Bob Bly Direct Response Copywriter Official Banner

What Works Best in B2B: Direct Mail or E-Mail?

May 28th, 2008 by Bob Bly

What works best in b-to-b lead generation — direct mail or e-mail marketing?

If you’re like most people, you said “e-mail.”

But Russell Kern, CEO of his own direct marketing agency, disagrees.

In an article published in BtoB’s 2008 Lead Generation Guide, Kern cites the following results from his campaign data:

>> Prospects responding to direct mail are 10% to 20% more likely to convert to a marketing-qualified lead than their online counterparts.

>> Qualified leads generated via direct mail cost 5% to 15% less than online.

>> Field sales reps are 7% to 15% more likely to work with a DM-generated lead than an online lead.

So are all the B2B marketers who tell me “direct mail doesn’t work” bonkers?

Or is Kern making this stuff up?


This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 28th, 2008 at 2:36 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

54 responses about “What Works Best in B2B: Direct Mail or E-Mail?”

  1. Dianna Huff said:

    Bob, The people who tell you B2B direct mail doesn’t work aren’t doing it properly.

  2. Bob Bly said:

    Yes, but instead of reaching that conclusion, they instead conclude that because THEIR direct mail promotion didn’t work, that ALL direct mail doesn’t work — an incredibly stupid and wholly illogical deduction.

  3. Jim Logan said:

    Easy conclusion from my experience – direct mail beats email. I’ve had some success with email, but direct mail is always the big winner between the two.

    I’ve found a professional direct mail piece is well received and earns a greater response than email – especially when dealing with business leaders and executives.

  4. Simon Smith said:

    Bob, doesn’t it depend highly on the demographics, the product and the purchase mechanism? I can see how this would be true when targeting older corporate executives with an offer for information technology purchased though a sales representative. But I doubt it would be true when targeting younger, web-savvy information technology workers with an offer for an e-book purchased through PayPal.

  5. Bob Bly said:

    SS: Of course it varies with the audience. Kern’s study is based on response data from a cross-section of marketing campaigns for the 25 or so clients his agency handles. I think the important point, however, is that it proves the claim “direct mail doesn’t work anymore” is patently wrong.

  6. Craig Hysell said:

    Fascinating. Did the article include the “why’s” as well? Just curious.

    And, as far as it concerns my business, I pay much more attention to the businesses I have given PERMISSION to contact me than I do the outside solicitations in both mediums. (Did that aspect play any role in Kern’s study?)

    If those guys are on top of the game they always get more business from me. By the way, thanks for email today Bob concerning those free interviews. I’m down.

  7. Mordechai (Morty) Schiller said:


    When I started doing work for CYBRA, they told me they were getting no response from print ads and direct mail. What seems to be working best for them is optimized press releases posted on the Web. Hopefully, our new viral video series (see will also get some action.

    Of course, we’re talking about high-ticket enterprise software to a niche market of IBM System i users. So it’s a complex sale, not something calling for a coupon and a check.


  8. Dianna Huff said:

    But Morty, I would never use DM to actually sell enterprise software. I would use it in a couple of different ways to *generate leads.*

    Bob, do you have experience writing B2B sales letters that solicit sales for low cost items?

    All the B2B letters I’ve written have always been lead gen letters.

  9. andy vanakin said:

    I am in the lead management industry we have huge success with BtoB marketing.

  10. Bob Bly said:

    Andy: What type of communication gets you the best result in BtoB marketing.

    Morty: DM and e-mail both works GREAT for enterprise software lead generation. Use them to drive traffic to one of your videos.

    DH: I have had great success with B2B DM. For items under $500, it can sell the product directly via mail order. For big ticket items, we generate leads by offering free information: a mix of sales literature and free content.

  11. Brian said:

    I’ve been reading your blog schmog book lately and thought I’d drop by to see you here.
    I’ve noticed that yours’s is quite an anthropological approach which makes complete common sense.Who knows where the Blog is to go when enough people imagine it?

    I suspect you’ll be following its trajectory.

    Quiet admiration.

  12. Jehan Gonsalkorale said:

    I’ve started a direct mail campaign and think it’s just a great way to prepare a follow up call. For B2B you need to get a sense of context in your prospect and a letter lets them feel that they can trust you more. I wouldn’t use it for much more than that but it’s been a great help at that level.

  13. Direct Mail: It’s Alive! It’s Alive! said:

    […] direct marketing guru Bob Bly cites a BtoB Lead Generation Guide article that shows: •    Direct mail responders are 10 – 20% more likely to convert to a […]

  14. The Direct Marketing Voice » Email for Lead Generation? Not So Much. said:

    […] source: […]

  15. internet marketing said:

    internet marketing…

    […]What Works Best in B2B: Direct Mail or E-Mail? – blog – direct marketing blog[…]…

  16. crm, insurance leads, live tranfer said:

    crm, insurance leads, live tranfer…

    […]What Works Best in B2B: Direct Mail or E-Mail? – blog – direct marketing blog[…]…

  17. Get Started said:

    Whats up are using WordPress for your site platform?
    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set up my own.

