The Pros and Cons of Direct Mail vs. E-Mail: and why you must use both

June 28, 2010 Deb Griffith

I have been in the printing industry for more than 25 years. Over the last 10 plus years we have all been hearing unsubstantiated rumors that “print is or will be dead.” When the internet first came on the scene, it was only a matter of time to start seeing and hearing about the validity of print, and what was going to happen to the industry.

Sure, it was pretty obvious that were certain types of print that were going to be reduced or completely vanish; like manuals and directories. But the internet provided valid reasons for those products demise; cost and the information of these products being outdated even as they were being printed and distributed. And then email started to gain momentum, and it never stopped. Then we started to and continue to hear why budgets were shifted away from direct mail and put towards email. Now comes “Social Media Marketing.”

Again, we hear all the evangelists stating how this will replace a myriad of existing communication vehicles. Just as way back when that I preached print was not going to die, and then direct mail was not going to die, I stay true to my beliefs. Sure, new media tools will continue to emerge, but the tried and true methods of why people still love and appreciate print, will not change. Nor will print go away. You just need to know which way to use all the various communication tools and how each one can be effective in its’ own right.

Some interesting things to consider regarding Direct mail vs. Email: Direct Mail


  • Higher Viewer rate: Approximately 85% of consumers view their mail daily.
  • Adds tactile quality: Readers will touch and feel your message.
  • Personalized messages: response rates for personalized mailings average over 10%.
  • Credibility: 80% of those who read a printed message believe it because print is credible. Direct Mail


  • Will cost more if done incorrectly * Slower to get to recipient than email
  • Many moving parts to execute properly E-mail Pros
  • Great communication tool to your existing customer base if that is there preferred method to be communicated by.
  • Speed to market to get message out E-mail Cons
  • Anti-Spam Mechanisms: On average 80% of “unsolicited emails” are blocked by spam filters, even so called “good” emails get blocked.
  • Email Overload: The average person receives approximately 274 personal and 304 business e-mails– per week.

Whether e-mail or direct mail is best for your marketing largely depends on your business model. In today’s economic environment a combination of both probably makes the most sense in order to maximize your marketing return on investment. The key is ensuring that you are delivering a compelling message to your targeted audience.

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