Email lead generation — perception vs. reality.

It’s my pleasure to introduce David Ariss, President of Ariss Marketing Group, a small, “boutique” direct marketing firm in Denver, Colorado who has agreed to share his insight with you today. Susan Fantle, B2BMarketingSmarts


As this recession lingers on, more and more of our B2B and B2C clients are asking about using email in lieu of direct mail campaigns to generate leads and sales. The cost of email marketing is less and the results are learned quickly, so the perception is that email has great advantages over direct mail.

When this request is made, no matter the size of their company or their market, this is the story I tell:

EmailA large national B2B publishing company on the East Coast hired us to develop a lead generation direct marketing campaign to generate qualified leads for its sales force.

Primarily using their in-house list, augmented with highly targeted outside IT industry lists, we mailed 100,000 surveys directing the recipient to a pURL (personalized URL). For completing the survey they received either an gift certificate or White Paper (a simple A/B split). The target recipient had the option to either complete the mailed survey or logon to their pURL and complete it online.

We also emailed 30,000 surveys with the exact same messages and split. No recipient received both the direct mail and the email.

The result: The postal mail pulled 3.1% (3,100 leads); the email pulled less than .25% (75 leads). As predicted, the responses requesting the white paper were better qualified leads, but the Amazon Gift Certificate offer generated more leads.

An interesting side note: of the 3,100 responses from the postal mail, 800 sent in the paper survey in the supplied reply envelope rather than filled out the survey online, even though they still had to give us their email address to receive their free gift. We assumed, because the audience was very IT oriented, that all of the responses would come in via online. Giving them multiple ways to respond significantly lifted response.

Because of the lower campaign costs, many say email campaigns are more cost-effective, but we have not been able to prove it yet, as the final determination in the effectiveness of the campaign is cost-per-sale. So, I recommend to my clients to test email lists if we are able to find appropriate selects for them, but test in small quantities.

Email is cheaper and faster. But direct mail has advantages that make a difference on the bottom line:

  • Recipients can open the mail at their convenience and spend time with it. Emails, however, are part of a long list of other emails that are critical to that day’s tasks and that day’s business. So marketing emails get less attention.
  • Direct mail allows marketers to tell the whole story. It provides room to satisfy even the most cogent arguments and includes all the graphics that help tell the story.
  • Multiple pieces can make a huge difference as well. With email, prospects are looking at a monitor, but with direct mail they can see, feel, touch, and sometimes even smell the letter, brochure, lift note, or post card. There is just plain more emotion and interaction with direct mail.

I’m not against using email, but I recommend that my client tests them both to let the market tell them which will work best their company. That said, try combining direct mail with email in a campaign — done properly, this can greatly increase your response rates.

About the Author: David Ariss provides direct marketing services for B-to-B, B-to-C, nonprofit and political candidates through his company, Ariss Marketing Group based in Denver, Colorado.

5 replies
  1. Les Proctor
    Les Proctor says:

    Direct Mail for B2B Lead Generation often outpulls everything else… and ultimately it’s the cost per customer acquisition that is the most important metric. You can have an expensive package but if it outperforms everything else in terms of new customers, then obviously that’s the way to go. Our results corroborate yours as well… that personal premiums like gift cards outpull business premiums like white papers.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] hold on a minute, cautions David Ariss in a guest post for B2BMarketingSmarts.  David’s firm (Ariss Marketing Group) recently ran a campaign for a large B2B publisher, sending […]

  2. […] we should reconsider our actions based on split-testing reported at B2BMarketingSmarts: Email lead generation — perception vs. reality. “Primarily using their in-house list… we mailed 100,000 surveys directing the […]

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