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Direct Mail or Email: Which Marketing Channel Is Right for You?

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Letting go of the past is hard – especially when faced with leaving behind the allure of comfortable methods in exchange for the promise of potential. Sure it sounds a little melodramatic at first glance, but this statement sums up the struggle facing many brands that are still on the fence that stands between direct mail marketing and its modern successor, email marketing. To help you find the channel that’s right for your company moving forward, let’s take a look at both sides of the argument and see what each option has to offer.

The Case for Direct Mail Tactics

Considering that direct mail’s the elder of the two approaches, it seems only fitting to start the discussion with this avenue of interacting with your customers. In his look at the benefits of direct mail marketing, Craig Simpson of Entrepreneur magazine points to a variety attributes that support this process, including a more personalized feel to marketed messages that arrive via standard mail, as well as potentially increased levels of trust and familiarity garnered via this marketing tactic. Additionally, the notion that email inbox overload exists and can inhibit the practicality of email marketing is also used as means of promoting the viability of direct mail marketing.

Standing Behind the Power of Email Marketing

Naturally, we respectfully disagree with Mr. Simpson and the reasoning behind his claims regarding the effectiveness of direct mail marketing – as do other industry thought leaders and prominent voices that understand the true value of email marketing. To help differentiate email marketing and support the notion that this method for reaching out to customers stands above direct mail and other options, let’s turn to Megan Totka of Small Business Trends and her look at some indisputable facts.

First up, Totka notes that 72 percent of adults send and receive emails via smartphone at least weekly, speaking to both the penetration of email acceptance and the fact that on-the-go mobile usage is the biggest thing in the marketing world – and only getting bigger. In fact, 68 percent of consumers name email as the preferred channel for receiving commercial messages.

If that’s not enough, Totka wraps up her research with two astounding facts regarding consumer activity in the inbox. In terms of conversions, 81 percent of online shoppers are more likely to make both digital and in-store purchases due to the impact generated by marketed emails. Finally, about one in five consumers read every email that makes its way into the inbox; primarily due to the desire to receive exclusive offers and content.

Of course, to reach these astounding performance plateaus, you’ll need to be at the top of your game. From streamlining the process via automation, to developing high quality content that responds to mobile platforms, the reality of the situation is that the inbox is a competitive arena, so making the most of your opportunities isn’t only a good idea, it’s essential to the lasting success of your brand in the digital world.

Which One’s Right for Your Brand?

So with all of that being said, it’s time to put the brakes on any other form of advertising and shift your entire budget toward email marketing, right? As great as that sounds to proponents of the email marketing world, the fact of the matter is that at the end of the day, no two audiences are the same, so there is a small chance that some alternative method – like direct mail – ends up as the proper answer.

Despite these unusual outliers, which stand few and far between in the global marketplace, the fact remains that few tools even come close to mirroring the power and reach generated by email marketing in the vast majority of instances. As Armando Roggio of the Practical Ecommerce blog suggests, it doesn’t matter what other strategies you employ – from direct mail marketing to putting up fliers in your local neighborhood – if you’re not trying to connect with these shoppers in the inbox, you’re probably losing out on a major chunk of sales.

In fact, Roggio puts the potential return on investment (ROI) via email marketing at $43 for every dollar spent, according to the Direct Marketing Association’s Statistical Face Book. Needless to say, you’ll be hard pressed to find this kind of ROI from virtually any other form of consumer outreach. At the end of the day, the choice to select one path over the other still rests on your shoulders, but hopefully with this information guiding the way, the discussion that leads to an appropriate marketing channel for your brand becomes a little clearer.

About Victor Green

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