Direct Mail and Email: Working Together

I’ve been reading a lot lately about “direct email vs. email.” Why can’t we get along? Online and offline marketing techniques shouldn’t compete for the title of who is “better.” Instead, let’s work together.

Caroline Melberg, of Melberg Marketing and Small Business Mavericks, runs a blog called Blue Chip Marketing Tips. This blog is unlike many that I follow, as it focuses on marketing in general, and does not usually talk about online marketing techniques. I enjoy reading Blue Chip Marketing Tips because its different from what I usually read. I don’t buy into the fact that “traditional marketing is going downhill,” as many experts claim. I believe the era of online marketing will complement and make more traditional marketing. I don’t think its a contest. Let’s work together.

Another reason I like Blue Chip Marketing Tips is because, sometimes, I disagree. Yes, I like it when I disagree with a post. Why? Because I enjoy showing people how truly effective and successful online and e-marketing can be.

Recently, Caroline wrote a post entitled, “Why Direct Mail Should be a Part of your Marketing Plan.” Let me first start out by saying that I completely agree. Direct Mail should definitely be a part of your marketing plan in order to help pull your potential and existing clients into the sales funnel. What i disagree with is her reasoning around why.

Under her Reasons for Direct Mail, she claims:

1. “Email marketing has a lot of competition and spam filters will often stop your emails if they are too salesy. However, direct mail is still something that catches people´s attention as they look through it physically.”

2. “Direct mail results are often in within a couple of weeks. You´ll know quickly how successful the campaign was and will be able to track each direct mailout by using codes on the return cards.”

3. “By being careful to keep your brochures, flyers and sales letters fairly small and light so they can be sent in a regular envelope and not cost you extra cash, you should be able to save a lot of money, making it actually fairly economical to send out real paper letters.”

Now let’s take a look at these one at a time:

  • First of all, I agree that there are potential deliverability issues with email. However, if you follow best practices, the CAN SPAM requirements, and deliverability standards, your email will reach up to 96& of your recipients inboxes. To do this, you have to work hard. If you’re willing to work hard, email marketing can give you a MUCH higher ROI than direct mail, as displayed by Heidi Anderson of Click Z in this article.
  • Second of all, direct mail results com back in a few weeks, but email marketing results are usually instant, coming back as early as an hour after the initial send. You can find out immediately if its working.
  • Third of all, keeping your direct mail pieces light can result in less postal shipping, but email marketing requires no shipping costs!

So, let’s take a look at using direct mail in conjunction with email marketing. Remember, don’t turn your online and offline marketing against each other, find someway for them to get along. , direct mail can work extremely well along with email marketing, especially in an email acquisition campaign, in which you are looking to collect your potential customers’ email addresses. Compelling direct mail pieces can be sent to a targeted, purchased postal list (or a house postal list, if you have one.), requesting recipients to visit a website and sign up in order to receive an incentive or premium.

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5 thoughts on “Direct Mail and Email: Working Together

  1. I see no reason why conventional, physical direct mail cannot go hand in hand with email marketing. I believe the key is whether (a) you/the company is seen as an authority in the subject, (b) you talk to the right niche. If you are barking at the wrong tree, nothing happens and (c) provide a solution to address the target audience’s problem. If these 3 major issues are addressed, coupled with a carefully worded and deigned message, both direct mail and email should work.A campaign usually runs for weeks or even months, you can roll out the direct mail separately from email to gouge results. That would allow you time and resource to tweak to perfection.

    Nice post with interesting topic. 🙂

  2. Hi Erica,

    One additional thing I didn’t really go into in my original post regarding direct mail and e-mail is factoring in the pre-disposition of your audience to either type of medium. The article by Heidi Anderson in your link is great, and she does cover the fact that the audience in the case study is in the IT industry, so is highly pre-disposed to e-mail offers. It’s a big point that needs to be taken into consideration (thanks for pointing out that article – it’s great!) in terms of who your target audience is. I’m in total agreement with you on using direct mail and e-mail together – just like any other mediums (television and online, for instance), they work better together!


  3. @ Caroline! Thanks for your comments! I completely agree that your audience is the primary determinant when deciding which medium you should use. Obviously, if you’re targeting a much older audience, a direct mail piece may be your best bet (although today, who knows? More and more senior citizens are learning to use computers and the internet!)

    Once again, thanks for your comments!

  4. Erica-

    Hate to say it, but you shouldn’t use the ClickZ article…it’s way to flawed an example and is so weighted to eMail it’s not fair. The simple fact that they sent eMail and snail mail to the same address only proves that the two media work together and that they don’t have a clue on how to run a direct marketing test. The email crowd is working way to hard to say use email it works best.

    Here’s a link ( to a study by InfoTrends that shows improved response rates when multiple media are used. I believe this so much, that I’ve created a new program that gives you the ability to have your snail mail and eMail message deliver on THE SAME DAY—yes, the same day. It’s called eTriggerPro ( We track the mail, know it’s delivery day and can trigger an email, text message etc. to arrive on the same day. We’ve just launched it this month.

    So, yes I agree with you that the two should not compete, but instead help each other. It’s about smart direct marketing…right?


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