Direct Mail Marketing Vs. Email Marketing: What’s Best for Your Small Business?

Small businesses cannot ignore the power of direct mail marketing and email marketing. Of course, both have their advantages and disadvantages. But, both are an efficient and cost-effective way to find new customers, make new sales, up-sell to current customers, and stay connected with existing customers. And best of all, both of these marketing methods can be easily implemented into the marketing plans of even the smallest business on a very tight budget. Here is a quick overview and comparison of both methods.

graphic-at-email-symbolDirect Mail Marketing          

Direct mail marketing is not dead. It is still as powerful as it has ever been. One of the best things about direct mail marketing is that it has the ability to get your message into the hands of your prospects.

1. Recipients More Receptive

Many people are still not using email. Plus the fact that people will most likely spend more time reading a post card or letter than they will an email. Getting a beautiful post card or envelope into the recipient’s hand can be a powerful tool. As long as you design your marketing material so that it catches the reader’s eye, they will read your message. So much of the mail marketing pieces that arrive in a person’s mailbox is so poorly designed, that much of it gets ignored. Make your piece stand out from the rest, and they will read your message.

Recommended for YouWebcast: A Week in the Life of an Agile Creative Team

2. Can Become Expensive

If you are not targeting the correct audience, you will be wasting time and money. Sending marketing materials directly to specific people at specific addresses will keep your costs way down, and greatly improve your chances of making a sale.

3. Can Be Time Consuming

Building a mail list, and designing amazing marketing materials to send out, takes time, thought, and money. But as a small business, you must always be adding to and improving your mail list and marketing materials. Right from day one. Many small businesses, home-based businesses, and professional practices will live or die based on how good their mail list and marketing materials are.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is amazing, cheap, quick, and easy to implement, but it will not be replacing direct mail for a very long time. One of the best things about email is that it is trackable. This data can be used to analyze open rates, clicked links, and conversion details. All of this data can help you fine-tune your email content and message.

1. Very Inexpensive

You can easily start an email list and not spend one cent. But getting email addresses from anyone beyond your current customers can be very time-consuming. But eventually you will build a larger list. Then you will need an email service company to manage and send your email messages. Many of these service companies have a free plan to manage up to a certain amount of addresses.

2. Very Fast

Once your emails are designed and set-up, you can send out a mass email in a few minutes. Your recipients will start opening your email message a few minutes after you sent it. You will start to get hits on your website a few minutes later. Amazingly fast.

3. Very Convenient

Providing links to your products and services makes an email very convenient to the recipients. Links allow them to quickly understand what your email is trying to tell, and sell, them. This speed is one of the major reasons we enjoy emails.

What’s Best for Your Small Business?

Don’t be afraid to use both methods at the same time. Direct mail might work better for some of your prospects and current customers. Email might work better for the others. Each method has several similarities, and several important differences. You will need to decide which method, or both, is the best for your small business. The reality of the situation is that direct mail and email marketing are a perfect match for each other. Each method makes up for the shortcomings of the other. Used together they create a powerful tool to use in your marketing plan.

Here Are Some Questions To Ask Yourself

Is your communication time-sensitive? Do you have a budget to work with? How much explanation do your prospects require? Do you have a good mail list for one method or both? Have you already asked your current customers to join your mail and email list? Are some, most, or all of your customers online?

Discuss This Article

Comments: 4

  • Alexander says:

    Thanks for article. Now we don’t use direct mail for lead generation, but I think we could try

    • Hi Alexander. We have been successfully using direct mail for lead generation for many years. We put a lot of effort into making sure that our marketing pieces get into the right hands. We also believe that we have a great response rate because direct mail is just one part of our overall marketing strategy. Part of this strategy involves email marketing, article marketing, and heavy use of social media. Thank you for your comments. Joe

  • Joseph, great information, thanks for sharing this. I particularly agree with your statement about the need to integrate methods to maximize effectiveness. Exactly.

    Unfortunately, I’m finding that businesses are choosing email over direct mail solely for reasons of cost and not based upon what’s best suited to their marketplace. This hurts their ability to generate leads and sales. Some businesses use only email, and it’s detrimental.

    In my opinion, one key factor in making the determination about marketing mix should be quality of list. For some marketplaces, mail contact lists will be cleaner and significantly outperform email. Another determination is audience profile. Some segments simply will not be responsive if they have overstuffed inboxes (like business leaders) or aren’t likely to be avid email users (like the elderly population).

    Has your experience been similar? Thanks for keeping the discussion going about this, it’s an important topic.

  • Hi Matt. I agree completely with you about the quality of the email list and the direct mail list. Every day we work at keeping both lists very current and accurate. This greatly improves our response rate, as well as keeps our costs down.

Add a New Comment

Thank you for adding to the conversation!

Our comments are moderated. Your comment may not appear immediately.