Direct Mail

Direct Mail vs. Email

By 18 March 2024April 15th, 2024No Comments
direct mail vs email

Direct Mail Marketing vs Email Marketing

Modern-day marketing is all about finding and using the best marketing channel that can bring in the maximum number of conversions efficiently and effortlessly. Competition is rising in every industry and companies are doing their best to be seen everywhere and impact customer behavior. Though direct mail marketing has been used for decades and email marketing is relatively new, there have been various direct mail vs email debates.

direct mail vs email

Some businesses have stuck with traditional direct mailing, whereas others have switched to email marketing as it seems to be the modern alternative to direct mail. In this blog, let us find out the pros and cons of both these channels and decide on which one is better.

What Is Direct Mail?

In today’s digital world, we all know what an email is. Hence, before we get into knowing what direct mail marketing vs. email marketing is, we need to understand what direct mail is. Direct mail is a marketing form that was introduced in the 19th century. It refers to printing and mailing out items like postcards and letters to a relevant audience. Companies can target their prospects and customers directly without any intermediaries. Since the mail is delivered directly to the intended recipient’s physical mailboxes, there are more chances of the mail being seen and read.

All companies in all industries can use direct mail. It usually consists of some appealing graphics with personalized texts, an offer, and a CTA. These things help grab their audience’s attention and induce them to either enquire or buy from the company. Unlike the olden days, direct mail is now affordable, and the results can be tracked easily. Moreover, people like getting mail. 54% of people have stated that they like getting mail from the brands they are interested in.

Why Do People Compare Direct Mail With Email?

Why is everyone talking about email marketing vs. direct mail? Two things are compared only when they belong to the same industry and have their own similarities, which is true with direct mail and email. Both of them are marketing channels and are known to boost engagements, drive conversions, and increase brand awareness.

Around 270 billion emails are sent every day globally, which is why more and more marketers think of email as a more popular and productive marketing channel. However, many marketers argue that direct mail marketing is known as more reliable and trustworthy. In this scenario, it should also be noted that customers approach email and direct mail differently. Opening a direct mail doesn’t feel like clicking on an email and vice versa.

Today, 57% of people who have abandoned their email addresses state that email-spamming is the reason for doing so. Therefore, the future of email marketing can be seriously doubted. On the other hand, direct mail is growing each day as companies understand the importance of this offline marketing mode. Let us now discuss the pros and cons of email and direct marketing.

Pros and Cons of Direct Mail


  1. Direct mail can be highly personalized. It is no longer dull and boring. Nowadays, you can print unique QR codes that take your customers to a personalized landing page. You can even include offers that are unique for every prospect.
  2. Direct mail can help form an emotional connection with the audience. It is appreciated by people, and they are likely to talk about it with their family and friends.
  3. Direct mail is useful in driving online traffic. Companies can increase engagements on their social media handles, get people to visit their website and download their app, and also drive online purchases through direct mail. 87% of people who receive direct mail are influenced to buy something from that brand’s online store. Furthermore, 54% of people engage with the company’s social media after receiving direct mail from them.


  1. Designing complexity can be a disadvantage for direct mail marketers. Designing for printable items is an extensive process, and you need to consider physical materials like paper and ink.
  2. Many people are reluctant to furnish their addresses, which makes data collection difficult for conducting direct mail marketing. When we talk about collecting data for email vs. direct mail marketing, it is much easier to collect email addresses. Although, print and mail solutions like PostGrid can help marketers build mailing lists containing verified addresses.
  3. Direct mail can be expensive, depending on your campaign size. It also depends on the type of materials you are using. For example, glossy paper is always more expensive than matte paper. Moreover, postal rates have increased a lot in recent years. But, it is again important to consider that PostGrid’s automated direct mail API can help bring down costs and improve efficiency.

Also Read: Best Direct Mail Services

Pros and Cons of Email


  • Email is inexpensive. The cost of creating and conducting email marketing campaigns is quite low. The overall process is also easy and quick. If marketers focus on email personalization, the response rates and ROI can increase significantly.
  • The performance of email campaigns can be measured easily. From open rates to click-through rates, the data can be availed and analyzed without any hassles.
  • Email offers instant delivery. It is one of the prime reasons why direct mail vs. email statistics are studied, and discussions are held. Emails can be sent and viewed in just a couple of seconds with a few clicks.
  • Credibility: A professional email signature with relevant information, such as job title, company name, and website, contributes to your credibility and trustworthiness.


  • Emails are spamming inboxes, and people are getting tired of checking them. Most of these emails are deleted straight away without being open or read. Oftentimes, emails end up in the spam folder and are never even noticed. Even if a person opens an email, it is either on their way to a meeting or while hanging out with friends. Hence, the lifespan of emails is very short.
  • Building an email list takes time and effort. You can’t just purchase a cheap mailing list and expect good results. Email lists are built over time by using the data collected from online surveys, customer reviews, sign-ups, opt-ins, offline forms, and more.
  • Email is limiting. Along with space and size restrictions, there is also a limit on the creativity level. Furthermore, most of the images used don’t show up when your recipients open the email. It is either blank or replaced by small logos. Therefore, there are many technical issues related to email marketing.

