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Why Direct Mail is Superior to Email

If you want to spark a lively debate between marketing professionals, just ask them for their opinion on which is better: email or direct mail. Chances are you’ll hear the pros and cons of both – but never get a real answer to the question.

While email has direct mail beat in the cost arena, direct mail holds multiple distinct advantages over email that makes it an intelligent choice for any marketing campaign. With ad blindness and email open rates at an all-time low, direct mail is experiencing a huge resurgence amongst professional marketers.

It’s like the 1980’s all over again, but this time around direct mail has some pretty cool technological features that weren’t possible just 30 short years ago such as digital and variable data printing.

Here are 5 reasons why a properly executed direct mail campaign will blow an email marketing campaign out of the water:

1. Longer shelf life

Direct mail tends to stick around much longer than email does. Much longer. The average lifespan of an email is around 2 seconds. This means you have exactly 2 seconds to not only capture the person’s attention but differentiate yourself from the tens of thousands of similar emails they’ve seen before.

Email open rates (especially in cold email campaigns) are atrocious. In some circles, a 1% email open rate is considered amazing.

If you’re like most people, you probably have a pile of direct mail that sits around on your countertop. Coupons for local pizza, a 10% off postcard from the local dentist, or even a free oil change card will sit for months on end – because you never know when you might need emergency services from the local dentist or are too tired to cook dinner and a $5 pizza delivered to your front door sounds great right about now.

2. Trust

The ability to quickly establish trust is worth its weight in gold in marketing. If your potential prospects don’t feel that even the slightest thing is “off”, your entire marketing campaign could fall flat on its face.

56% of consumers believe that direct mail is more trustworthy than email.  It makes sense considering anyone can send an email for free. The odds of an untrustworthy person going through the trouble of having a mailer printed up, a website created, and customer service ready to answer the phones are slim to none. The same can’t be said for a cold email that lands in your inbox.

3. Higher response rates

A recent consumer survey found that 79% of respondents acted almost immediately on direct mail received from brands. 44% of those people visited the website of the brand and 34% searched online for more information about the brand and their products.

Email marketing cannot replicate these kinds of numbers because most people don’t even open the email in the first place. They look at the subject line and if it doesn’t pique their interest, they hit the “delete” button almost immediately. Even if they’ve given their email address to a trusted brand, attention spans can be fickle and if they’re not in a good mood and a marketing email comes in, they might take out their frustrations by hitting the “Unsubscribe” or “Spam” button.

4. No opt-in required

You’re not required by law to get someone to opt-in to your direct mail list. With email, you’re not only required to get your target to opt-in, but if you email people in countries such as Canada and the UK, you need to be aware of the various email laws that specifically apply to those countries. The risk of getting fined for not following email laws far outweighs the potential for massive outreach.

5. Direct mail will get delivered

Email spam servers have evolved to the point where they can completely prevent your emails from being sent or received. Even if you follow the highly technical email protocols (including having your SPF filters set properly), there’s still a good chance your email could be blacklisted by SpamHaus – which means your email will get blacklisted across the entire internet – nothing will get sent or delivered if you make the SpamHaus list.

With direct mail, as long as there’s valid postage on the mailer, it will get delivered. As the old Post Office saying goes:

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Direct Mail Services in Raleigh

If you’re tired of having your email campaigns fall flat, maybe it’s time to look into direct mail. The ROI of a professionally executed direct mail campaign will far outweigh the initial costs. 

We specialize in custom direct mail services in Raleigh, NC. To learn more about how AlphaGraphics of Downtown Raleigh can produce and design your next project, you may email us, request a quote or call us at (919) 832-2828.

Mike Linden

Posted by Mike Linden

Mike Linden is the Vice President of Operations at AlphaGraphics of Downtown Raleigh. He focuses on client relationships, daily operations, business development and digital marketing initiatives. Mike joined the firm in 2008.

Mike is a graduate of the University of North Carolina where he earned a degree in Economics.