Email vs. Direct Mail Marketing_ Is There a Clear Winner_ - Pel Hughes print marketing new orleans

Ever since the introduction of email to mass consumers, there has been a debate as to whether email is a more effective marketing tool. As the convenience and speed of email pressed on, most people anticipated the eventual demise of physical, direct mail marketing campaigns. However, this hasn’t proven to be the case.

The most successful marketers in today’s world understand the difference between the two mediums, and how to leverage both to reach the most amount of consumers in the most effective way. This article explores the differences between email marketing and direct mail marketing, and some of the strengths and weaknesses of them both.


Options for Each Medium

As far as options go, direct mail may seem fairly simple and straightforward. You create a letter, magazine, catalog, etc., affix appropriate postage, and send it to consumers. This can often be time-consuming and become expensive, however.

In today’s market there are many options that allow companies to overcome this hurdle maximize efficiency with direct mail campaigns. For example, by searching “city name + direct marketing” in Google, you can find direct marketing services in your region. These services can help you print, design and send your ad to your consumers.

Email is a bit different. Email marketing software such as MailChimp or iContact can help you manage your subscriber list and send your campaigns. Additionally, emails services allow you to create “opt-in” boxes on your website that allow consumers to sign up for your email communications. These opt-in forms can be especially effective when placed on landing pages with a single marketing goal in mind.



When it comes to receptiveness by consumers, you may be surprised. According to a recent study by Salesforce, 44% of email recipients have made a purchase in the past year based on a promotional email. Moreover, 64% of recipients open email based on the subject line alone, and 7 in 10 people used a coupon of discount from a marketing email. This isn’t the surprising part.

What is surprising is that 56% of consumers find direct mail marketing to be the most trustworthy form of marketing. Not only that, 70% of Americans say direct mail is more personal than the internet, and 84% have purchased an item after seeing it in a direct mail catalog. For an “old” and “outdated” form of communication, these are pretty good numbers for marketing teams that use direct mail for their campaigns to see.


Interactivity & Tracking

It seems pretty obvious that email is interactive. Through an email message you can link directly to your company’s webpage, embed videos and audio, and even add links to external sources that consumers will find valuable. What’s great about all of this is that all of the information and data related to email interaction can be tracked and recorded to see what works and what doesn’t. Winner: email. Right? Not so fast.

Most people are not aware that you can also track data with direct mail marketing. By using personal URLs or QR codes, you can actually obtain the same tracking abilities as seen in email messages. With variable data capabilities, you can print unique QR codes or URLs on each mail piece. When the consumer scans the code or visits the site, it’s like they clicked on a link online.  



Targeted mail lists allow you to purchase already-specified lists, then target your marketing campaign to consumers listed on that specific list. While targeted mail marketing is available for both direct mail and email, the mailing lists for direct mail have had much more time to become more refined. However, email lists will eventually evolve and catchup in the near future.

One of the large differences between direct mail and email in this capacity is the number of addresses per customer. Most consumer will only have one mailing address, but it is very common for a single person to have multiple emails addresses. In fact, many people have separate email accounts they use merely to sign up for things to avoid spam.


In the end, there are many benefits to both direct mail and email marketing. Utilizing the strengths of both types of communication will undoubtedly work to your businesses advantage. The best marketing practice is not to look at these mediums as competitors or counterparts, but understand the differences between the two, and play to the strengths of each.