The debate about online marketing versus traditional marketing has been going on for over a decade now. One of the key areas of debate is about whether direct mail is worthwhile in light of modern email marketing. The answer depends on many factors including the type of business and the way products are sold. Anyone who is comparing direct mail and email as marketing tools should understand the strengths and weaknesses of each option.
Direct mail marketing has the potential to reach more consumers than email campaigns. Emails need to clear several hurdles in order to be seen by customers. Spam filters remove many emails before they are ever seen. Consumers are quicker to simply delete emails without ever opening the message. Direct mail will be seen by more recipients. It can also reach consumers who do not use email.
Cost and Return on Investment
The digital nature of email marketing makes it a less expensive option than direct mail. Emails can be sent to thousands of consumers for far less than it would cost to print, mail and potentially warehouse catalogs or other mailers. The lower initial cost often gives email an edge when it comes to measuring return on investment. This is not always the case, however, since many direct mail options garner higher conversions over time and larger average order totals.
Consumers today clearly prefer direct mail marketing to promotional emails. This is because there is less of a stigma attached to receiving marketing materials in a physical mailbox. Email accounts are still seen as something private. Marketing emails are perceived as an invasion of this privacy. This consumer preference makes direct mail something all businesses should include in marketing strategies.
Email marketing will always be faster than direct mail. Emails will reach customers within minutes or hours after the campaign is launched. It could take days or weeks for direct mail to reach consumers. This can cause problems when attempting to forecast inventory levels or workforce needs.
Something that works in favor of direct mail solutions is that fewer companies are sending mailers or catalogs. This means businesses that do use direct mail will likely be differentiated from the competition by consumers. This can help to open up new market segments that competitors miss by using only email.
Combining Both Strategies
Businesses today need to combine both strategies in order to be effective. Direct mail solutions are effective and fill many of the holes left behind by email campaigns. Direct mail and email actually work well together and can complement other traditional and online strategies. Business owners should not stop using direct mail.