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In today’s ever evolving and changing world, businesses are tasked with finding the best and most effective way to market themselves. And nowadays, marketing is all about utilizing the marketing channels available to drive the most leads and sales for the lowest cost. 

So why are we talking about direct mail and email marketing? Because they both are marketing methods that businesses use to increase brand awareness, drive leads and sales and increase engagement. 

While both email and direct mail are working towards the same overall goal, they each have their own benefits and downfalls. 

Here in this article we’re discussing what direct mail and email marketing are, the differences between the two channels and how they can work together for your business.


What is Direct Mail?

To really dig into the debate of direct mail vs email marketing, we think it’s important to first answer the question “What Exactly is Direct Mail?”. We know that a majority of people reading this know the answer but we’re going to answer it anyway. 

By definition, direct mail is a form of marketing that involves sending a physical piece of promotional or marketing material to an intended audience or recipient. Examples of direct mail pieces include postcards, dimensional mail, flyers, brochures and catalogs. 


What is Email Marketing?

Similar to direct mail, it may seem unnecessary to define what email marketing is. In its simplest form, email marketing is a form of direct marketing that uses email to promote a business’s products or services. There are a ton of different types of email marketing including transactional emails, promotional emails, informational emails and email automation. 


What Are The Differences Between Email and Direct Mail?

Now that we’ve defined what direct mail marketing and email marketing are, we can look at what are the major differences between email and direct mail. 

Direct Mail Marketing

  • More costly – direct mail is a slightly less affordable marketing channel because of the cost to print and mail the direct mail pieces each time you want to send out a direct mail campaign
  • Response rates tend to be lower – while direct mail can still result in high response rates, compared to email, it’s typically lower because any action that needs to be taken from direct mail involves manually typing in an URL on your device, scanning a QR code, or picking up the phone to call the phone number listed

Email Marketing 

  • Highly affordable – email marketing is a much more affordable marketing channel because the monthly cost of an email marketing platform is typically very affordable and you can send multiple emails overtime
  • Higher response rate due to convenience – with email marketing, the response rates tends to be higher because it’s much easier to click a link in an email sent to your phone or desktop 


Should You Use Email or Direct Mail?

When asked “How do you choose between email or direct mail?”, the answer really depends on what your print company’s goals are. There isn’t a clear cut answer on which you should use because there are benefits to both channels that we’re breaking down below to help you decide which to use.


Benefits of Direct Mail

Direct Mail is Personal

You can include the recipient’s name, information about the area where they live, or the use of demographic data that makes it feel like the piece was designed specifically for them. 

Higher Brand Recall with Direct Mail

Since there are so many emails hitting people’s inboxes everyday, it’s easy for your company’s content to get lost in the mix and forgotten. With direct mail, the piece you send out may stay in their home for a longer period of time which extends the longevity of brand awareness

Segmentation in Direct Mail

Direct mail is one of the only channels that ensures your message is getting to your intended audience. Unlike other channels like email, radio or tv, you can almost guarantee that they will see it. Capitalize on this and segment the customer list based on geographic or demographic information to make sure your direct mail piece speaks to the recipient. 


Benefits of Email Marketing

Email is Easily measurable 

By default, email platforms provide reporting data that will show you how many people opened and clicked on your email so you’ll never wonder if your email was effective. 

Email Marketing Can Be Instant

One of the biggest benefits of email marketing is the ability to get a message out to your contacts quickly or almost instantly. If you’re offering a promotion on a specific printed product or service, you can easily put together an email and send it out without having to wait on anything to be printed and mailed. 

Higher ROI from Email 

Because you’re likely spending less on email marketing and the response rates tend to be higher, you’re almost guaranteed to see a higher return on investment from email. 

How Can Direct Mail & Email Work Together?

The great thing about marketing for print companies is that you don’t have to choose to do Direct Mail OR Email, there’s room to do both. The key is strategically employing both channels to maximize your return. 

So how can email and direct mail work together simultaneously? You can create a campaign where you send out an email about a promotion on window graphics that you’re offering then follow up that email with a postcard with a reminder of the promotion encouraging them to take advantage of the offer. 

That’s just one example but there are a number of ways you can use both to increase brand awareness and visibility, website traffic, leads and sales. 

Our hope is that after reading this, you can better understand direct mail and email marketing and more importantly, how it can play a role in your marketing strategy.