Direct Mail vs Email Marketing

20 Advantages direct mail has over email marketing.

Direct mail vs email marketing? Clients are often asking which is better … direct mail or email marketing? What are the benefits of email marketing? Benefits of direct mail? In my opinion direct mail is more effective than email marketing … due to the inherent direct mail benefits highlighted in this article. Of course direct mail has one major weakness … cost. Email is significantly cheaper. However, while direct mail has a higher front-end, on the back-end direct mail is cheaper when calculating cost per sale.

NOTE: The following presentation relates to prospecting. Email is a very effective medium for communicating and selling customers. However, from the perspective of prospecting … finding new customers … the following presentation indicates direct mail is much more effective.


1. HIGHER RESPONSE: When searching for “new” customers, study after study proves direct mail will generate more new customers than email. A recent study by the DMA (Direct Marketing Association) shows direct mail being 10 to 30 times more effective than email.

An Epsilon study found that over 50% of consumers prefer direct mail over email. And 67% feel direct mail is more personal than the Internet. 70% preferred mail for receiving unsolicited information from unfamiliar companies.

3. MORE TRUSTWORTHY: The Epsilon study also found that 25% of consumers found direct mail offers more trustworthy than email offers.

4. MORE PROSPECTS: Accurate – quality email addresses are very difficult to acquire – mainly because most people do not opt-in for third party offers. For this reason, all email lists are missing the majority of the target. Typically a direct mail list offers 80% more prospects.

5. LESS COMPETITION: More than ever consumers are bombarded with digital offers that they don’t want. Email is now the cluttered option, while direct mail represents the uncluttered option. With direct mail your offer will not get loss in avalanche of competitive offers.

6. SPECIAL – UNIQUE: Unlike the old days when every marketer was using direct mail, these days a mail piece is special and unique. These days it’s not often when someone receives a personalized envelope with a catchy teaser – open me – line. This uniqueness will inherently stimulate more interest from the reader … thus response.

7. LONG SHELF LIFE: The shelf-life of an email offer is measured in seconds, while a direct mail piece can linger on a coffee table for days.

8. MORE SELECTIVITY: Most email lists do not offer the extensive array of selectivity factors available with a direct mail list. With a direct mail list you can pinpoint your best prospects … cream of the crop prospects, while email often forces marketers to take the old-fashion shot-gun approach.

9. HIGHER DELIVERY RATE. A direct mail list is typically 95% deliverable. On the other hand, the great majority of email lists being advertised have a delivery below 50%. Also, due to the constant onslaught by spammers, the ISPs (Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc) are beginning to block unsolicited emails … and for this reason some are predicting the demise of email “prospecting.” Fantastic offer, fantastic creative, fantastic list … all this is irrelevant if the ISPs don’t deliver. With direct mail – your offer gets delivered!

10. HIGHER OPEN RATE: With the great majority of email “prospecting” campaigns, 95+ percent of all emails are not even opened. The email recipient will either delete or transfer to the SPAM box … without even peeking at the email … your brand name. On the other hand, direct mail is a tangible item that typically captures a glance. The receiver may not read every word, but your company name/brand will gain much more awareness with direct mail than email.

11. SAFE: With the growing threat of identity theft, viruses, and SPAM, people are becoming more and more hesitating in responding to on-line offers … even legitimate interesting offers. Direct mail is safe … the user can visit website on own time schedule and without having to click potentially dangerous links.

12. IMPROVES EMAIL RESPONSE RATE: One sure way to boost email OPEN and CLICK-THROUGH rates is with direct mail. One week before the email blast, send the email recipient a postcard informing that a special “email” offer will soon arrive. This one-two punch will increase the odds that the email recipient will OPEN the email … instead of deleting before even blinking at the email.

13. MORE CONTROL: The majority of quality email list suppliers will not release their email addresses. With direct mail you can receive the direct list. Having a prospecting database in-house … offers innumerable marketing applications / opportunities; for example, data append, market analysis, market penetration reports, SalesForce Prospecting Management, Telemarketing Follow-Up Campaigns.

14. TELEMARKETING. A direct mail list can also include phone numbers. A telemarketing list is not the ideal tool for generating sales, BUT telemarketing is very effective for gathering information on potential customers … relationship formation.

15. INCREASE WEB TRAFFIC & ONLINE SALES: Direct mail has a tremendous influence on generating online sales. Per USPS study, over 60% of direct mail recipients were influenced to visit promoted website – with the greatest influence on first-time shoppers. Direct mail recipients purchased 28% more items and spent 28% more money than non direct mail recipients. The study also noted a revenue lift of 163% for websites supported by direct mail as opposed to those that were not.
SOURCE: USPS survey of 5,000 visitors to retail websites

… 46% direct mail recipients read/looked at their direct mail.
… 23% visited the sender’s store location
… 21% visited the sender’s website
… 12% called an 800# listed on the mailer
… 9% replied via email

17. VERIFICATION: With an email campaign there is no way to verify the accuracy / quality of the email list since in most cases the email supplier will not provide the email contact data to the marketer. With a direct mail list the marketer has a physical address … that you can cross reference with other databases for verifying demographics / quality.

18. HISPANICS AND DIRECT MAIL: Due to cultural and other issues, direct mail is an excellent way for reaching Hispanics. According to a USPS survey, Hispanics are six times less likely than non-Hispanics to discard their direct mail without reviewing. And even though Hispanics look forward to direct mail, Hispanics receive 20% fewer direct mail pieces than the average non-Hispanic household.

  HISPANICS LIKE TO SHOP: 56% of all Hispanics said they enjoy shopping … while only 39% of non-Hispanic Americans agreed. Hispanics also spend more … spending $1,992 last year on clothing and accessories … which is about $900 more than non-Hispanic Americans.

  BI-LINGUAL POST CARD: 72% of Hispanics receive their direct mail in English, but 36% prefer direct mail in Spanish. What’s the solution? Reach Hispanics with a bi-lingual direct mail postcard.

19. CONSUMERS LIKE THE TACTILE NATURE OF DIRECT MAIL: In focus groups consumers said the interactive part of direct mail helped them connect to the brand and left a lasting impression.

20. DISCOUNTS: Consumers believe more valuable discounts/coupons come through the mail than email. For example, over 50% prefer receiving credit card offers via mailbox than Inbox.

SUMMARY:  For “prospecting” … direct mail is more effective than email! Email “prospecting” is losing its power and direct mail is gaining strength. And for this reason some of the biggest Internet names (Google, Facebook, Microsoft) are major direct mail users. Marketers that use direct mail will gain a competitive edge on the competitors that skip direct mail.

Copyright © 2012 by Kenneth Dante Newton

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