Direct Mail vs Email: Which One Should I Choose?

Direct Mail vs Email: Which One Should I Choose?

October 5, 2023

There’s no shortage of ways for marketers to reach their target audience. Email marketing and social media have become the hot strategies of late, and it’s easy to understand why—it’s easy to reach wide audiences in a cost-effective manner.

However, these methods come with their drawbacks. We’ve become so inundated with digital marketing messages that many of us turn our brains off for promotional emails that make it past our spam filter. This is just one of the many reasons why direct mail marketing continues to be such an effective strategy.

With platforms like Postal, the age-old practice of direct mail is getting a modern makeover, blending the tactile allure of physical mailers with the precision of automation. Discover the efficiency and impact of direct mail automation in our blog, where we'll delve into how this technology can streamline your marketing efforts and boost engagement.

Now let’s talk more about direct mail versus email, and how to choose between the two.

Is Email Marketing All It's Cracked Up to Be?

Email marketing’s ability to reach vast audiences instantly, coupled with impressive automation capabilities, has made it a staple in most marketing toolkits. But as the digital landscape becomes increasingly saturated, it’s worth asking whether email marketing continues to live up to its reputation.

Let’s go through some of email marketing’s key traits.

The Positives of Email Marketing


Most believe that email marketing is one of the most cost-efficient strategies. After all, without the expenses associated with printing, postage, or physical distribution, businesses can communicate with thousands, if not millions, of potential customers without breaking the bank. This cost-saving aspect is particularly appealing to small businesses and startups with limited marketing budgets.

However, this line of thinking ignores return on investment (ROI). Postal streamlines the direct mail process, reducing overheads and ensuring that every mailer sent is optimized for impact. When you factor in the higher engagement and response rates that direct mail often garners, the ROI can be substantial. Plus, with Postal's seamless integration capabilities and data-driven insights, businesses can further refine their campaigns for maximum effectiveness.

Curious about how Postal can provide a cost-effective boost to your marketing strategy? Connect with us, and let's explore the potential of direct mail together.

Real-Time Analytics

The digital nature of email marketing means that results are almost instantaneous. Marketers can quickly gauge the success of their campaigns by analyzing open rates, click-through rates, and conversion metrics. This real-time feedback allows for swift adjustments, optimizing campaigns on the fly.

Personalization and Segmentation

Modern email marketing platforms offer sophisticated tools for personalization. From crafting attention-grabbing subject lines to delivering content tailored to individual preferences, email marketing can create a sense of one-on-one communication. Furthermore, segmentation tools allow businesses to categorize their email list based on demographics, purchase history, or engagement levels, ensuring that the right message reaches the right audience.

Explore the art of direct mail personalization in our blog post, where we reveal the strategies and benefits of tailoring your messages to connect with your audience on a more meaningful level.

Integration with Other Digital Platforms

Email marketing doesn't exist in a vacuum. It can be seamlessly integrated with other digital platforms, be it social media channels like LinkedIn or e-commerce websites. This interconnectedness ensures a cohesive and consistent brand message across various touchpoints.

Email Marketing Challenges

Despite these advantages, email marketing faces its share of challenges.


With the ease and affordability of email marketing comes saturation and competition—the average office worker receives over a hundred emails daily. Standing out in such a crowded space is becoming increasingly challenging.

Spam Filters and Deliverability Issues

Advanced spam filters mean that not all your emails will reach your intended recipients. Even well-crafted, legitimate marketing emails can sometimes end up in the dreaded spam folder, significantly reducing their visibility and impact.

Decreasing Attention Spans

Because we’re overloaded with information, our attention spans are dwindling. Even if your email does land in the recipient's inbox and gets opened, there's no guarantee it will be read thoroughly or that the call to action will be acted upon.

Data Privacy Concerns

With increasing concerns about data privacy and regulations like GDPR, businesses need to be more cautious than ever about how they collect, store, and use email addresses. This has added an additional layer of complexity to email marketing campaigns.

While email marketing offers numerous benefits and remains a potent tool in the digital marketing arsenal, it's essential to approach it with a balanced perspective. It's not the silver bullet solution to all marketing challenges, and its effectiveness can vary based on industry, target audience, and execution quality.

To bolster their marketing efforts, an increasing number of companies are embracing the tried-and-true effectiveness of direct mail marketing.

