Direct Mail vs. Email: Which Is More Effective?

Published May 6th, 2020 by Devteam

These days, most marketers use both direct mail and emails in their campaigns. That said, only one of these can be the superior choice.  Which side should your business take in the mail vs. email debate? That depends on your budget, needs, and preferences. To make your decision a bit easier, we'll note the main benefits and drawbacks of these two approaches.

Direct Mail Marketing

Do you still think of direct mail as a tired form from a bygone era? If so, you haven't heard about the recent advances in this field. Right now, the direct mail vs. email race is a lot closer than many people think. Even the people at Forbes think so, too. 


The Modern Approach

With modern technology, using QR codes has become an effective marketing method. By scanning the codes with their phones, your customers can go directly to your landing pages. That way, you can provide special discounts to unique prospects. 

Much like email, you can also integrate direct mail with your CRM. Though the data collection won't go as fast, you can still track the success of your direct mail campaigns. This even allows you to send direct mail based on your leads' actions.

Great Engagement

The use of direct mail campaigns allows for greater engagement with your audience. They are physically holding your mail in their hands; it doesn’t get more tangible than that. It also makes it much easier to reach prospects. They're also more likely to engage with your message, leading to important conversions.

Emotional Connection

As mentioned, direct mail appeals to consumers in a more emotional way than email. Remember, most people finish reading their emails in two seconds. When it comes to direct mail marketing statistics, the average lifespan of direct mail is 17 days.

Targeted Mailing Lists

If you don’t already have a list that you’d like to mail to, you can always purchase a list that is targeted to your audience. Do you have a certain demographic or criteria for your audience? Or maybe you’d like to mail to a certain zip code? These are all possibilities to consider for a positive response with your direct mail campaigns. 


Design Complexity

Designing print pieces is still more complex than designing an email. Finding templates isn't as easy, so you may need to hire a designer

On the bright side, there are several mail tools that make design easier and some print houses that offer great graphic design services. Regardless of which method you choose, graphic design isn't something you should skimp on.

Initial Investment

Compared to the very cheap cost of email, direct mail is in another category. The various costs include editing, printing, postage, and materials. There are ways to cut these costs -- segmenting your address lists, for instance -- but not all of them.

Email Marketing

With the arrival of email, many marketers were quick to dismiss direct mail as obsolete. For the first few decades of email's dominance, this was true. In recent years, though, the answer to "mail or email" isn't as clear.


A Value Proposition

The main selling point of email marketing is that it's affordable for everyone. 

If you personalize your content, the returns get even better. This is evident in click-through rates, which improve by an average of 14% with some personalization. Your conversion rate could also see major improvements.

Low Entry Barrier

With online service providers, getting started is easy. They provide features such as editable templates, custom forms, and so on. 

Easy Analysis

As soon as you press "send," your email will reach its destination. 

If you integrate email with your CMS, this gives you real-time data on open rate, deliverability, click-through rate, and more. Once you have this information, you'll know how to tweak your future campaigns.

Instant Delivery

Thanks to the speed of email, contacting your prospects has never been easier. Your prospects can use your content at an instant speed as well as clicking any links you provide.


The Spam Issue

No marketer likes seeing the word "unsubscribed," but this is still a common sight. At this moment, spam messages account for 45% of all emails.

In other words, prospects are always getting bombarded with messages they don't care about. A certain percentage of your target audience will see your emails as spam as well. At this point, many prospects avoid opening their email altogether.

Lack of Personality

With all the pros listed above, most brands use email marketing in their campaigns. This has led to an over-saturated market where it's hard to stand out. Over the years, email marketing has also become less personal, and thus, less effective.

Difficult Customization

Though email customization can yield great results, it's not easy to achieve. The templates from email services are a good starting point, but they have their limits. In many cases, you'll only be able to change the basic layouts.

Keep in mind that effective emails need to be creative while retaining their simplicity. And even if you create a great email, your prospects may not be able to see it. After all, many Gmail users read emails without rendered images.

Mail vs. Email: Who Wins?

This may sound like a cop-out, but most businesses could use both of these marketing methods.

See, one thing we haven't mentioned is that mail and email can work great together. For instance, you can send your prospects an email teasing something coming in the mail. That way, their anticipation will rise at no cost to your budget.

If you have to choose one channel, look at your needs. Both channels are great for their own reasons, but your business may skew you in one direction. The above information should let you know about where you stand in the mail vs. email picture.

Looking for a printing and mailing service that can carry out your direct mail campaign? We can help you out! Request a quote to get our pricing, offers, and product information!

Service You Can Trust