRECT-MAIL). Since the CTA is what leads to a response from your direct mail recipients, it’s highly important that you make it bold and enticing. In addition, be sure you have a process in place for following up with prospects who click on the CTA.

As with any marketing tactic, direct mail cannot be a siloed channel and should always be used as one tactic in a broader campaign. If you’re looking to use direct mail in an upcoming campaign and need a marketing partner to help you get things up and running, contact us.

The Best Email Subject Lines For Sales

The Best Email Subject Lines For Sales

Crafting email subject lines for sales has become an art. To make your email stand apart from the hundreds in your prospect’s inbox, you need to capture his or her attention immediately. Easier said than done, right?

We’ve compiled a list of tried and true email subject lines that are favorites of industry professionals. Tweak the content, press send, and watch your open rates increase.

Cold Email Subject Lines

When a prospect hasn’t heard from you yet, it’s hard to get them to take the bait. Here are some examples of email subject lines that will help you score that initial click.

“Erica Banks told me to drop you a line.”

If you have a connection with your prospect, mention him or her by name. Your prospect is more likely to open the email with this trust-building information. Be sure to tell your connection before reaching out in case your prospect asks for verification.

“Have you been to the Gotham Bar & Grille on 12th St?”

This casual question is a great way to start a rapport with a prospect. Whether or not you’ve been to the restaurant or venue (preferably in their city of residence), it’s a fun way to begin a  conversation. Once you’ve started talking, ask if a meeting at the said location would be possible.

“So, I hear you are a master in data analysis”

Like the restaurant tactic, this method is likely to catch your prospect’s eye. Why did you ask about their specialty? Is there an opportunity related to it? This email subject line shows you did your research, but ensure you have a legitimate reason for mentioning personal information.

“Josh, did you meet your advertising goals last quarter?”

This email subject line is successful for two reasons. It mentions the recipient’s name, possibly increasing the open rate by up to 22.2%. Then, it asks a pertinent question about his job. Tweak the question for your industry; a health tech salesperson might write “Hi [name], are you frustrated with your supply chain?”

Follow-up Email Subject Lines

Whether you’re sending another email after receiving no response or checking in after an initial call. Here are a few ways to make that second contact as smooth as the first.

“Here’s that case study I mentioned”

If you referred to some kind of information, like a case study, article, or blog post in your first email or call with the prospect, that’s a great reason to follow up. You’re reminding the prospect about your initial conversation and providing value at the same time.

“Jane, I thought you might like this new Forbes article”

This is an information-packed follow-up message, especially useful if you didn’t make contact the first time around. You’re mentioning the prospect’s name and letting them know that you want to provide value.

“Can I help you meet your Q2 goals?”

Every professional has quarterly and yearly goals—and feels a lot of pressure to meet them. Offering help with this critical project can quickly catch a prospect’s eye.

“Would you like to spend one less hour a day on email?”

This is another email subject line that can be adjusted for your industry. Boil down your product, determine real-world value it can provide for your prospect, and feature it in the subject line.

Last-Chance Email Subject Lines

Maybe your prospect hasn’t answered any of your emails or has just gone radio silent—try to revive that relationship with these email subject lines.  

“3 steps and we can get started”

People love numbered emails (and articles and lists), so a number is a great way to start an email. This subject line implies that you two have a rapport, so even if you haven’t actually spoken to your prospect, they may be intrigued enough to see what’s going on.

“15 minutes on Thursday?”

It’s hard for anyone to ignore an email about a meeting. Your prospect might think you’re waiting on their answer to complete your schedule or may be interested in hearing your rapid-speed pitch.

“Ready to part ways?

Sometimes honesty is the best policy. If you haven’t received a single message in return from a contact and need to know if you should stop wasting effort on them, this message might be your best option. If they respond with a negative or simply don’t respond, you’ll know their answer.

I need to apologize for something”

If you are willing to do whatever it takes to get a certain prospect to click, think outside the box. Other clickable options include “HBO Go Password?” (a favorite of HubSpot) or a classic: “Like cute cat videos?” You’ll get more clicks, but it’s up to you to craft creative content in the email body that lives up to the subject line.


Interested in more business tips like these email subject lines for sales? Check out our blog.

3 Tools to Help You Create a Strong B2B Value Proposition

3 Tools to Help You Create a Strong B2B Value Proposition

If you had to entice a customer to buy your product using one sentence or less, what would you say? This is the question you should ask yourself when developing a value proposition. It can be difficult to narrow down your product’s value to 20-30 words. Luckily, there are numerous tools available that will take you through a step-by-step process of developing a value proposition. These tools can help you prioritize important information, organize your thoughts, and even bring you to a new perspective or idea that will enhance the way you communicate your product or service’s value to customers.

Here are a few tools to help you develop a strong B2B value proposition:

1. The B2B Elements of Value Pyramid

Bain & Company created a model that organizes valuable elements that B2B organizations can offer customers. The model’s roots can be traced back to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from 1943, which argues humans are motivated by both basic and complex needs. However, this model focuses on people’s motivation for buying products or services. The elements at the bottom are easy to measure, such as acceptable price, while the elements at the top are more objective and difficult to quantify, such as reputational assurance.