Direct Mail Vs. Email Statistics

Direct mail vs. email statistics plays an important role in deciding which marketing channel performs better. Moreover, these numbers also state the difference between their performances in different ways. Let us get to it.

  • After planning a thoughtful campaign, it is obvious that marketers expect their mailers to have a long life. It is expected that the recipients open them, read them, and save them for a while. However, the average lifespan of an email is just 2 seconds as compared to direct mail that stays with the recipients for 17 days.
  • Email and direct marketing both have the flexibility to include a CTA. But, it has been recorded that 79% of consumers take immediate action on receiving a direct mail, whereas only 45% of consumers take immediate action on getting an email message.
  • The average response rate of direct mail is 4.4% against a 0.12% response rate of email.
  • Direct mail generates about 34% of customers, whereas email generates only 24% of customers.
  • 45% of email users have ghost email accounts that are no longer used by them. Fortunately, you can get your mailing addresses verified against the NCOA and check for addresses that are non-occupied. Therefore, you might send emails to a ghost email account, but you will never send a direct mailer to an empty address.
  • The open rate of direct mail is 90% as compared to email, whose open rate is only 20 to 30%.
  • Only 44% of people recall brands after seeing digital ads such as emails. On the other hand, 75% of direct mail recipients can recall brands.
  • 30% of millennials said that direct mail is more effective to get them to take action, whereas 24% of millennials said email induces them to take action.
  • Direct mail cost-per-acquisition amounts to $43.90 as compared to $22.52, which is the email cost-per-acquisition.
  • Direct mail demands 21% lesser cognitive effort when compared to email.

Also Read: Direct Marketing Vs Online Digital Marketing: What Works the Best?

10 Reasons Why Direct Mail Marketing Is More Effective Than Email Marketing

Some modern marketers say that spending on direct mail is worthless because the same information can be delivered through channels that people use the most, like email. However, as we saw above, email marketing vs. direct mail stats say differently. Besides being the best channel to communicate offers and drive actions, direct mail marketing has several advantages over email marketing.

Direct Mail Can Never Get Trapped by Spam Filters

Unlike emails, direct mail will never end up in your recipient’s spam folder. Nor is it directed to “promotions” or “updates” folders from where they are likely to be deleted by the users. It means that you can be sure that your direct mail will be received by the intended recipients. You can also use print and mail solutions like PostGrid that validate all the mailing addresses, so you can be assured that the mail is being sent to legitimate and real addresses. Emails are often bounced or are never opened.

Items sent as direct mail receive more attention from people and can induce them to respond. On the other hand, you can never induce people even to open your emails.

It Stays With the Recipients for a Longer Period

Direct mail stays in households and offices for a long period of time. Being a tangible object that can be seen and felt, direct mail is shared among various people. Additionally, if you send an eye-catching postcard, your recipients might just pin it on their boards. This way, you can get maximum exposure, and your brand is going to linger around in the minds of people for quite some time. Even if prospects don’t take immediate action, the mailer can convince them to do so over some time.

Emails can never beat the attention and time given to direct mail. After all, it is just an ad that can be seen over a screen. Furthermore, users need to be logged in to their email accounts to receive emails.

Direct Mail Can Still Be Effective if the Recipient Has Switched Jobs

Direct mail is widely used for account-based marketing. Today, B2B direct mail is used by almost all B2B marketers for strengthening client relationships and increasing conversions. In case you are using email marketing, you might know that email addresses change faster than mailing addresses. If a person switches jobs, his old official email address becomes invalid, and you now have one invalid entry in your data. Hence, your emails bounce more often. But, you don’t have to face any such issues while using direct mail. Even if a new person is working in place of an old executive, you can still use the same mailing addresses and get in touch with them.

You Don’t Have to Fight for Attention

Apparently, direct mail is less common and does not have to compete with hundreds of mail items. But, emails have to fight for attention. Since so many marketers are using emails for official, non-official, marketing, compliance, and transactional communications, they are difficult to distinguish. Therefore, most people tend to ignore marketing emails. In the case of direct mail, you get the undivided attention of your customers and prospects. There is no competition and no fight for attention. Direct mail is perhaps the most effective way to connect with your audience personally and directly.

Direct Mail Has No Opt-in Requirements

We all know that a person can subscribe and unsubscribe from emails. If a person clicks on the unsubscribe link, there is no way you can continue sending them marketing emails. Doing so would damage your brand image noticeably. Moreover, unsubscribers can lead to data shrinkage. Therefore, marketers would be left with only a few email addresses to target.

Coming to direct mail, there are no opt-ins or subscriptions required. Similarly, people cannot opt out of direct mail marketing. So, you have the freedom and flexibility to design, print, and mail to anybody at any time.

