Direct mail vs. email marketing

Direct Mail vs. Email Marketing – Which Drives Better Results?

Competition in every industry is becoming tougher with each passing day. Companies are trying hard to get seen and acquire customers. Modern marketing is all about finding the best channel for a maximum number of conversions effortlessly. The battle of direct mail vs. email marketing has been out for years.

In today’s digital world, everyone has an email address and a physical address for sure. In 2020, there was an estimate of 4 billion email users, and by 2024, the number is projected to be 5 billion.

Experts say both direct mail and email marketing can bring impressive results for acquisition campaigns. Both marketing channels can bring new prospects into your fold.

Direct Mail vs. Email Marketing at a Glance

The comparison of direct mail and email marketing as stand-alone channels raises a few questions. Both marketing channels are ideal to drive conversions, boost engagements, and increase brand awareness.  

Pros and cons of direct mail

As the effectiveness of email begins to decline, you can use the power of direct mail to support it. No marketing channel is too perfect; everything has its benefits and limitations.


  • Direct mail is no longer dull. You can personalize it with different call-to-actions.
  • You can build an emotional connection with your targeted audience.
  • Direct mail has proven to be an ideal way to drive traffic to your website.
  • The biggest advantage of direct mail is that it is highly targeted.


  • Design cost and complexity is the primary disadvantage for digital marketers.
  • It can be a somewhat complex process to collect the physical addresses for direct mail marketing.
  • Direct mail can be costly as the cost per acquisition is high, but the ROI is low. The price also depends on your campaign size.
  • You can’t send direct mail instantly. So it may not be suitable for your campaigns depending on the requirements.

Pros and cons of email marketing

Recent stats have shown that more than 74 trillion emails are sent every day. The low cost of email marketing makes it extremely popular among marketers. More than 80% of B2B and B2C companies use email marketing.


  • You can track the performance of your email marketing campaigns conveniently.
  • Instant delivery and a better open rate of email make the direct mail vs. email marketing debate more interesting.
  • Email marketing is highly inexpensive. The cost of starting a campaign is low, and the ROI is significantly high.
  • Emails are better for the environment when compared to direct mail as nothing gets printed.


  • One of the primary disadvantages of email marketing is spam. People are getting tired of receiving hundreds of spam daily.
  • Building a good email list costs time and effort. You can purchase a cheap email list, but you can’t expect good results from it.
  • Bounced or undelivered emails can restrict your message from reaching the right person.
  • Your creativity with email will be limited. There are also several technical issues with email marketing.


Direct mail vs. email marketing


Direct Mail vs. Email Marketing – Comparing the results

Direct mail and email marketing performances play a crucial role in deciding which channel is ideal for modern-day marketing. These statistics also help to state the difference between their performances in a better way.

1. Cost

Both email marketing and direct mail request investment to gather the audience data. When you look to target the new prospects that are not engaged with your company before, you need a way to reach them. It can be the third-party email contact data or a list of physical addresses.

The cost of email marketing can include the platform you are using to send the email. The additional cost of direct mail includes the design, content, mailing material, printing, and postage.

Email marketing is by far the most cost-effective marketing channel compared to other marketing strategies.

2. Response rate

Several studies have proved that more than 90% of direct mail gets opened. While the open rate of email is only 20-30%. A better open rate ultimately results in a better response rate.

Direct mail response rates range from 2.9% to 5.3%, and email marketing has a response rate of only 0.6%. When you are comparing direct mail vs. email marketing, the response rate can be a game-changer.

When you strategically design our mail piece and deliver it to the highly targeted audience, you will be more likely to be pleased with the response rate.

3. Return on Investment

Email marketing produces a better return on investment than direct mail. It is an ideal channel to convert customers and drive higher sales. You will not get a better ROI other than email marketing.

A recent study proved that an effective email marketing strategy generates $44 for every dollar spent. The return on investment is 3800%, and you can also track it easily.

The average ROI for direct mail is $7 for every $1 spent. The cost to acquire new customers is higher in direct mail, and that’s why its ROI is also low. Direct mail cost-per-acquisition is $44 compared to the email cost-per-question of only $20.

4. Measurability

Almost all people open their mail to make sure it is not an important document. There is no way to track what happens once the recipient has received the direct mail unless he responds to your call-to-action.

When it comes to email marketing, you can track the results. Email allows digital tracking of when a message is opened, including the day and time. Whenever the recipients click on the link in the email, you will get noticed.

It will provide you with a deeper insight into the customer journey to personalize the follow-up messages.

5. Other Statistics

  • Mailing address doesn’t change too often. It makes direct mail more valid. Email addresses can change all the time, and it is one of the biggest concerns of marketers with email.
  • 80% of customers take immediate action to the CTA in direct mail, whereas only 45% of email recipients take action.
  • The average lifespan of direct mail is 17 days, and an email’s lifespan is only 2-3 seconds.
  • The cognitive effort required for direct mail is 21% less when compared to email.
  • Direct mail generates 34% of customers, and it is 10% more than email.

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Quick tips for an effective direct mail campaign

Here are some quick tips for an effective direct mail campaign:

  • Identify Your Target Market: Determine the characteristics of your ideal customer, such as age, gender, income, and location.
  • Refresh Your Mailing List: Ensure that your mailing list is current and contains accurate information.
  • Provide Value to Your Customers: Offer something of value to your customers, such as a special promotion or discount.
  • Design a Compelling Mail Piece: Use attention-grabbing graphics and a clear message to capture the interest of your recipients.
  • Craft a Strong Call-to-Action: Make sure your call-to-action is clear and persuasive, motivating recipients to take action.
  • Pay Attention to the Details: Make sure that all aspects of your direct mail campaign, from the design to the delivery, are carefully planned and executed.
  • Analyze Your Results: Monitor the success of your direct mail campaign and make adjustments as needed.

Remember that according to direct marketing expert Edward Mayer, the success of a direct mail campaign relies on the 40-40-20 rule. This rule states that 40% of the success of a direct mail campaign depends on the audience, 40% on the offer, and 20% on the creative

Quick tips for an effective email campaign

Here are some quick tips for an effective email campaign:

  • Identify Your Target Market: Determine the characteristics of your ideal customer, such as age, gender, income, and location.
  • Categorize Your Email List: Organize your email list into groups based on factors such as engagement, interests, and behavior.
  • Personalize Your Emails: Use techniques such as addressing recipients by name and customizing content to their interests to personalize your emails.
  • Craft Compelling Subject Lines: Use eye-catching subject lines to increase the likelihood of your emails being opened.
  • Provide Valuable Content: Offer something of value to your subscribers, such as exclusive content or special promotions.
  • Test and Refine: Regularly test different elements of your emails, such as subject lines and call-to-actions, to determine what works best.
  • Track Your Metrics: Monitor key metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates to measure the success of your campaign.

By following these tips, you can create an effective email campaign that engages your subscribers and drives conversions.

Wrapping the Direct Mail vs. Email Marketing Debate

So who wins the direct mail vs. email market debate? There is no clear winner. Direct mail and email marketing have very different characteristics, but both can go hand-in-hand to reinforce each other.

51% of companies prefer to use the combination of mail and email. Email marketing used with the direct mail campaign helps achieve better brand awareness, increase ROI, and better conversions.

Marketers looking to drive new business can achieve their goals with a multichannel marketing approach at a cost that is more cost-effective and more efficient. The key advice is to know the right time to utilize the strength of each platform and enhance direct mail with digital call-to-action to drive traffic to your website.