Direct Mail vs Email Marketing Campaigns

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few months, you’ll have known that Conor McGregor (fighty chap) was due to face off against Floyd Mayweather (boxy chap) in the boxing ring. With each earning hundreds of millions of dollars for ducking, weaving and (hopefully) landing the odd punch or two.

With so much hype in the ether, we at Birch HQ started thinking about our favourite way to execute campaigns that help to grow our clients’ businesses and portray their brand at their strongest.

Would we lean towards direct mail campaign – tried, tested and proven? Or email marketing campaigns – quick to setup, a dream to manage and track results?

Read on as each takes to their own corner, limber up and pull on their gloves.

Direct Mail Out For The Count?

So, direct mail. Surely, the days where printed mail advertising was a useful, profitable channel has long gone? Surely the digital tools that are cheaper, easy to access and use have hammered direct mail into oblivion?


Direct mail is still live and kicking and is still a proven profitable channel (given it’s executed in the right way).

Although email marketing campaigns can be setup and set faster and at less cost, it’s widely accepted that we now get too much email – especially from people we don’t know. In fact, according to GLW Media, the average lifespan of an email is just 2 seconds!

Think about that for a moment – you create a core message that is crafted to your audience. You’ve got a lovely design to the email. The image and call to action is on point. Then in less time than it takes to sneeze and wipe your nose the image has been deleted from the users’ inbox!

What a wasted effort!

Because of the sheer volume of email – and how it is perceived by many, it’s value in terms of standing out has lessened. Meaning it has left a gap that direct mail can now fill.

To contrast the email lifespan, let’s consider the average lifespan of a piece of direct mail… 17 days! So, theoretically, you could send your campaign, then hop on a plane to somewhere nice (say, Santorini) for 2 weeks. Drink your fill of cocktails and read on the beach for a full fortnight. Return back to work and your piece of direct mail would still be on your prospect’s desk!

Think about that in terms of following up campaigns and your sales cadence – do you want to be following up on an asset that was deleted immediately, or on an asset that has a healthy lifespan? Which is more memorable?

Email Marketing Is Precise

However, even in light of those stats – email marketing isn’t all bad. In fact, far from it. One thing that is central to the success of any marketing campaign is your ability to measure and analyse data. Using inexpensive email marketing tools, such as Mailchimp, you get incredible insights into your campaign – giving you the information you need to help you make better decisions going forward.

Direct mail – although measuring is possible – can’t be done to the same level of detail. Whereas you can look at response rates – understanding engagement levels, offline to online etc. is a challenge.

Citipost Mail say that 82% of B2B and B2C companies utilise email marketing – but only 50% of companies use direct mail.

This is interesting because it shows that a lot of businesses still don’t see the value in direct mail. Therefore are missing out on growth opportunities by not venturing past email marketing.

Next, let’s look at some financial data…

Crunching Numbers

ROI, is of course, the cornerstone of success when it comes to either direct mail or email marketing campaigns. So, is there a clear winner in this respect?

On average, for each £1 you spend in email marketing, you’re likely to make £38 in return. While in direct mail an average of £1 spend is likely to return £7.

So that’s looks pretty cut and dry, right? Not quite because in terms of customer acquisition it actually costs less to acquire a customer via direct mail than via email marketing. Also, the difference in ROI is in a large part down to there being lower costs involved with email marketing campaigns, rather than an intrinsic advantage to that channel.

Is There A Clear Victor?

After such a battle royale, who is the winner? Well – as the above shows, it isn’t as easy to say that one way is necessarily better than another. Both have their pros and cons and also each channel will be more conducive to a certain product, demographic and stage in customer journey.

Finally, it is very wise to consider mixed media campaigns. The good old Royal Mail did some research that showed that consumers want to choose how to digest their media based on where they are and what they are doing.

Taking this point and adding the fact that United Mail discovered that people, on average, spent 25% more with companies who used mixed media campaigns (linked to the fact that prospects are up to 20% more likely to convert with direct mail) and you could have a winning combination.

While today’s fearless competitors are getting towelled down and seeing a physio, take some time to consider your goals, your audience and what you want to achieve from your next campaign.

As ever, if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with us or send us a tweet @birchprint

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