Direct Mail Is Better for Trust-Building

When people discuss email vs. direct mail marketing, there are a lot of factors to be considered. Trust-building, personal bonds, brand reputation, and reliability are some intangible things that can be earned through direct mail. These things are very valuable for every company as they decide their long-term success. Marketers can never win over these things by sending emails. It doesn’t matter how creative your email is or what you are offering via emails. They can never be as personal as direct mail.

Direct Mail Is Romanticized

Direct mail is cherished and romanticized in our generation. It is because it creates a nostalgic feeling among people and reminds them of the old times. A few decades ago, there was no internet or email. Direct mail was the prime marketing channel back then, and it is not wrong to say that people still love receiving mail. Emails are relatively modern, new, and quick. Therefore, they are not as celebrated as direct mail.

It Is Suitable for All Age Groups

Emails can be viewed only by people who have an internet connection and a valid email address. But, 33% of senior citizens do not have an internet connection, nor do they use email. So how do email marketers target senior citizens? The answer is, that they don’t. They only target youngsters and millennials who have active email addresses. Hence, you can see that email marketing is dependent on many things.

Senior citizens impact decision-making in households to a great extent, and not targeting them reflects a mediocre marketing strategy. Direct mail is suitable for all age groups, and you can target anyone through it. There are no internet connection or email address requirements whatsoever.

It Is Memorable

Undoubtedly, direct mail marketing is more memorable and valuable than email. An email can be seen and still be forgotten easily. Direct mail is better at grabbing attention and keeping the audience hooked. Earlier, while discussing statistics regarding direct mail vs. email, we saw that brand recall was higher by direct mail recipients as compared to email recipients. Digital advertisements like emails cross our eyes every second at lightning speed, but direct mail stands out and is remembered.

Direct Mail Helps Reach Decision-Makers

With emails, there is not much scope for creativity and uniqueness. All you can do is add a catchy subject line in the hope that it can get your email some attention. Even after that, your emails might never get opened. Talking about direct mail, there are a lot of options. You can use customized envelopes or glossy finishing for your postcards to make them appealing. These things make your mailers unique and more likely to reach the hands of decision-makers. They indeed cost more, but the results are worth it.

How Can Direct Mail and Email Work Together?

Is direct mail marketing vs. email marketing a logical debate? Yes, but can they go hand-in-hand and produce better results? Also yes. As discussed earlier, both these marketing channels have their own pluses and minuses. Thus, it is easy to compare and think that either one can get the work done. But, in reality, there are various touchpoints before you can finally get your customer to respond. Follow-ups and consistency are the main keys to conversion.

Using multiple marketing channels, you can target a wider audience and be seen in more places. Additionally, you can also improve your brand reputation and increase your online presence. Below are the top 2 ways in which you can use email and direct marketing together.

Send Direct Mail to Email Non-Responders

How many times have you conducted email campaigns and got no or very few replies? It is certain that it has happened more than once, and it is high time to do something about it. The best way to get your email non-responders to respond is by connecting with them through a different channel like direct mail. By sending direct mail pieces to these people, you can represent your brand as more real and trustworthy. It is highly possible that non-responders start replying to your emails after receiving a thoughtful, direct mail piece.

Use Email to Follow-up With Direct Mail Recipients

It is not uncommon that recipients are completely hooked after getting your direct mailer but forget to complete the CTA. Even if the offer is intriguing, many people might not respond immediately. If not reminded, they might never respond at all. Hence, follow-ups are a must. Emails can be used for follow-ups on a regular basis. An interesting direct mail followed by a similar-looking email can really catch people’s eyes and induce them to take action. You can also include the same pURLs and discount codes on your email and direct mail to persuade your prospects.

Direct mail and email marketing can be used in collaboration for announcing giveaways, promoting events, launching new products, giving discounts, and creating general brand awareness.

Also Read: EDDM vs Direct Mail

The Final Verdict

A multi-channel approach towards marketing gives your audience more ways to get in touch with you. In case somebody has abandoned their email address, they can get in touch with you after receiving a direct mailer. Similarly, if somebody ignores direct mail, they are likely to reply to your email as it is their preferred communication channel. Therefore, using direct mail and email together can be an excellent strategy to get in touch with a wider audience and increase your outreach.

Instead of relying on just one marketing channel and waiting for the results, it is recommended that all the channels are put to work. It is clear that direct mail is far from being dead, but it can also not be forgotten that today emails are used by everyone popularly. Thus, the only smart and effective option is to combine direct mail and email to create a multi-channel marketing campaign that is much better and more productive. It can help you push prospects forward in the buyer’s journey and stay top-of-mind.

Use PostGrid’s print and mail API to integrate with your CRM and create well-designed direct mail campaigns effortlessly.

Related blog: A Guide to Choose the Best Direct Mail Company

Ready to Get Started?

Start transforming and automating your offline communications with PostGrid