17 Examples of B2B Direct Marketing Campaigns that Drove ROI

Jaycen Thorgeirson
Founder & Chief Storyteller
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There are an incredible number of options for B2B direct marketing, and the combinations and customizations you could make to your campaign are nearly endless. 

If you’re not sure where to begin, start by looking at what’s worked before. 

Last week we showed you how to build an effective direct marketing campaign to connect with your perfect prospects.

This week we have examples of B2B direct marketing campaigns to inspire your future campaigns. Check them out and note any that spark your interest, so you and your team can use those ideas to brainstorm your own campaign.

A healthier relationship with your software provider.

Workfront, a management software company, recently had an opportunity open up in their industry. One of their competitors bowed out of the industry, and Workfront was excited to pick up the slack. The only question was, how would they attract their competitor’s former customers?

After extensive research, they figured out the biggest complaint those prospects had with their former management software, and they packaged it up in the theme of a breakup. 

They asked, “Has your relationship with your provider run its course?” and offered prospects a chance to “Fall in love again.” They also sent bouquets and Valentine’s cards to the highest-qualified prospects.

Adorable, but did it work? It generated over $370,000 in their sales pipeline, which was a considerable ROI, even including the fancy bouquets. 

Read more about the bouquet campaign here.

Image via b2bmarketing

Meet Digital Dave.

I have to admit, this one made us geek out. O2 is a B2B telecom service provider in the UK. It has a lot of brand recognition there, but its sales team was having an incredibly difficult time getting anyone to answer the phone. 

Those who did answer the phone, however, revealed that they were frustrated with their current provider. Customers complained that there was poor customer service and no clear representative to go to with questions.

This sparked a clever idea in O2’s marketing department. They answered this need by selecting their top 50 prospective accounts and promising them a Digital Advisor, so they would always have a clear point of contact. But to introduce this idea…

They created Digital Dave. In 50 personalized scripts, a holographic sales rep explained just what O2 would provide if the prospect switched to their services. Ten of the accounts responded within the first week, and the campaign has already earned an ROI of 13:1, with increases likely to come as the competition’s contracts run out. 

Read O2’s case study here.

Image via Joss Dickenson

Something missing earned 12400% ROI

Topline, a B2B video production company, conducted a direct mail marketing campaign where they sent their 50 top prospect accounts a mini-toolbox. Not only were these an eye-catching, unique gift, they added an extra touch: they removed one of the tools.

The pliers were obviously missing from the toolkit. Topline asked, “Something missing from your marketing toolkit? We have it!” 

The campaign cost only £400, but generated over £50,000 in revenue. A little creativity goes a long way in direct mail marketing!

Read more about Topline Film’s campaigns here.

Image via Topline

Connect with decision makers and users at the same time.

Qualtrix is a digital customer experience software. The decision to partner with them is made by C-suite execs, but those aren’t the ultimate end users. Because of this, Qualtrix also wanted to reach the influencers in marketing operations and IT & Security, who are most concerned with marketing data.

They sent a door opening package to C-suite execs, encouraging them to download a 10-step Guide to Healthy Data Management guide while also offering them a box of high-quality coffee to "give their data a jolt." 

Simultaneously, they sent influencers in Marketing and IT a postcard with a single-serving packet of coffee offering an analysis of their customer database. The consistent messaging helped them make a memorable impression on all decision-makers. Now, that's what orchestrating success should look like!

Learn how to improve your marketing with one key message.

Image via PFL

“Made you look.”

Intridea, a web products, and services company, wanted to get the attention of the ad agency Ogilvy & Mather. Their ultimate goal was a meeting, but they knew they had to go big.

Intridea bought a billboard across from Ogilvy's Manhattan office. The billboard read simply, "Ogle this, Ogilvy," with a URL that led to a unique, personalized landing page. This was pretty simple, too, with some funny GIFs and a playful message: Made You Look.

The power in this campaign was in its solid three step process: first, the billboard got attention. Then, the landing page confirmed a good first impression, and made it easy to reach step three and the real start of the relationship: time with decision makers. 

They wanted a meeting, and they got it… With the Ogilvy New York CEO and the OgilvyOne managing director, two of the highest-level decision-makers in the company.

Learn more about reaching C-suite execs here.

Image via LiamThinks

Increase your sales pipeline by 22% with segmentation.

Direct marketing doesn’t mean you have to think small with your audience. The audience can be as big as you can handle, while still keeping your campaign targeted and personalized. 

DocuSign had over 450 enterprise accounts that they wanted to win over, all in different stages of the buying process. You might think that volume is too high for a B2B direct marketing response campaign that feels personalized and relevant, but not with their system.

First, they created a display ad campaign that showed different messaging depending on the prospect's stage in the buying process. The display ad campaign led to their website, which showed six industry-specific sets of images and copy depending on what was most relevant to the prospect.

