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Digital Marketing vs. Direct Mail: Which Gets Better Results

Digital Marketing vs. Direct MailIf you're trying to decide on the right marketing strategy for your business, both direct mail and digital marketing have their advantages. However, you might be uncertain about which campaign is right for your business. In most cases, digital marketing offers more benefits than direct mail, but both can be effective when used as part of an integrated marketing approach.

If you're debating whether to use digital marketing vs. direct mail, consider the following pros and cons. 

Direct Mail

Direct mail campaigns allow you to connect with your audience, and businesses today still use direct mail for various reasons. If you're thinking about using direct mail for your marketing, here are some advantages and disadvantages to consider. 

Achieves High Response Rate

One key benefit of direct mail is its ability to drive a high response rate. The average response rate of direct mail campaigns is around 9% for house lists and 4.9% for prospect lists, with numbers increasing from year to year. People like physical mail pieces that feel personal and stay in their minds, which encourages them to respond more readily than emails in many instances.

Elicits Brand Recall

Direct mail can also improve brand recall due to its ability to be easily understood and remembered. One key reason for this is that direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to mentally process. This is why direct mail is often ideal to use for brand awareness campaigns. If you want people to remember you, a physical and personalized direct mail piece that speaks to your audience can help keep you top-of-mind.

Higher Chance of Getting Tossed Out

Although direct mail can help inspire people to respond to your brand, it also has a higher chance of being discarded than other marketing materials. Even though people might be more likely to see your mail piece if it stands out, it's also likely to wind up in a pile mixed with junk mail. 

Direct Mail Works Better When Combined with Digital

Direct mail on its own can be useful, but the fact is that it works better when combined with digital. Integrated digital marketing and direct mail campaigns produce a 60% lift in ROI. There are several ways you can use both to drive optimal results from your marketing efforts.

For example, you could send mail pieces to audiences within a specific geographical location, while emails reach those who aren't as close with a similar message and content. You can also integrate direct mail with other digital marketing components such as your website by including a URL for people to visit in your mail pieces. It's even possible to use a custom link specifically for direct mail pieces to help you digitally track the results of your campaign.

Digital Marketing

While direct mail can be a valuable asset to your marketing efforts, digital marketing offers certain benefits that you can't get with physical mail campaigns.

Produces a Higher ROI

Email marketing can be extremely profitable compared to direct mail, with an average ROI of $38 for every dollar spent. If you want to get the most from your available marketing budget, the ROI of email and other digital efforts makes them potentially more worthwhile than direct mail.

Yields Faster Results

Unlike physical mail pieces, emails get to your audiences instantaneously. All you need to do is create the content and compile a list of recipients, and you can send your mail pieces simultaneously to as many as thousands of people in any location. Subsequently, prospects will be able to see your emails as soon as they're sent and respond more quickly. 

Costs Less Than Direct Mail

With physical direct mail pieces, the costs can be considerably higher than what you would spend on email campaigns. In addition to creating content, you also need to spend money on printing and mailing your pieces, while emails don't cost anything to send. If you want to save on costs and optimize your marketing budget, email campaigns can help.

Targets Customers More Effectively

The targeting capabilities of digital marketing outweigh those of direct mail. You can target people based on a wide variety of traits, including the point at which they first encounter your brand. You can also email people at the ideal time they're likely to check their inboxes. Additionally, you can customize content based on where people are in the buyer's journey, from the awareness stage to the consideration stage.

Easier to Share with Others

People aren't likely to share physical mail pieces with the people they know, especially outside the household. On the other hand, if people receive an email they like and think might appeal to people on their contact list, they can easily forward it to them with a few simple clicks. 

Considering the capabilities of both direct mail and digital marketing, you can get the best of both worlds when you combine the two in an integrated marketing campaign. To help you develop a winning marketing strategy that effectively uses both channels, consider working with a media partner who can guide you through the process.

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Peter Hottenstein
Peter Hottenstein
Peter’s depth of experience in the digital media space spans two decades. His love of data and knowledge of analytics allows Peter to develop solution-based campaigns and optimize them along the way.

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