Direct Mail vs. Email Blasts: Pros and Cons

Jamie Ryan Levitt

Jamie Ryan Levitt About The Author

Mar 1, 2021 9:30:00 AM

Direct Mail vs. Email Blasts- Pros and Cons

Both direct mail and email can improve your marketing results, but it's essential to know the distinctions between them to make the right choice. In some cases, you may want to use one or the other, but in others, both can be useful. A recent survey found that 60% of marketers saw increased ROI with both digital and direct mail combined.

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Keeping the differences in mind can help you decide which method to use and how to use it, but more often than not, using direct mail in conjunction with email can drive success. Your direct mail campaigns can connect local audiences with quick promotions. Meanwhile, your email campaigns can effectively nurture leads from your direct mail campaigns to bring them through the sales funnel toward a purchase.

The following is a breakdown of the pros and cons of direct mail vs. email blasts to inform your marketing strategy. 

Email Marketing Pros

There are several advantages of using email that make it ideal for many businesses.

Email Has High ROI

If you want to boost ROI, email is potentially a great way to do it. Email can generate ROI as high as $38 for every dollar spent. ROI will differ depending on your industry and other factors, but it's one of the most cost-effective marketing channels when used the right way.

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Email Generates Website Traffic

Email can encourage people to visit your website if you include strong CTAs and offers. For example, you may send emails containing information about your product or service offerings, leading people to visit your website to learn more. People may also click through to make a purchase, which emails announcing sales or promotions can help drive significantly.

Has the Ability to Retarget Past Customers

Email makes it easy to connect with past customers who may be interested in doing business with you again. You can attract past customers by reminding them about your offerings or sending personalized recommendations, which will entice them to come back, especially if they liked their initial purchases.

Has Personalized Content

Email allows for more personalization and segmentation to provide a stronger connection with target audiences. You can send emails that feature recipients' names and locations or send specific recommendations based on their interests or past purchases. You can also send more unique messaging that corresponds to specific audiences, including those of certain demographics or who entered the sales funnel at a particular touchpoint.

Is Easy and Cost-Effective

Email is also incredibly easy to use and potentially very cost-effective. You can automate many email processes, and you don't need to worry about the costs of printing and other tasks that come with direct mail campaigns. You'll be able to save both time and money with a properly implemented email campaign.

Builds Credibility and Trust

Using emails, you can show consumers precisely what you're offering them and what makes you worth trusting. You can follow up and remain consistently communicative when leads enter the sales funnel, effectively nurturing them until they make a purchase. You can also educate audiences and show that you bring value to them, which you often can't do with the limitations of direct mail pieces.

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Email Marketing Cons

While many benefits come with email marketing, there are certain disadvantages to keep in mind.

Must Be Consistent and Dedicated in Your Efforts

For email to work, you need to make sure your emails are of consistent quality and frequency. This can take some time as you plan your email campaigns and determine when and what to send. You also need to make sure that email campaigns are relevant to and aligned with the other campaigns they support, whether connected to digital ads, TV commercials, specific webpages, or other marketing efforts.

Easy to Unsubscribe

If people aren't interested in your brand or offerings, it's easy for them to click an unsubscribe button and get off your mailing list. Once they're gone, it can be hard or even impossible to bring them back.

Direct Mail Pros

If you're considering using direct mail, there are a couple of key benefits of using these campaigns.

Direct Mail Can Be Sent to Large Groups

If you want to connect with larger audiences, direct mail can help you target many recipients. You can choose specific audiences and neighborhoods in certain geographic areas and maximize coverage. However, with so many targets and the costs of printing and sending physical mail pieces, you could exceed your available budget very quickly.

Direct Mail is More Promotional

If your goal is to drive more sales, direct mail can often be more effective than email. With attractive mail pieces, you can advertise promotions and encourage people to take advantage of discounts or sales, with concise messaging and designs that lend a sense of urgency.

Direct Mail Cons

Like email, there are certain downsides of direct mail to be aware of.

Direct Mail Has a Chance of Getting Discarded

It's true that around 90% of direct mail pieces are opened, but that doesn't account for taking action beyond that. Unfortunately, many people are likely to simply toss out direct mail pieces with other perceived "junk" mail. While some people may set direct mail aside to view later, it may go forgotten as it sits in a pile with other neglected mail pieces.

Direct Mail Doesn't Prompt Much Emotion

It's hard to develop a strong emotional connection with audiences through direct mail. You only have a limited space to use for text and visual elements, which won't enable you to establish any kind of lasting bond the way you can with email. Direct mail can be great at driving more sales and encouraging people to visit your physical locations, but they won't be as effective at appealing to audiences on a personal level.

Requires Address Data and is Time Consuming

When launching a direct mail campaign, you need to collect physical address data and build your contact lists, which can be much more time-consuming than email.

As you choose between direct mail vs. email blasts, weigh the pros and cons of both as you develop your marketing plans. Often, one or the other can be useful depending on your goals, but using both email and direct mail together can make sure you benefit from the best of both worlds. With a well-developed integrated marketing campaign behind your business, you'll be able to resonate with audiences and build a stronger relationship with leads and customers.

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