Email Marketing vs. Direct Mail: Is One More Effective in 2021?

Alex Abbott

Alex Abbott About The Author

May 28, 2021 9:30:00 AM


Email Marketing vs. Direct Mail: Is One More Effective in 2021?

It can become incredibly challenging to decide how to reach your target audience with your brand message and promotions, especially as marketing evolves into so many distinct channels. However, sometimes the simple, long-lasting options are still the best.  Email marketing and direct mail have always been viable contenders, and they’re not going away any time soon. These two types of marketing get information to customers by directly placing your ads in front of them, and in most cases, are generally well-received by the public. 

Sixty-one percent of consumers enjoy receiving promotional emails weekly with 38% wanting emails to come more frequently, and 54% of consumers want to receive direct mail from brands that interest them

The key is to find which one is more effective for your campaign purpose and goals. Here's what you need to know to make that decision. 

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What is Email Marketing? 

Screen Shot 2021-05-26 at 12.36.50 PMEmail marketing is the process of sending a group of customers or prospects commercial messages via email. It is any email sent by a company that doesn't answer a customer's questions or confirms a given order. It's great for reaching consumers when it's most convenient for them while also being cost-effective and generally easy to navigate and manage.  

Email marketing is also one of the most successful marketing forms since it is continually relevant, averaging returns of $42 for every $1 spent. It influences 59% of respondents into making purchasing decisions and has a conversion rate of 2.3%, compared to 1% for social media. 

It’s a fantastic method for increasing sales by encouraging action when customers are on the verge of making decisions by giving them extra discounts or reminders. Take, for instance, a retail store that sends an email reminder about a sale ending on a customer's items in their online cart. It brings the consumer's attention back to the sale and encourages immediate action without being too pushy. 

What Is Direct Mail Advertising? 

Direct mail advertising involves sending promotional content via the postal service. It can be a bit more expensive than email marketing, but it can reach consumers without their prior permission. You don’t need people to subscribe and won’t have to worry about unsubscribing or your email being reported as spam. Ads are often seen and read by the household and typically generates quick responses. 

Over 42% of direct mail receivers read or scan the mail they get, and 79% of consumers respond immediately to direct mail after seeing it. 

It is best used to build and maintain relationships with your consumers directly, no matter where they are in the buyer journey.  

Publishers Clearing House went as far as asking receivers to find hidden stickers throughout their mailing and stick them on the sweepstakes entry to win a prize. It keeps respondents engaged and involved with your brand while also making them feel valued by the prize. 

What Are The Benefits Of Each Type Of Marketing? 

Email Marketing 

Email marketing’s main advantages are that it's cost-effective, easily personalized, and can retarget past customers to keep them as returning customers. You can quickly get information out and directly lead customers to your website or social media.  

Many marketers also like using email because it has many creative opportunities to stand out in an inbox. When done correctly, consumers are encouraged to open your email and are more likely to remember your brand over others because it stands out. 

However, one of the more significant benefits of email is its open rate and ability to measure your successes to build off them. The average email open rate is 22.02%, with some companies getting as much as a 30.85% open rate. 

People usually check their email daily, giving you many opportunities to track your marketing success to inform future decisions better. You’re able to adjust your strategy if something isn’t working while learning what brings you the best return. 

Direct Mail Advertising 

Screen Shot 2021-05-26 at 12.36.55 PMConsumer mail is checked daily, making your ads seen more regularly by your customers. There's also less competitiveness when marketing locally in an empty mailbox than email, where hundreds (if not more) are sent to a single user daily. It can be more effective with spreading promotional offers and encouraging customers to visit local businesses. 

Most significantly, direct mail can get information out to many people in a targeted geographic area. You have to be careful with this tactic, however. Mail does not often spur customer emotion and risks getting discarded if it isn't personalized to the receiver or relevant to their household. 

Seventy-three percent of American consumers prefer being contacted by brands via direct mail because they can read it whenever they want. For roughly every 36 emails consumers receive, they get one piece of mail on average. You have less competition but bigger expectations for reaching consumers with the right message in the right way.  

Which Is Better For You? 

Your success with either marketing method will depend on your marketing goals, as both direct mail and email marketing are uniquely beneficial and can work together well.  

Email has some of the highest open rates and effectiveness through inbound marketing strategies, which provide steady value to customers while staying within your budget. There are more than 1.5 billion email users, and it typically reaches 85% of the people you send it to with a 3.71% CTR throughout all industries. 

On the other hand, direct mail is great for reaching local customers to increase foot traffic to your store and has a high ROI when implemented well. Direct mail’s customer response rate increased by 43%. Its prospect response rate increased by 190% compared to years earlier. 

You can implement email and direct mail simultaneously to improve their respective effectiveness. Regular emails with occasional direct mail can get your audience's attention pretty well. People are more receptive to ads they already have familiarity with, which increases the likelihood customers will see and act on your content. 

Both Methods Have Their Strengths and Weaknesses  

Screen Shot 2021-05-26 at 12.37.01 PMBoth methods can be beneficial, depending on the marketing goals you're aiming to reach. The more you know about each, the better prepared you will be to execute the right tactics and reach your target audience. Their unique strengths and weaknesses offer different possible uses. 

If conducting this strategy is too much to take on at this time, consider working with a media partner. They have the expertise and resources to help you target your audience with effective marketing materials. You can segment your customers accordingly to reach them in the way they’re most receptive. 

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Topics: Strategic Planning & Research, Email Marketing