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Direct Mail
December 27, 2022

Is Direct Mail Inbound or Outbound Marketing?

Stephanie Donelson

Does your marketing team operate on an inbound marketing strategy or an outbound marketing strategy?

Perhaps you operate with tactics from both methods.

Inbound and outbound marketing methods both work at generating leads, but they go about it differently.

The difference between inbound and outbound marketing

The biggest difference is essentially how you're introducing your brand to people.

  • Inbound marketing: Creating targeted content that draws people to your brand and its website
  • Outbound marketing: Proactively reaching out to people at scale to get them interested in your product or service

Tactics for inbound marketing methods typically include:

  • Blog posts
  • Webinars
  • Reports or guides
  • Social media posts

Tactics for outbound marketing methods typically include:

  • Magazine or newspaper ads
  • TV, radio, or streaming service ads
  • Cold calling
  • Events or trade shows

Of course, both have their benefits and challenges that marketers need to account for.

Inbound marketing content tends to be educational and act as a self-serve journey down the funnel, and is easier to measure. On the other hand, inbound marketing can be costly, requires maintenance, and its content is distributed across different channels.

Outbound marketing is ideal for brand awareness, can drive immediate results or sales, and consumers are used to this form of marketing. Some challenges of outbound include the fact that its messaging tends to not be as targeted or relevant compared to inbound marketing messages, it's easy for consumers to tune out, and measuring its impact can be harder - though it is getting easier these days with things like QR codes that have UTMs in them.

By looking at the list of tactics under outbound, it would seem natural that direct mail is a marketing tactic for that method.

It is, but it can also be a tactic for inbound marketing as well! Let's see how innovative marketers can leverage direct mail for both methods.

Using direct mail as an inbound marketing tool

Direct mail is highly effective when used as an inbound marketing tool. Now, that does come with the caveat that you will need the lead's address data or have a way to get it, but direct mail does fit the inbound marketing model.

Say, a lead has entered an email nurture stream as part of your inbound strategy. You can easily supplement the emails with direct mail to bridge the gap between online and offline channels. These pieces of direct mail can reiterate messaging from the email nurture series, give them access to an exclusive eBook or report, or tell them where they can listen to your brand's podcast and highlights episodes relevant to what they've looked at on your website.

An interesting way to use direct mail as an inbound method would be to not just have it supplement email, but essentially replace it. Perhaps a lead visited your website to read a blog post and at the end of the post, instead of having them sign up for emails from your brand, they can sign up for a series of direct mailpieces that continue to educate them. The direct mail could still integrate with your digital channels. For example, you send a series of postcards that feature links or QR codes that take leads to a video playlist they can watch on their phone.

Another great technique for using direct mail to improve your inbound marketing strategy is to create an event and send invitations to potentially interested parties. This event can be in-person or even online, like a webinar. The key here is that the piece of direct mail fits with their specific customer journey and helps move them down the funnel. Direct mail for inbound marketing is a fun way to break up the interactions between the lead and your brand in the digital realm and provide something tangible.

Using direct mail for outbound marketing

Like we said, it's easy to see how direct mail fits as a channel for outbound marketing as you can reach a wide audience with one mail campaign. A great example is Bed, Bath, and Beyond who sends out those 20% off mailers to draw people into its store. The messaging doesn't have to be targeted, it can be generalized and applicable to a wider audience.

Direct mail is also a natural fit for outbound marketing as you can purchase lists containing the contact information of people in specific areas. Custom pieces of direct mail are then generated with a personalized offer to create genuine interest. The customer is encouraged to reach out or visit a website for more details, giving your marketing team a quick return on investment.

Lob: Your solution to adding direct mail to both your inbound and outbound marketing efforts

If you're interested in improving your inbound and outbound marketing efforts, using direct mail is a highly effective and economical way to accomplish your goals. Teaming up with a top-performing direct mail company like Lob allows you to increase ROI, improve personalization, and scale your efforts.

If you're interested in learning more, reach out to the experts at Lob and we'll help pinpoint exactly where direct mail fits in your marketing strategy and help you automate direct mail to maximize ROI of this channel.

Direct mail for omnichannel marketing

Did you know that customers gained through omnichannel marketing purchase 2.5x more frequently, spend 13% more, and provide a 30% higher lifetime value? Learn how an omnichannel marketing approach can benefit your organization by downloading your copy of The Modern Marketer's Guide to Omnichannel Marketing.

Ebook cover of The Modern Marketer's Guide to Omnichannel Marketing