How Do I Choose Between Email and Direct Mail Marketing?

Email and direct mail marketing have shared a somewhat similar evolution in the last 10 to 15 years. Both were once thought dead, but they have been revived thanks to increased targeting precision that comes with databases and analytics.

The key to effectiveness with either of these approaches is to implement them in the right situations. Following is a look at their respective pros and cons and benefits of each.

Email Marketing

Pros: A low cost and typically high return on investment are financial advantages of email marketing. There are no print production or mailing costs. However, you can improve your email marketing performance by investing in high-quality graphic design for email messages. The ability to develop and deliver your message quickly is another positive. Email messages seem most effective in B2B sectors, as busy buyers tend to pay attention to communication that aligns with areas of need and perform research online.

Tracking capabilities are relatively strong for both marketing formats, but especially so for emails. You can track open rates, clicks, bounce rates and other data in real-time for each message you send. Email allows for easy social media integration as well.

Cons: Typical contacts receive tens or even hundreds of mail messages per day. Thus, the average bulk email campaign generates a low response rate and a lot of deletions. Because of this, targeted messages that are relevant to readers are critical. Mass or bulk email approaches can also denigrate the value of your brand.

Direct Mail Marketing

Pros: When utilizing a high-quality database to target specific buyer types, direct mail response rates are often around four to five percent. Historically, before database technology emerged, response rates were less than one percent. As with email, tracking capabilities with direct mailers are strong. A distinct advantage is that a high-quality, personalized print piece can make a great impression because of its tangible format. Format and design versatility allow you to blend imagery with detailed information. Quality paper and glossy finishes can improve the perceived value of your mailer.

Cons: The costs of production and mailing are a key drawback of direct mail relative to email marketing. Also, while read rates have improved greatly with personalized message targeting, a lot of mailers still get thrown out unread. A quality piece is vital, as poor-quality mailers are viewed as “junk mail” and can tarnish your brand image.


A thoughtful evaluation of the pros and cons of email marketing and direct mail marketing reveal a few keys to success with each. First, a quality design matters greatly in attracting attention to your message. Second, you need to target the right people at the right time by leveraging thorough data profiles like those offered by Salesgenie. By focusing on these factors, you can achieve impressive results with emails and direct mailers.

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