By segmenting their prospects, they made their messaging personal and relevant, running a B2B direct marketing response campaign that resulted in a 22% increase in their sales pipeline.

Learn more about making it personal here.

Image via DemandBase

Let’s get deep.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is an information technology company, offering a number of product lines for data storage, computing, and software. They wanted to expand into the lucrative retail industry, but an overwhelming sea of marketing is already directed at those prospects.

HPE needed to cut through the noise and have meaningful conversations with decision-makers. So this tech-heavy company started where most brainiacs do: with a ton of research.

Deep profiles were made for 50 of the top retail companies and the top influencers at each prospective account. All this information was combined into a database, which HPE then used to create targeted content that would build their brand image with their prospects.

Then, once they had established their brand as a thought leader, they hosted an exclusive series of supper clubs for C-suite level execs. They published the events and conclusions of these invitation-only dinners in white papers and blogs. 

These events, along with HPE’s other coordinated ABM efforts, resulted in a pipeline of $150 million. And none of it would have happened without their initial research and the deep understanding of their prospects that came from it.

Read more about HPE’s researched relationships.

Image via b2bmarketing

Using data to help humans.

Couchbase is a NoSQL database provider for enterprise. Couchbase had a handful of high-value clients in highly technical industries, but in order to increase revenue, they needed to move into new, less technical spaces that still valued innovation. 

However, Couchbase was competing with SQL and NoSQL providers who already had heritage accounts in these spaces. In order to break in, they would need to become a recognized name for c-suite level execs and communicate the benefits of their offer in less technical language than they were used to using.

Couchbase implemented a data-based ABM strategy that combined a prospect’s real-world behavior with research-generated social personas. Couchbase used this information to create content that was specific and relevant for their target accounts. 

After delivering this content, they measured engagement and adjusted the next round of content accordingly. So far, this targeted digital content campaign has generated $1.5 million in pipeline opportunities. 

Read more about Couchbase’s data-backed campaign.

image via b2bmarketing

Personalization = big wins for B2B.

Architectural design firm Anderson Canyon was looking to expand their business, but they didn’t want to go the traditional route. In today’s flooded marketing landscape, “traditional” means “ignored.”

Since being remarkable isn’t an option, it’s a requirement, we partnered with Anderson Canyon to create a multimedia direct mailer for their best possible prospects. The unique branded packaging contained a customized video and personal letter detailing how Anderson Canyon could help the prospect and why they made the perfect match.

Since each letter answered each prospect’s problems with personalized solutions, it was immediately and obviously relevant. This made a good first impression and made for a successful campaign with a 14% response rate and nearly $700,000 in their sales pipeline.

Read more about Anderson Canyon’s campaign.

Image via UviaUs

The best things in life are worth waiting for.

SOMAmetrics helped one of their clients reach their perfect prospects with a multi-step B2B direct mail campaign that ensured each stage was personalized and highly relevant. Their client's primary problem was that their product was being confused by C-suite executives with project management software, which they already had.

After significant research into their client's prospects, SOMAmetrics created a white paper discussing the challenges CEOs face and how their client's product would provide the solution: identifying bottlenecks in their organization to complete their projects faster and reach out their goals. 

They followed up with a personalized series of vlogs, blogs, and case studies delivered in a nurture email campaign. Then, they targeted the CEOs with a sales email series and a direct ask for a meeting. In the first 60 days, this campaign earned 278% ROI in new accounts.

Learn more about clarifying your message with your prospects.

image via SOMAmetrics

Light a candle, save the world.

Every year, the World Wildlife Federation sponsors "Earth hour." It's a call for companies and individuals to turn out their lights for one hour. Instead of consuming during that hour, the whole world is encouraged to think about ways we can better support the environment.

Of course, getting companies to go "lights off" can be challenging. To address this challenge, WWF sent a candle in a specially-made box to CEOs. The box looks like an office building viewed from the outside, with all the lights on. When the candle is pulled out, it goes dark.

Not only is the visual striking, but the candle itself acts as a physical reminder that can also be used during Earth hour! 

This campaign hits several sweet spots since it's memorable, practical, and combines most of the senses into one presented item (scent, sight, and touch). The year WWF sent the candles; corporate participation increased 260%. Now that's a remarkable return for one little candle!

More examples that work well for fundraising here.

Image via World Wildlife Fund

A game only a database analyst could love.

DatAvail had a hard task set for them: make database administration fun. They wanted to connect with folks in their industry at trade shows, but first, they had to get their attention.

To do this they created a board game: Datavailopoly. It played off all the insider knowledge and jokes that a database administrator would understand.

Then, they sent out pieces of the game as direct mail, encouraging their prospects to meet up with them at networking events to get their full copy of the board game.

This worked well because of three factors: 

  1. The initial mailer encouraged further contact in an interesting way.
  2. It appealed to “insider” knowledge held by their customer base. 
  3. It was fun!

Add some fun into your campaign, but remember: make sure it’s specifically fun for your target audience!

