Direct Mail vs Email is a False Choice — Why the Two Channels Complement Each Other

Direct mail vs email - the wrong fight

Pitting direct mail vs email is the wrong fight.

Conventional marketing wisdom often causes us to make poor decisions on how we spend our marketing budget. Some conventional wisdom will tell you to keep channels separated to improve your ability to optimize campaigns specifically for that channel. However, as technological advancements have made it easier to create multi-channel campaigns and track consumers throughout their buyer’s journey, a wealth of options have been opened to forward-thinking companies that embrace creative thinking over conventional wisdom in their marketing.

To some, email and direct mail are seen as distinct leaves of the same branch.  They are viewed in a one-or-the-other way that really limits the way that the two channels can be used to complement one another. Direct mail vs email isn’t a one-or-the-other type of thing. The two should work hand-in-hand. 

Get Our Direct Mail & Email Workflows Here

Here at Postalytics, we always try to promote a multi-channel approach. Our product strongly encourages our users to combine digital channels with their direct mail campaigns in order to facilitate a better outcome.

Direct Mail vs Email Response Rates

direct mail vs email response rates

The well documented resurgence of direct mail is largely being driven by the recognition that direct mail, even when created and delivered via old school, offline processes, drives high response rates. Using transactional data from Bizo and Epsilon, the Direct Marketing Association analyzed direct mail vs email statistics. They found that direct mail averaged a 4.4% response rate, compared to email’s average response rate of 0.12%.

However, email rules the roost when it comes to ROI. Because it is so inexpensive to send, marketers can carpet bomb prospects to get them to respond, while not spending much. The DMA found the ROI for email averaged $28.50, while direct mail came in at $7.

 

Direct Mail vs Email Marketing — Similar, but Different Channels

One of the reasons why using direct mail marketing and email marketing in tandem is overlooked is because direct mail and email are often compared to one another. Email is seen as the modern equivalent of direct mail marketing. To include both channels in the same campaign is often viewed as redundant — but those views would be wrong. They are seen as two sides of the same coin when they really be viewed as two separate mediums. Yes, they are channels that allow you to send marketing messages directly to your intended target in a personal way, but they aren’t seen as equivalent in the eyes of consumers.

But that is where the similarities end. Prospects engage differently with email than they do direct mail. It’s always on the go with them. They read it while they are at work or out and about with friends. It doesn’t feel the same to them as opening a piece of direct mail does. It scratches a different itch and for that reason, companies should approach them as complementary, but unrelated channels.

Email Followups To Direct Mail Increase Response Rates

email followup

Source: YesWare

Email makes for the perfect follow up to a direct mail campaign. How many times have you opened a direct mail envelope, been intrigued by an offer, and ultimately forgot about it before accidentally throwing the offer away with other items and forgetting about it completely? It’s a common issue.

Consumers love to receive mail. It’s tangible and its real. But younger demographics — despite the fact that they are excited to receive it — aren’t as likely to take action on an offer that they receive in direct mail as older generations are. It’s still an excellent tool for grabbing their attention, but having a reliable way to send reminders about the offer (or sweeten the pot) through a channel they are more comfortable dealing with can be extremely effective.

If you were to deliver a direct mail piece to a prospect on Monday, following up later in the week with an email reminder can be a great way to pull forgetful parties back into the fold. The email could reference the offer that they received through direct mail and provide a personalized link to a landing page. If the prospect had already visited the pURL that you had included with the piece of direct mail but had failed to convert, this would be a great way to improve your conversion rate.

When you have both the mailing address and email address of your prospects, it would almost be silly not to use email to follow up with them after they receive your direct mail piece. It’s a fast and efficient way to bolster your campaign. A multichannel approach gives prospects more opportunities to interact with your brand and ultimately pushes them through the buyer’s journey more quickly than relying on a single channel for communication and marketing. See “5 New Ways To Use Direct Mail And Email Marketing“.

Customers Prefer a Multi-Channel Approach

multichannel marketing

We really live in a multi-channel marketing world. That alone should put the direct mail vs email debate to rest.

Modern customers like it when brands are able to meet them on the platforms that they already frequent. Email and social media can both be excellent complements to direct mail marketing campaigns for this reason.

In fact, customers actively prefer a multi-channel approach to the marketing communications that they receive from customers. In fact, 72% of consumers state that they prefer to connect with brands through multiple channels before making a purchase.

Not only does a multi-channel approach help you to stay top-of-mind and build brand awareness, but it also allows you to ensure that you reach more people from your list. A certain percentage of the people that you send your mailer to will throw away your direct mail piece without giving it a second look but will take notice when you send them an email because that is their preferred way to connect with brands.

Use pURLs To Measure Response

direct mail vs email - use purls

The Postalytics system leverages pURLs (personalized URLs) as a free option to add in every direct mail template. Our customers use them to make their offers more enticing by including the prospects name in the URL that they are asking them to visit. We use it to track your customers and provide you with analytics for how they engage with the materials that you send them.

For most direct mail campaigns, your main goal is to get your prospects to your website. That goal doesn’t change once they receive your direct mail offering. You still want them to get there, and visiting a website from email is much easier than manually typing in a URL from a postcard. Using email to direct them toward your call to action when they are already familiar with your offer, in an environment where engagement is easier, could play a key role in bolstering your campaigns.

Forget About Direct Mail vs Email. Grow Your Response Rates With Both!

At Postalytics, we are always advising our customers to integrate direct mail and email workflows into a seamless marketing system for their business.

Recently, we launched our “Direct Mail & Email Workflows” resource, which will help you to understand how the two mediums can be used together to bolster your response rates and increase awareness for your offer.

Want to see the proven direct mail AND email workflows that we use to foster double digital response rates for your next campaign?

Get Our Direct Mail & Email Workflows Here