Direct Mail vs. Email Calculator

Are you missing out on opportunity?

For a complete omnichannel strategy to work effectively, it includes personalized email, SMS, push mobile app engagement, social engagement, data driven ads and website engagement. What do all of these channels have in common? If you said they’re all digital, you’re correct. But with email fatigue, spam filtering, ad blockers and opt out requirements, is there something missing from your communication strategy to make sure you’ve covered all your bases?


Are you missing direct mail?

Digital channels just don’t have the same impact that actual, tactile letters delivered to a real mailbox do. But many marketers are overlooking or disregarding this once indispensable marketing tool.

The high cost of direct mail vs. email is a common objection.

Let’s look a little more closely, as it can seem pricey when compared to the digital choices available.

If costs exceed 50 cents to produce a marketing letter, but are a fraction of a penny for an email, you’re bound to feel a little ripped off by the cost of direct mail. Add to that the high cost of postage — direct mail just doesn’t make sense, right?

Why should you spend on direct mail when digital solutions are so much cheaper? A recent Winterberry Group whitepaper may provide the best answer.

Over 100 executive-level thought leaders were surveyed—including contributors, sponsors and reviewers representing all segments of the advertising, marketing, media and technology industries. Asked about acquisition of specific, uniquely qualified customers, most respondents (54.5 percent) were bullish about the role of direct mail.

A few comments from the panelists paint a provocative picture for the digital devotee.

“Email is very effective for marketing to existing customers, but I never see email work on its own. We have messed that up for ourselves as marketers by bombarding people with emails. I see response rates getting worse. But performance for email as a channel goes up when it’s a combined campaign with direct mail.”

Or this…

“What direct mail does well is to get people to read your message. It’s physical—you can’t delete it or ignore it like an email. People will either accept or reject your message, but they will look at it. I think direct mail works well for acquisition.”

So is spending on direct mail worth it?

It’s all about the numbers. You’ve got to examine the cost of the opportunity lost.

The handy calculator compares the costs of direct mail vs. email campaigns. Assumptions are made based on industry recognized averages.(Search with Google “email response rates” or “direct mail response rates” for yourself to find relevant stats, or see this from the DMA as an example.) It does cost more to send a letter, yes, but the rates of response seen from a well planned direct mail campaign will make you think twice about disregarding direct mail.

Consider a balanced approach that encompasses digital and a well planned and executed direct mail program to fully realize the results you need. The real expense is not the cost of direct mail, but the lost opportunity when not being used.