Direct Mail vs. Email Marketing: What you Need to Know

Mike Steggerda

Mike Steggerda About The Author

Dec 15, 2020 8:30:00 AM

Direct Mail vs. Email Marketing: What you Need to Know

Both direct mail and email marketing are among the best ways to get directly in front of your audience. Using a combination of both, you can place your ads in people's inboxes both physically and digitally. As a result, you can drastically increase your chances of getting your audience's attention, whether they check their physical mail or email.

If you're not using either direct mail or email to connect with prospects and leads, you're missing out on two invaluable marketing strategies.

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What is Direct Mail Advertising?

Direct mail advertising is a type of marketing that entails sending physical mail pieces to prospects and customers. Your direct mail pieces only need to contain an identifier for your business, call-to-action (CTA), and contact details such as a phone number or a website address to visit. Your direct mail pieces can be as simple or complex as you want them to be, with practically no limits.

For example, you may own a local restaurant and want to attract new patrons. Through direct mail, you might send glossy postcard mail pieces to people in the area, with menu items, an eye-catching graphic, your logo, and a coupon for a percentage off their first order. 

If your audience is localized and more likely to check their physical mail, or if you want to stand out from the many generic emails that people receive every day, direct mail is often sufficient.

What is Email Marketing?

Email marketing uses emails to connect with new and existing customers. You can use email marketing to increase brand awareness, attract more leads, or boost sales. These campaigns can help sell products, send updates and other news to newsletter subscribers, remind people to complete their orders after abandoning their shopping carts, and much more.

One way you could use email marketing is to advertise a new product before and during launch. You can start by building an email list, which you can segment based on whether the recipient is a subscriber to your newsletter, a customer interested in your products, or a past customer who may be willing to make another purchase. You could send emails to prospective customers with details about the product and a related blog post for more information, or you can contact customers who've purchased similar products and encourage them to buy your new product based on their interests.

The Benefits of Each Type of Marketing

There are several direct-mail advertising and email marketing benefits to consider that can help you decide which is right for your campaigns.

Benefits of Direct Mail

Direct mail is a great way to reach out to your audiences if you want to stick out. Many people check their mail every day, and it's less likely to go overlooked compared to email inboxes that get flooded daily. 

Direct mail is ideal for sending promotional offers such as product or service discounts on first-time orders, dine-in sales, etc. They're also less competitive than email, as people receive fewer mail pieces every day compared to the long list of emails they likely encounter. You can also stick out more easily with colorful, eye-catching mail pieces that are better at attracting attention than just another subject line in an email inbox.

You can also use email to encourage people to perform a specific CTA, such as visiting your location or visiting your website.

Benefits of Email Marketing

While direct mail is still useful, email marketing is another effective marketing tool when used correctly. 

Email marketing is cost-effective, for one, as you don't need to pay for physical mail and cover printing costs. Unlike direct mail, you can send emails instantly to provide recipients with recent updates or time-sensitive information very quickly.

Although that text subject line can be limiting, the email's body offers many creative possibilities to engage recipients. You can even make your emails interactive with custom details or buttons that people can click to take them to corresponding webpages beyond the email. Email is also great for directly driving people to your website or social pages to learn more about you, contact your business, or make a purchase.

How These Strategies Can Work Together

If you want to harness the power of both direct mail and email marketing, it's often best to use both in tandem. The different mediums are highly compatible with each other if you want to hybridize your offline and digital marketing efforts. They're often a huge asset when combined: One survey found that 60% of respondents saw a boost in ROI when combining direct mail and digital marketing.

For instance, you could send consistent marketing emails to your audiences. Simultaneously, you could run a direct mail campaign that reaches many of those same audiences. You can then follow up those direct mail campaigns with emails to maximize your chances of being seen. 

If advertising a new store to your audiences, you might send emails to people on your email lists who live in that area. Simultaneously, you can send direct mail pieces advertising that location, encouraging people to visit your store. Another campaign could entail promotional offers, with direct mail containing a promo code, after which you follow up with emails that disclose the same request.

To complement your digital marketing efforts and increase traffic to your website or boost online sales, you can also direct people to your website via direct mail. Using specific landing pages designated for those campaigns, you can then track your direct mail efforts' performance and compare them to your digital campaigns.

Use Both Direct Mail and Email Marketing to Your Advantage

Direct mail and email marketing are both potentially invaluable when adequately implemented and combined. They can be reliable when used separately, but taking full advantage of both when possible will give you the best of both worlds. If you can effectively use these strategies together, you'll be able to maximize your reach and get the best results from your physical and digital advertising efforts.

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Topics: Strategic Planning​ & Research, Email Marketing