    Do you need any html coding expertise to make your own blog?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  18. chainsaw trousers said:

    The chainsaw should also have a chain brake that will quickly stop the chain from moving even
    when operating at full speed. The latest incarnation follows
    a young girl as she and her friends are terrorized by a
    chainsaw-wielding killer, after she inherits a Victorian mansion in Texas.

    Petrol chainsaws are heavier, and more powerful than
    their electric cousins.

  19. Quranic power said:

    Nowadays, the trend of getting into a relationship becomes familiar, and you may see most of our young generation is in contact. Having a boyfriend is common for today’s girls; it eventually becomes part of their show-off.

    Spell To Make My Boyfriend Love Me Again

  20. Mohnish Jain said:

    Today, engagement generates leads. Now it is up to you how you figure out a way to engage your target audience, captivate them, and encourage connection that finally leads to sales.B2B Lead GenerationThe Definitive Guide to B2B Lead Generation

  21. Hotmail Login said:

    Hotmail Login

  22. navyarmyccu said:

    For B2B you need to get a sense of context in your prospect and a letter lets them feel that they can trust you more. I wouldn’t use it for much more than that but it’s been a great help at that level.

  23. Corwin said:

    We all immediately recognize the flat snoot, wrinkled face, and large expressive eyes of the loveable Pug. The Pug breed’s roots can be tracked back to Imperial China in 700 B.C., during the time of Confucius, when the breed was known as lo-sze. Imported to England in the 16th century, assassination attempt by Spain. Over time, pugs have been the favored breed or both royals and celebrities—from Napoleon and Queen Victoria to Andy Warhol and Rob Zombie.

  24. shortstoproot said:

    as far as it concerns my business, I pay much more attention to the businesses I have given PERMISSION to contact me than I do dordle the outside solicitations in both mediums. (Did that aspect play any role in Kern’s study?)

  25. Adilkhatri said:

    I think I have never observed such web journals ever that has finish things with all points of interest which I need. So sympathetically refresh this ever for us. matka tips today

  26. Adilkhatri said:

    I simply want to tell you that I am new to weblog and definitely liked this blog site. Very likely I’m going to bookmark your blog . You absolutely have wonderful stories. Cheers for sharing with us your blog. matka tips

  27. Adilkhatri said:

    It’s extremely educational and you are clearly exceptionally proficient around there. You have opened my eyes to differing sees on this point with fascinating and strong substance. kalyan satta

  28. Adilkhatri said:

    I am really getting a charge out of examining your exquisitely formed articles. No doubt you spend an extensive measure of effort and time on your blog. I have bookmarked it and I am expecting scrutinizing new articles. Continue doing wonderful. dpboss kalyan

  29. sara jane said:

    Obviously, your article is adequate, but I thought it would be much more effective to include professional photos and videos. Please visit and share your thoughts on usps tracking, which features articles and images on these topics.

  30. poppy mizzi said:

    Your essay was enjoyable to read, and I look forward to reading more from you in the future. If you have some free time, please join me in playing a fantastic game I found called poppy playtime .

  31. sara jane said:

    This is, in my opinion, one of the best posts that you have made. Your work is quite outstanding in both quality and quantity. I am grateful to you for it globle

  32. trackingi said:

    Czy kto? otrzyma? paczk?, która utkn??a w Avenel w stanie New Jersey przez oko?o 8 dni. Czy kiedykolwiek dostarcz? moj? paczk? do mojego miejsca docelowego? Prosz?, potrzebuj? troch? pomocy, aby to zrozumie?. Dzi?kuj? za pomoc ka?demu, kto mo?e mi wyja?ni? t? sytuacj?.Canada Post Tracking Doceni?

  33. Adoro said:

    Step up your style with adoro’s collection of casual shoes for men in Pakistan. Our collection of modern and stylish designs are perfect for any occasion and provides superior comfort. Whether you’re looking to dress up an outfit or just add a touch of flair to your everyday look, adoro has the perfect shoe for you! With unbeatable quality. Shop now.

  34. william liz said:

    I find that email really works. I will try more Five Nights at Freddy’s 4

  35. Eddie Lydon said:

    Incredible blog here! It’s mind boggling posting with the checked and genuinely accommodating data. cattleman jacket

  36. Lorena Duran said:

    Nice post. Thank you to provide us this useful information.

