Email Marketing vs. Direct Mail: What’s the Difference?

Shaun H. Ruff


As a business manager or owner, you know how many challenges you face each day. It can seem like an endless cycle of things to handle, manage, and navigate. 

Yet, no matter what else you need to do, making sure you’re connecting with current and future customers is critical for your business to continue to thrive. 

So, how can you connect, do the marketing necessary to engage your customer base? In today’s technology-driven world, there’s a big debate for marketing experts on email vs mail. What will get you noticed? What do your customers pay attention to?

Read on for the explanation between email marketing and direct mail marketing and the things to consider with each option.

What Is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is a form of marketing done by a business where they connect with their customer base through the digital email platform. Small business email campaigns don’t put a physical object like a flier or coupon in the hands of a customer. Instead, it’s delivered to the inbox of the email of your mailing list. 

Email marketing hopes to take advantage of the fact that consumers have technology at their fingertips. In fact, users spend an average of three hours and 15 minutes on their phones every day. 

Email marketing hopes to tap into those minutes. While you scroll your phone or computer and check your email, they hope you’ll also take advantage of a sale or click on an opportunity so you’re engaged with their company.

Developing an Email Marketing List

One of the key factors, of course, in developing an effective email marketing campaign is having the list of addresses to send it to. Your stellar and carefully planned emails need an audience

Part of your marketing plan must include how you develop worthwhile email marketing lists. Some businesses will choose to purchase email addresses to use in a campaign. 

Yet, the most effective email marketing list will come from the one you develop yourself. 

Your website must have a subscriber’s box that allows customers and potential customers to sign up to get emails from you. Each time you do business with a customer, make an effort to collect an email address that can be added to your database.

Use other marketing platforms like your social media channels to encourage customers to sign up with you so they get emails from you. 

It takes time, but with some planning and diligence, you can develop quite an email marketing list. 

 Benefits of Email Marketing

Email marketing effectiveness means you bring a wealth of benefits to your business. Of course, the end-all goal of email marketing is to increase your business sales. Yet, effective email marketing provides many other benefits too. 

Once you develop a good email mailing list, you’re able to create custom content in your emails depending on the needs and wants of your customers. 

In addition to communicating with your audience, you’re able to generate traffic to your website. This allows you to keep high engagement with your customer. If they’re engaged with you as a business, they’re more likely to be spending money with you too. 

When you have your own email marketing list, you have a forum that’s easy to do self-promotion. It also allows you to create more targeted campaigns because they are cost-effective. Aside from the actual planning and marketing work, you’re not paying to print and send materials. Sending an email doesn’t cost you as a business. 

What Is Direct Mail Marketing?

While email marketing is done all digitally, direct mail marketing means you are sending a physical item to a customer. This physical correspondence goes in the mail, usually through the US Postal Service, and is delivered to the potential customer. 

Of course, the goal, like with email marketing, is that the customer will respond to the flier, paper, or catalog you put in their hands and give you business. 

Because you’re not only paying to mail a flier but also paying to print material, the direct mailing must be very strategic in what you hope a customer will do. You want your direct mail marketing to have a clear and bold call to action that encourages a customer to engage with your business either by visiting a website or coming to a physical location.

Benefits of Direct Mail Marketing

While those who support taking advantage of the focus on technology, others would argue there are some real benefits to consider with direct mail marketing. 

First, direct mail marketing doesn’t require a customer to opt-in. You don’t have to get the customer to opt-in with an email address. So, whether they opt to subscribe or even later unsubscribe, you can still get the marketing materials in their physical hands. 

Many have gotten wise to the many marketing emails they receive on a daily basis. Accordingly, they have set up spam folders to avoid facing them daily. Direct mail doesn’t end up lost in a spam folder. People check their mail daily and their hands, and more importantly, their eyes are on the material. 

When a customer gets a piece of direct mail, they have a physical piece of paper, flier, or catalog. Those last longer than the email that disappears by the next day. People will save those flyers and come back to them, sometimes even months later. 

A direct mail marketing campaign can help to drive your traffic to your website and social media platforms. It can be a physical reminder to go to those sites so you can increase engagement or make a sale. 

Email Vs Mail Marketing, Which Best Meets Your Marketing Needs?

Email vs mail marketing has the same goal, engage the customer and make the sale. They go about the process very differently. 

If you want to learn more about our email marketing opportunities or how we can help you with your marketing campaigns, contact us today.

© 2022, Chris Duncan. All rights reserved.


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