Why Direct Mail is More Efficient Than Email

30 June 2020 / By Mike Gunderson
Why Direct Mail is More Efficient Than Email on gundersondirect.com
Reading time: 4 minutes

Direct mail and email marketing are two of the most-used methods of direct marketing. Each has its pros and cons, but which is the most cost- and time-efficient means of building your revenue and brand?

For a marketer, coming up with the most practical method of influencing an audience is essential. Efficiency takes both time and cost into account, and the marketing method that looks least expensive in the short term is not always the best when it comes to driving response, conversions and ROI.

When comparing email and direct mail, there are a few aspects to consider. First, email will always look less expensive because there isn’t a physical marketing piece to deliver. However, direct mail is often the better option for getting a response, making a positive brand impression and developing a customer relationship.

ROI and the cost of acquisition

The numbers shake out interestingly when comparing direct mail and email, primarily because of the discrepancy between the initial cost of each marketing method.

Sending an email requires upfront costs in terms of the mailing platform and list management (even MailChimp isn’t free for a company that does any significant email marketing), as well as campaign design. Those costs do tally less than the printing and postage costs of a direct mail campaign to the same audience, but only because the message is virtual and does not have a physical presence in your prospects’ hands or homes.

Direct mail has a cost attached to every piece that reaches a recipient, but the impression it makes is commensurate with that investment and the return — in both revenue and brand-building — it generates.

While on a balance sheet, email may cost less up-front to generate immediate ROI, brands often have to send millions of emails to get the same response as a few hundred thousand direct mail pieces, and those mail pieces continue to drive response long after the email has been deleted or marked as spam.

For a busy, cash-accountable marketer, that can be the difference between campaign success and failure.

Reaching the customer

One problem with email marketing is that the average office worker receives 121 emails per day, reports CityAM magazine, and Statista estimates that 306 billion emails will be sent in 2020. Many inboxes are overwhelmed with emails to the point that their users won’t bother reading them.

At the same time, according to the United States Postal Service, the average household receives 11.7 pieces of mail per week, slightly over two letters per day. That means your direct mail sees far less competition for attention than any email you send.

The numbers support direct mail as a more efficient method of reaching consumers. Canada Post reports that 75% of customers can recall interacting with a brand after receiving a piece of direct mail compared to 44% of consumers who see a digital ad.

One reason for direct mail’s lasting impression could be the shelf life associated with each form of advertising.

The average lifespan of a direct mail advertisement is 17 days, according to information published by RetailWire magazine. Your mailer will often be kept in the house for quite a while before the homeowner decides to respond or throw it away.

Email, on the other hand, has a lifespan of about two seconds. Readers decide right away whether to act on it — in fact, sometimes they decide before even seeing it, as many emails are handled by auto-sorting or spam rules. If the user doesn’t open the email right away, there’s a good chance it will be ignored or deleted.

Using both tools

The good news is that you don’t have to choose between direct mail and email because the two forms of advertising can work together.

Although it’s overused, email does have advantages that earn it a role in any multichannel marketing campaign. It’s a great way to tell recipients to look for mail you’re sending them, for example, or to remind them that a deal is about to expire.

By using direct mail as your campaign’s centerpiece and supporting it with strategic email, you can tap into the customer acquisition power of direct mail and the convenience of email to maximize your marketing dollars.Gunderson Direct is a full-service direct mail agency with over 16 years of industry experience. Our team will not only help you come up with a direct mail plan but will analyze the results to ensure you’re getting efficient results throughout your campaign. Stop by our contact page to discuss your direct mail marketing plan.

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About The Author

Mike Gunderson

Mike Gunderson is the founder of Gunderson Direct, Inc., a direct marketing agency that helps businesses drive new leads and close more sales through traditional offline channels, especially direct mail.

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