Check out DatAvail’s board game here. 

image via DatAvile

Making a global brand more human in B2B.

Verizon is not a company who needs an introduction. At least, as far as their mobile solutions go. From a backup wireless network for retail stores, to new complex technologies, and so much in between, they offer a huge variety of digital support services. 

When they rollout or update their offerings, it can be challenging to bring these unique solutions to the correct people in an easy to understand and memorable way. For a multinational company like Verizon, providing a one-on-one sales experience to every client just isn’t feasible for enterprise marketing.

As their partner, we helped them with several specific problems, but for now we’ll just point out the easy-to-use traveling sales kits we designed and manufactured for the team.

Verizon had been having a difficult time at trade shows. They had an incredible sales team, but they just didn’t have the bandwidth to give every interested party who wandered up to their table the engagement they needed to close a sale. 

So we designed sales kits that could help the mobile sales team. The idea was that the kit would start the conversation, and then viewers could speak with the human sales rep to deepen the conversation.

Each kit included a Verizon LTE media player with a 20” display, and every piece of technology needed to run it. The units themselves were simple. Plug it in, and they began demoing Verizon’s digital signage solution.

This was perfect for the on-the-go sales professionals using the kits. Even better: they impressed prospects everywhere they went, like the professional models they are.

Read more about Verizon’s campaigns here.

Overcoming 30+ years of tradition to earn a share of $2 billion in public funds.

Lexia Learning Systems is a Rosetta Stone Company dedicated to developing cutting edge, adaptive software that accelerates literacy outcomes for learners ages 4-18.

Between 2018 and 2021, the state of Texas plans to spend $2 billion on the purchase of literacy programs for public schools. Theoretically those funds are open to any company who applies, but when it came to actually converting leads, Lexia faced massive opponents, including the largest publishing company in the world: Pearson, who had a 30+ year tradition of providing these programs to Texas schools.

To overcome this, UviaUs’ experts worked closely together with the Lexia team to create a set of high-impact, Texas-sized sales kits linked to a playful narrative designed to show off Lexia‘s solution in a way that was approachable and would convert leads into enthusiastic customers.

Six months into the yearlong campaign, Lexia Texas had already met both their lead conversion goal, and their yearly sales goal, with 187% pipeline growth. In purely numerical terms, Lexia has already seen a 5700% return on their marketing campaign investment, with over $32 million in new business projected over the 8-year cycle, based on closed commitments.

Read more about Lexia’s campaign here.

image via UviaUs

One puzzle box. Over 700% ROI.

Most people can’t resist a good mystery. This is why there are approximately one million murder mystery shows and movies (I don’t have the exact number, but that feels accurate). 

People love to solve puzzles and become one of the initiated few who know the answer. You can use this in your direct marketing campaigns, like we did with our client partner BillingTree.

For their direct mail efforts, we created a puzzle box. Inside was an Amazon gift card awaiting the happy recipient, but there was a catch… literally. 

The box was locked, and we didn’t include the combination. 

This element made it so people felt compelled to open the box, because who doesn’t love to solve a mystery? And that compulsion to open the box and see what was inside led to over 700% ROI on this campaign.

Read more about the BillingTree campaign here.

Image via UviaUs

Booking the guy nobody else can get a meeting with.

One Inc. was struggling to reach their perfect prospects. They needed to reach C-suite level insurance executives, but this group is barraged by digital offers every day. Direct mail seemed like the answer, but he sits behind heavy layers of gatekeepers, making him difficult to reach at all, let alone engage.

When they brought us the problem, we did some research, and found that their top prospects were keen to receive meaningful, personalized gifts. 

We designed a high-quality box containing an elegant bottle of wine and a totally personalized video message. Nothing about this presentation was cheaply done, and everything was thoughtfully coordinated for the intended recipient. 

This campaign not only booked meetings, it generated over 200x ROI for One Inc. The lesson? Combine personalization and quality presentation, and it’s magic. 

Read more about the One Inc. campaign here.

Image via UviaUs

We go together like peanut butter and jelly.

When designing your campaign, start by nailing down your message. It’s best to keep your story as simple as possible. If you can hone it down to one sentence, you’re on the right track.

‍We did this with one of our own recent outreach campaigns. During a brainstorming meeting (must have been around lunch time), one of our teammates came up with this sentence: “We go together like peanut butter and jelly.”

‍It was so clever yet so clear that we knew it would be memorable. So we built an entire campaign around it! That campaign put us top of mind and smoothed the way to new client relationships. 

Who knew being known as the “peanut butter and jelly people” would have so many benefits?

Read more about the UviaUs campaign here.

Image via UviaUs

Examples of B2B direct marketing campaigns that drive ROI

Which of these campaigns were your favorite? Are you ready to start designing your own? If you want to talk with a direct marketing expert and ask more questions, we’re always ready to chat. 

In the meantime, you can learn more about direct marketing campaigns by checking out any of these articles.

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