As a B2B marketer, you've experienced how the circumstances of 2020 increased the complexities of your direct marketing strategy and, in turn, its effectiveness.

Connecting with your professional audience at their homes rather than in their offices has encouraged marketers to re-examine their strategy and available tactics.

By using a data-first approach to customer retention and the development of an engaging multichannel experiences, you can optimize your B2B direct marketing program to increase conversions and customer retention in today's market.

1. Activate your first-party data

Most marketers would agree that Data is the world's most valuable resource. But the impending demise of third-party cookies and increasing desire for a more personalized buying experience has caused many marketers to take a closer look at the customer insights and behavior metrics available within their own, first-party data sources.

A robust customer relationships management (CRM) program will not only give you a competitive advantage but also allow you to develop more targeted and personalized strategies that will resonate with your audience and protect your investment.

Start the process by conducting a comprehensive data audit to identify what variables are most relevant to your business and selling strategy—and what might be missing. Then, prioritize completing those fields throughout your contact records.

The COVID-19 era of remote work has prompted prospects to open the door and receive B2B direct marketing communications at their home offices. As you work to build complete profiles, include personal contact information, such as home address and personal email address.

Data append and identity graph technologies allow you to combine all your online and offline data sources (such as social media accounts, e-commerce platforms, apps, and direct mail history) to find buyers across multiple devices and locations.

2. Treat retention as the new acquisition

Even when budgets are tight, you are still expected to meet your revenue target. Shifting your strategy from customer acquisition to customer retention can provide higher returns for your marketing spend.

That said, maintaining loyalty throughout the unique circumstances of 2020 proved more difficult than in the past. A whopping 80% of B2B buyers have swapped vendors in the past year, Accenture research found—and the more frequently buyers make purchases, the more likely they are to switch vendors. The same study reported that 21% of buyers claimed to be dissatisfied with a lack of personalized pricing and offers.

So how do you keep your best and most frequent customers happy?

Personalization turns generic marketing into a meaningful connection and plays a pivotal role in creating satisfying relationships. More than half of people say they feel connected to a brand when they feel that brand understands them and their desires.

Segment your CRM data to ensure your messaging is personalized and relevant to each of your customer groups by addressing their unique needs and pain points, then nurture them to another conversion on a relevant channel.

As for direct mail, 6 out of 10 consumers say they feel it is more personal and trustworthy than other marketing channels, according to USPS research. Moreover, more than 40% of marketers rely on mail's subconscious influence to drive customer loyalty and repeat purchases.

Progressive technology and data advancements have continued to optimize the versatility and effectiveness of print media in a digital world. Variable printing data (VPD) allows you to apply your freshened-up CRM data to craft persona-based mailers by swapping elements of your direct mail piece (such as text, colors, or images) from one piece to the next without interrupting the printing process. That makes every piece relevant to each individual buyer on your mailing list, naturally increasing its impact.

Exclusive offers, personalized invitations, and feedback requests can be triggered by a variety of events such as stage in the buyer journey, website activity, or dormant periods to reactive purchase interest and engagement.

3. Create a multichannel experience

B2B buyers are also consumers, so it is realistic to assume their professional buying preferences can mirror that of their personal buying preferences.

One-third of those surveyed in a CMO Council study said they expect direct mail to be part of their ideal communications mix. More than 80% of marketers agree that including mail in their multichannel mix has a positive impact on response rates and ROI, according to industry research.

Including mail packages in your B2B direct marketing strategy, especially at a time when 33% of workers are at home, will enhance overall customer experience and support diversified online and offline buyer preferences.

Content bingeing has become a social norm, so it is no surprise that a B2B buyer binges 13 pieces of content, on average, before making a purchase, as shown in recent studies. Determine how you can incorporate the natural storytelling benefit of direct mail into your selling process to lengthen prospect interactions.

To encourage your prospects to dive into your piece, use a variety of educational elements, such as product specs and comparisons, reviews, and success stories. Incorporate interactive digital elements (QR codes or PURLs) within the package to link prospects to online video content, let them request product samples, or start the RFP process.

Use online intent signals to trigger retargeted mailings and provide a seamless customer journey as researching buyers engage with your organization between channels and platforms, naturally moving them closer to your desired action.

* * *

The 2020 effect will continue to influence your B2B direct marketing strategy in 2021, and likely for years to come. Maximize and activate your first-party data to provide a holistic view of your audience and your competitive edge, then use those insights to build a relevant and personalized retention program and appeal to buyer preferences with an intentional multichannel approach that makes it easy to do business with you, both online and offline.

And, most important, stay agile by closely watching campaign performance and testing across multiple channels to improve results.

More Resources on B2B Direct Marketing

A Direct Effect: Direct Mail + Digital = Better Marketing Results [Infographic]

Back to Basics in Direct Marketing

How Direct Mail Can Cut Through the Pandemic Marketing Clutter (And How to Obtain Those Valuable Home Addresses)

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Three Ways to Optimize Your B2B Direct Marketing Program in 2021

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image of Erik Koenig

Erik Koenig is the chief marketing strategist at SeQuel Response, a direct mail and digital direct marketing company. He has 10+ years of direct marketing experience.

LinkedIn: Erik Koenig