According to leaders at Bain & Company, if companies use “modern survey techniques and statistical analysis to quantify all the elements on a consistent basis, they can learn what customers truly value and which aspects of an offering merit investment.” By surveying customers and asking them to rate the elements they value most, you can modify and improve your value proposition.

Elements of Value Pyramid

Source: Harvard Business Review

2. Strategyzer Value Proposition Canvas

Strategyzer, known for their business model platform, offers a canvas tool for companies to create value propositions. It’s composed of two sections, a customer profile and value map. The customer profile describes the jobs your customers try to get done (these can be functional, social, or emotional). In addition, this section highlights the pains customers experience when trying to get the job done and the gains they hope to achieve.

The value map lists the products and services your value proposition builds on. In this section, you should ask yourself, how does your product minimize or reduce pain points? How does it maximize outcomes/benefits? The best value propositions come from connecting your customer profile and value map. The customer profile may contain countless jobs, pains, and gains but the value map helps you highlight which ones to focus on.

Value Proposition Canvas

Source: Strategyzer

3. Value Proposition Builder™ by Futurecurve

This trademarked tool is a product of Futurecurve’s research into human behavior. The six elements are part of an iterative process that leads to a customer-centric value proposition. The process is centered around identifying your target market and how your product or service provides value for that audience. However, this value is strengthened by determining which benefits are most important, how they offer differentiation, and proof to support your claims.

Futurecurve outlines a number of positive outcomes of undergoing this process to create a value proposition. To name a few, companies gain a clear profile of buyer personas, an understanding of what offerings to take to market, and evidence on how they deliver value. For more insights on creating a value proposition, you can check out Futurecurve’s book “Selling Your Value Proposition: how to transform your business into a selling organization.”

Value Proposition Builder

Source: Futurecurve

With these tools, you can ensure that you’re creating a strong value proposition that speaks to your customers and their needs. For examples of B2B value propositions, check out our blog The Top 10 B2B Value Proposition Examples (And How to Create Your Own).

Looking for a team to help with your company’s B2B marketing messaging? Contact us.

Marketing Agency vs. Marketing Consultancy

Marketing Agency vs. Marketing Consultancy

If you’re up to date on what’s happening in the marketing industry, you know that consultancies have increasingly become a threat to traditional agencies. With the popularity surrounding digital technology, there has been a shift away from the creative approach of selling “big ideas” and a move towards data-driven marketing. To dig a little deeper into this, let’s take a look at the differences between an agency and a consultancy.


A marketing agency has the ability of handle all aspects of the advertising process. This includes strategic planning, creative, and production. Some agencies are full-service, meaning they offer a complete approach to marketing and advertising initiatives. Other agencies may specialize in a particular creative service, such as graphic design, video, or social media.

On the other hand, a marketing consultancy has expertise in strategies to engage customers and improve business opportunities, both through retaining existing clients and attracting new customers. Their focus is to help companies achieve defined and measurable goals. A consultancy typically helps businesses develop inbound strategies, implement marketing tools, drive traffic, generate and nurture leads, produce content, and improve SEO.


A marketing agency is going to be more focused on executing creative. They are expected to know the best way to shoot a video or create a beautifully-designed website. When it comes to working with an agency, clients typically already have a marketing strategy in mind. For example, they may want to launch a new product or rebrand. Either way, there’s a clear objective and it’s the agency’s job to find the best way to execute it creatively.

Because of the conceptualization involved in designing creative assets, the turnaround time for an agency is longer than a consultancy. However, the main thing that separates an agency from a consultancy is their role in the marketing process. A consultancy will develop a plan to help your company grow, while an agency expects you to already have that figured out. They are the ones who provide the creative assets to support the project plan.

If you’re using a consultancy, it’s typically because you have a problem that you’re not sure how to solve. This could be anything from “why am I not getting traffic to my website?” to “how do I start generating more leads?” It’s a consultant’s job to identify a business-oriented solution to problems like these.

The consulting process begins with researching a client’s company and familiarizing oneself with their services, buyers, and competitors. Consultants immerse themselves in their client’s industry so they can better understand their goals and pain points. They take a data-centered approach to marketing, relying on analytics to inform their strategies. You can expect a fast turnaround from a consultancy as they are skilled in driving performance and producing quick, measurable results.

Which is right for you?

Now, you may be sitting there asking yourself, which option is right for me? It depends on your company’s needs. If you’re looking for quick results that drive revenue and growth, you should go the consultancy route. But if you’re looking for support in executing creative initiatives, an agency is the right pick. Looking for a little of both? There’s a third option- a hybrid agency/consultancy.

SmarkLabs is a prime example of this. We are a full-service marketing operation that create and execute marketing plans. We have a team of marketers who are skilled in growth strategy and a team of creatives who are experienced in graphic design and videography. Because of this, we’re able to handle every aspect of the marketing process and create consistent campaigns that produce reliable results.

To learn more about our services, drop us a line.

Looking ahead

The line between agency and consultancy is becoming more and more blurred. Consultancies are beginning to offer branding and advertising services while agencies are moving into digital technology. In terms of the future of marketing, many have argued that consultancies will dominate because the way people interact with brands is changing. It’s no longer about releasing big, flashy ad campaigns, but finding small and truthful ways to engage with customers and create personalized experiences.