Delving into the Power of Direct Mail

In a time when screens dominate our attention, the tactile experience of direct mail offers a refreshing break. While email marketing has its merits, direct mail brings a set of undeniable benefits that make it an essential component of a well-rounded marketing strategy. Let's explore why direct mail continues to hold its ground in the marketing world.

Tangible Connections

There's an undeniable charm in holding a physical piece of mail. The act of opening an envelope, flipping through a catalog, or discovering a surprise gift creates a sensory experience that digital platforms can't match. This tangible connection fosters a deeper engagement with the content, making the recipient feel valued and appreciated.

Impressive Engagement Metrics

Unlike our distraction-filled devices, direct mail commands attention. Numerous studies highlight that direct mail campaigns often boast response rates that eclipse those of email marketing. The very nature of physical mail—its tangibility and permanence—means recipients are more inclined to interact with it. In an inbox cluttered with promotional emails, a well-designed mail piece stands a better chance of being noticed and acted upon.

Precision in Targeting

Direct mail offers a level of demographic targeting that's hard to match. Whether you're aiming for a specific age group, income bracket, or geographic location, direct mail campaigns can be tailored to reach the exact audience segment you have in mind. This precision ensures that your marketing message resonates with the right people, maximizing the chances of conversion.

Prolonged Brand Exposure

Imagine a beautifully crafted postcard or a detailed product catalog lying on a coffee table, waiting to be picked up and browsed multiple times. Unlike emails that can be swiftly archived or deleted, a compelling direct mail piece can linger in a recipient's space, offering repeated brand exposures. This prolonged presence not only enhances brand recall but also increases the likelihood of the recipient taking the desired action, be it making a purchase, signing up for a webinar, or visiting a landing page.

Bypassing Digital Hurdles

Email addresses change, spam filters become more stringent, and users can easily opt out of email lists. Direct mail, on the other hand, often enjoys a more stable recipient base. A physical mailing address tends to remain consistent, ensuring that your marketing efforts reach their intended destination.

Ultimately, direct mail offers a depth of engagement that's hard to replicate online. Its tactile nature, combined with the ability to target precisely and offer prolonged brand exposure, makes it a formidable tool in any marketer's arsenal.

Weighing the Options: Direct Mail or Email Marketing?

Both direct mail and email marketing bring distinct advantages to the table. Rather than viewing them in isolation, consider how they can complement each other within a broader marketing strategy.

Here are some steps to help you navigate this decision:

Understand Your Audience’s Preferences

Your audience's preferences play a pivotal role in dictating the success of your marketing efforts. For instance, a demographic that values traditional communication methods might resonate more with direct mail.

Align with the Nature of Your Message

The content and urgency of your message can also influence the choice between direct mail and email. While direct mail can offer a tangible, immersive experience for detailed content, email shines when you need to convey time-sensitive information or quick updates.

Assessing the Financial Implications

Budget considerations are paramount. While direct mail, with its printing and postage costs, might seem more expensive at first glance, its potential for impressive response rates could offer a favorable return on investment.

Too many marketers overlook the efficacy and significant returns that come with direct mail. With all-in-one platforms like Postal, embracing a holistic offline engagement strategy has never been easier.

Harnessing the Unique Strengths of Direct Mail with Postal

At Postal, we champion the enduring impact of direct mail in an increasingly digital world. Our platform doesn't just facilitate sending mailers—it's a gateway to a myriad of offline engagement opportunities. Whether it's a meticulously designed direct mail piece that resonates with your audience or a thoughtful corporate gift that deepens customer relationships, we ensure every touchpoint is impactful and memorable.

As you chart the course of your marketing journey, don’t ignore the unparalleled benefits of direct mail, especially when integrated into a broader offline engagement strategy. With Postal by your side, you're equipped to forge genuine, lasting bonds with your audience.

Explore our article on the top direct mail marketing companies to find the best partners for your marketing campaigns. Also, if you're looking for direct mailer examples check out our curated selection to inspire your next marketing campaign and captivate your audience.

Eager to elevate your marketing approach and harness the unmatched potential of direct mail? Partner with us and let's craft compelling narratives that captivate and convert.

Alex Barca
Alex Barca

Alex Barca is the Director of Demand Generation at Postal, where she oversees paid acquisition, direct mail, corporate gifting, and inbound sales development. Prior to Postal, Alex worked across marketing functions at Bullhorn and Curata. Outside of work, Alex enjoys watching reality TV and spending time with family and friends in the NYC area.