  37. Lorena Duran said:

    Nice post. Thank you to provide us this useful information. Pagan Mc Vest

  38. iHost VPS said:

    Hosting a VPS server refers to the provision of virtual server hosting services. It involves providing the necessary infrastructure, resources, and management tools to run a VPS server. Hosting providers ensure the availability, performance, and security of the VPS server, allowing users to focus on their websites or applications without worrying about server maintenance.

  39. BabyBoxShop said:

    A baby boy gift hamper is a wonderful way to celebrate the birth of a baby boy. These hampers are filled with a selection of baby essentials and cute items tailored to boys, ensuring that the little one is both comfortable and stylish.

  40. BSNS Consulting said:

    Unlock the full potential of your online presence with BSNS Consulting’s services of Digital Marketing Pakistan. Our result-driven approach utilises the latest digital marketing strategies to elevate your brand’s visibility, engage your target audience, and drive meaningful conversions. Stay ahead of the competition and achieve your business goals with our expert digital marketing solutions.

  41. iHost VPS said:

    At CAVPS, we prioritize the security and convenience of our clients. Our CaVPS client login portal allows you to easily access your VPS hosting account, manage your services, and monitor your resources. Experience a user-friendly interface and robust security measures to safeguard your data and ensure a seamless hosting experience.

  42. tracking usps said:

    Bravo! This article combines meticulous research with a narrative flair that makes it stand out.
    We are providing Live USPS Tracking

  43. White LED Display said:

    White 5651AW LED 5651BW 5-digit 5561AW

  44. 7-segment led said:

    7-Segment 5561BW Display 5651AW LED 5651BW

  45. 5-digit led said:

    5-digit 5561AW 7-Segment 5561BW Display

  46. Tiptop-einrichtung said:

    A friseureinrichtung outlet is a store that offers discounted furniture and equipment for hair salons. Here, hairstylists can acquire high-quality furnishings at more affordable rates.Discover fantastic deals and discounts on hair salon furnishings at our Hair Salon Furnishings Outlet. Whether you’re a salon owner looking to revamp your space or a hairstylist in need of high-quality equipment, our outlet is your one-stop destination for affordable and stylish salon furnishings.

  47. We Buy Dead Stocks.. said:

    Looking for a reliable Scrap buyer in UAE? Look no further! At We Buy Dead Stocks, we are your go-to destination for efficient and hassle-free scrap purchasing services. With our extensive expertise and commitment to customer satisfaction, we ensure a seamless experience when it comes to selling your scrap materials.

  48. The Salesbridge said:

    Elevate your business to new heights with Salesbridge, the epitome of lead generation excellence. Seamlessly blending innovation and strategic prowess, Salesbridge crafts personalized campaigns with surgical precision. This isn’t just about generating leads; it’s a transformative journey towards skyrocketing sales. With a commitment to data-driven insights, multi-channel mastery, and conversion-centric strategies, Salesbridge ensures every lead isn’t just a contact but a potential conversion. Transparency, scalability, and industry expertise converge to make Salesbridge not just a lead generation company but a trusted partner in amplifying your sales success. Choose Salesbridge and redefine your path to prosperity.

  49. John said:

    B2B business also runs very well.

  50. Ginkgo Retail said:

    Ginkgo Retail is an innovative domain poised at the intersection of streamlined ecommerce and efficient order management solutions. It serves as a dynamic platform catering to businesses seeking comprehensive, user-friendly systems for their operations. With a focus on seamless integration and accessibility, GinkgoRetail offers an advanced Ecommerce Order Management System, empowering businesses to navigate, track, and optimize their processes effortlessly. Its robust features include Ecommerce Order Management System PDF
    functionalities, ensuring clear and concise documentation throughout the entire order lifecycle. GinkgoRetail stands as a pioneering domain, redefining the standards of intuitive, tech-driven commerce solutions.

  51. bokep barat said:

    The explanation of this information is very valuable and very interesting for me. and this will be one of the best pieces of information that I will save right now.

  52. BSNS Consulting said:

    BSNS Consulting stands out among the top digital marketing companies in Islamabad with its innovative strategies and client-focused approach. Our expert team excels in crafting tailored solutions to elevate brands’ online presence and drive tangible results. Partner with us to experience the pinnacle of digital marketing excellence in Pakistan’s capital.

  53. David said:

    I thin B2C is best.

  54. Ginkgo Retail said:

    Headless commerce order management refers to the backend process of handling and processing customer orders in a headless e-commerce architecture. By decoupling the front-end presentation layer from the order management system, businesses gain flexibility and agility in managing orders across various channels and devices. This approach allows for seamless integration with multiple sales channels while ensuring efficient order processing and fulfillment in the digital retail landscape.

Leave a Reply