What’s Better: Email or Direct Mail for Your Marketing Campaign?

What’s Better: Email or Direct Mail for Your Marketing Campaign?

Actually, the better question is: which one is best for your situation?  The answer may be to use BOTH in an integrated marketing campaign. This allows you to stay top-of-mind with your customers while simultaneously nurturing prospects along the way to a purchase (often referred to as the sales funnel—a future blog topic!).  For example, a monthly email to your customers with news of a new service you’re launching or a seasonal promotion. Plus a postcard mailing to a list of prospects you want to go after, letting them know you exist (i.e. create awareness) and can help them.  Each method of communication has its advantages:

Email vs. Direct Mail

Email Direct Mail
Lower cost due to no postage Targeted lists readily available by geography,SIC codes, company revenues, etc
Measurable results/ROI tracking Print media are more engaging, more likely
to remain around.
Best with established relationships Best for approaching “strangers” when you don’t have their email address
BUT…purchased lists are expensive and unreliable. BUT…more expensive to execute
Inboxes are increasingly cluttered or blocked by firewalls; only 25-30% ever get opened


Email is best used in a drip campaign
to people you already know.

You are reading this blog article right now because you are a customer of ours or someone who’s interested in our services.  This is part of our ongoing monthly eNewsletter campaign. (Thanks for your interest!)  It works because we already have a relationship with you and, hence, we have your email address.  But we wouldn’t think about “blasting” this to people we don’t know from some list we purchase.  Those are too intrusive for our taste, and most would end up caught in spam folders or quickly deleted without opening.  Relying on email, we save money on printing, mailing services, and postage involved in traditional mailing.  You could make similar use of email to stay top-of-mind with your customers.

Direct Mail is best for prospecting
among people you don’t know.

In other situations, direct mail is preferred.  Let’s say you’ve captured all of Charlotte’s business, and now you’re set to open a new office in Fort Mill for your accounting or consulting business.  You’d like to target small businesses serviced from your new office.  You don’t really know who they all are and certainly don’t have their email addresses.  Sure, join those networking groups in Fort Mill, but that can take years to get noticed by the total audience you’re targeting. Direct mail to the rescue!  Now you can begin corresponding with strangers who might have interest in what you’re offering and eventually turn some into customers.

Marketing is about communication.  Thankfully, there are so many tools available to help you start a conversation. However, there is no silver bullet. The challenge is in choosing the right mix between email and direct mail and how you combine them with all other media options to achieve your goals and maximize your returns.