Direct mail vs. email marketing: Studies show surpising results Blog added by Emily Hutto on July 20, 2012
Emily Hutto

Emily Hutto

Denver , CO

Joined: June 18, 2012

My Company

Whether you’re approaching potential clients with snail mail or email campaigns, it's important to remember that no matter the approach, you have a relatively engaged audience on the other end.

In my blog about a direct mail postcard I received recently from an insurance company, I argued that direct mail marketing is a dying trend. On the same day I posted it, a company called Mail Revolution launched its brand new website. I guess they beg to differ.

Mail Revolution, based in Amarillo, Texas, is a marketing company that specializes in direct mail. Their goal, says a PRWire press release, is to give business owners the ability to do entire mailings from their homes or offices. “Mail Revolution’s target audience is small businesses that want to advertise with marketing materials, but do not have the budget to successfully do so,” says the press release.

I visited, where the company offers instant quotes for its brochure, postcard and other collateral services. I found that 1,000 5x7 full-color, double-sided postcards with glossy coating costs about $530.

That number is comparable to the approximately $556 per 1,000 letter-sized mailings that the Direct Marketing Association found to be the amount spent on direct marketing last year. An article on cites this report, which also concludes that while direct mail still generates the highest response rate of all other kinds of direct marketing, it falls short when it comes to return on investment.

Response rates, says the report, for letter-sized direct mail were just over three percent, as compared to the response rate for email marketing at 0.12 percent. The email’s ROI, though, was more than 28 percent, while the ROI for the direct mail was only 7 percent.

Why could that be?

Consider the postcard I wrote about yesterday. It was incredibly misleading. (I pointed out one critical flaw, and I’m hoping you’ll all comment and do the same.) A direct mail recipient might call the number on the postcard looking for more information, only to discover less than desirable numbers, or potentially even a scam.

While it’s less clear why email marketing is more successful in terms of ROI, my hunch is that the companies launching these e-marketing campaigns are social media savvy, and therefore have established, informative websites to which they can link potential customers. These websites likely link to other industry news and blogs, which ultimately give the reader resources to research the products available. An educated customer is much more likely to become a client than a novice answering an ambiguous postcard in his or her mailbox. Not to mention, most Web dealings (online ads, email marketing software, pay-per-click services, etc.) are much less expensive than those in print. Less money spent almost always equals a higher ROI.

My last significant takeaway from the Direct Marketing Association report is that financial emails had open rates of more than 30 percent. Not too shabby for email marketing.

Whether you’re approaching potential clients with snail mail or email campaigns, important to remember is that no matter the approach, you have a relatively engaged audience on the other end. Don’t spam them or send misleading information. Give them the facts- that’s what they’re looking for.
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