We have done some direct mailing pieces and they seem to do well. But we have some special assets that assist us. Our marketing director is a highly experienced and talented professional who has seen many DM pieces through. We have a high average order size ($500+) that can make a low response rate successful and we have probably the best overall site in our niche.
Be careful about investing in DM before you are ready and try to get someone who has done it many times before to help you through the process. It's quite different from tossing up a couple of PPC campaigns. ;)
b2b is very cheap to mail to a very targeted list because they are yellow pages derived. ie if you have a product for hardware stores, it is easy and cheap to get a us list of hardware stores.
b2c is way more complicated. say you are selling women's clothing - you'll want to buy a list of female buyers within the last 12 months from reputable catalogs - this will be expensive and it takes a lot of experience to get the right list and match it with the right offering - b2c= pros only!
Direct mail (AKA junk mail) is a waste of money and time. For both B2B and B2C, save the trees and look into Variable Data Printing (VDP).
Highly-personalized direct response campaigns will cost more per piece but will generate much better results. It smashes PPC campaigns. Check case studies at Xerox, printspot, on card, XM Pie, and digital printers.
Cross media campaigns (web, email, direct response, etc.) can be tracked. We use bar codes for print to retail store or promo codes on the direct response pieces so we know if people are curious about the "special offer" when they go online.
Try to get mailing lists that have some demographic data or use a house list which is ALWAYS the best.
Good luck. :j
[edited by: lorax at 3:10 pm (utc) on May 26, 2006] [edit reason] no URLs please [/edit]
I have no idea about the trader's side as on-line retail isn't my area of business but all the sites that I spend regularly at are those that I have had written contact with. I am always more comformable with "clicks and mortar" businesses.
A lot of punters are happier with a printed catalog - make the choice sitting on the sofa with a coffee then go to the PC.
All my customers receive at least two mail outs in the 12 months after doing business. Cold mail shots (B2B) are targeted on small groups identified from journals and directories.