Direct Marketing ~ Email VS Direct Mail

Direct Marketing is a crucial component of any lead generation program and should be part of your strategic marketing plan.  In 2012, B-to-B companies are continuing to include direct marketing in their marketing mix, but are focusing their efforts on email campaigns.  Why are they choosing email vs direct mail…there is one simple reason!  MONEY….Yes….it’s cheaper to run an email campaign verse a direct mail campaign…but which is one is giving back a greater ROI?

Marketing PlanAs a marketing consultant, I recommend to my clients not to put their eggs all in one basket and only rely on email campaigns only. To be successful, it’s important to utilize each slice of the direct marketing pie effectively.  My belief is that email marketing should be about retention and focus on your customers only, while direct mail should be used strictly for prospecting.

Here are the problems I have seen with email campaigns over the years:

  1. Noise & Clutter – Just too many emails in our inboxes – On a daily basis, I receive around 40-50 promotional emails from businesses.   I receive more promotional emails than actual work emails from my colleagues.  There is “Noise” and “Clutter” in our inbox that has caused us to stop paying attention to our emails and simply ignoring it.
  2. Lower Response Rates– Due to the clutter discussed above, response rates have dropped under 1% for email campaigns where a few years ago we saw response rates above 2%.
  3. Open Rates Have Dropped Due To Junk Emails– We just hit delete or watch emails fly into our junk folder and rarely hit open.  This is happening more and more….Our open rates have dropped from an average of 14%-20% to 5%-10% over the past few years.

The good news is that whether you are utilizing email or direct mail…..there are a few concepts that holds true for both:

1.   What is your offer

2.  How relevant is that offer to the audience you want to target

3.  Timing of your campaign

4.  What action are you asking your audience to perform?

The items above can help you increase the success of your email campaigns…but the true success will be when companies start focusing email campaigns on their customers only. This will increase the response rates because a person is more likely to open the email if they are a customer.

Why Direct Mail?

An example of direct mail used by political ca...

Image via Wikipedia

Yes…Direct mail marketing tends to be a costly and time consuming campaign to implement, costs can range from a $1 a piece to $5 a piece.  Designing, printing and mailing the campaign can take a number of weeks and usually involves a third party mailhouse.  However, direct mail is great for sending promotional items and delivering them right into the hands of your prospect. Unlike email marketing which is constrained by available space and layout, direct mail marketing can be colorful, attention grabbing and use as much space as you need to get your message across.  The campaign has longevity and can make an impact for a long time.

At the end of the day, each business needs to figure out what direct marketing mix works best for them.  Remember…..cheaper is not always better or the right way to reach your customer base.


Monique Merhige is the President of Infusion Direct Marketing & Advertising, Inc.  She has over 15 years of marketing communications experience with technology companies ranging from small service firms and equipment manufacturers to a 1.5 Billion dollar division of Motorola.  Infusion is a marketing consulting firm that specializes in the security industry and delivers marketing solutions that include Public Relations, Direct Marketing, Branding, Collateral Development, and Social Media Marketing.  Visit: or call 631-846-1558




  1. Thanks Monique for this post. I thought this eGuide might be a useful add on to this article on the death of email marketing –

  2. Brady Irvine says:

    Great article Monique, I totally agree with you. I recently wrote a similar post aimed at the car industry. ( ) Obviously most people focus on the new exciting technology, so suggesting something as old school as direct mail can sound a bit like shouting “Hey, throw away your cell phone, I just invented the telegraph!!!”

  3. Hi Monique,
    You bring up good points about both e-mail and direct marketing campaigns. In fact, although I am a vigorous proponent of going digital and fume when I receive paper mail, I am tired of digital overload too. There is just too much info bombarding me and it become a full time job just to pare down to what is relevant, valuable and remarkable.
    Thanks for your thoughts on this timely topic.

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