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To Email Market or Direct Mail Market? That is the Question

What is the most effective method of marketing - direct mail or email? Many people don't open their emails; on the other hand, many people give physical postcards only a cursory glance before tossing them into the trash. Working out which method to use requires careful analysis of the return of investment each option can provide.

Email Vs Direct Mail Marketing

A Harvard Business Review study compared the effectiveness of email and direct mail marketing in 2012. In this study, direct mail was very slightly more effective than email, with response rates of 24 percent and 23 percent respectively. The average order value resulting from direct mail marketing was also slightly higher, at $68.62 compared to $67.82 for email marketing.

Return on Investment

Although direct mail marketing has a slightly higher response rate, it is also much more expensive to run this kind of campaign. The Harvard Business Review study declared that direct mail costs roughly 100 times more per piece of marketing content than email. In an investigation into the return of investment of each method, the inbound marketing blog HubSpot used the Harvard Business Review Data to show that email marketing is massively more cost-effective than direct mail marketing. Whereas direct mail gives a return on investment of $27 in revenue for each dollar spent, email delivered an incredible $2,600.

Does the Type of Business Matter?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, direct mail marketing is more likely to result in sales in store, whereas email marketing is more effective at persuading customers to buy online. When considering which marketing method to use, you need to consider what type of sales you want to make. For example, if you don't have an online store, then direct mail marketing could be the most cost-effective method for you, as coupons sent out by mail are much more convenient than email coupons that customers have to print out themselves.

How to Effectively Use Email Marketing

The data shows that, in most cases, email marketing gives a better return on investment than direct mail marketing. Email marketing is inexpensive, which makes it an ideal method for businesses with tight marketing budgets. In order to get the most out of your email marketing efforts, you need to pay careful attention to how, when and why you send your emails. Your customers are busy people, so keep your email messages short and to the point. If you are offering a special deal or discount, make it obvious in the subject line so customers are more likely to open and read the email. According to data from Smart Insights, emails sent on a Tuesday or a Friday are most likely to be opened, but the ideal day of the week for email marketing depends on your business. For example, if you are promoting a weekend sale at a local store, then letting people know on Friday could result in customers dropping in to take a look the next day.

Data is King

Whatever type of marketing you decide to use, you need to constantly assess whether it is providing useful returns. Try out different marketing methods and keep track of the number of sales that result from your efforts to decide which campaigns to continue. By focusing on the data in this way, you can make sure that your marketing budget is put to good use.