At some point, every business reaches that marketing fork-in-the-road: Direct mail marketing or email marketing? Each path has its pros and its cons. Each has been accused of becoming obsolete in the face of some greater marketing power, and each has alternatively been praised as the best, most effective form of marketing. With so many polarized opinions out there, it can be difficult to decide which marketing path your business will follow. Here is a list comparing the benefits and downsides of direct mail marketing and email marketing.

Email Marketing:
First off, email marketing is less expensive per record than direct mail. The amount of email addresses in a broadcast is often times in the millions so the amount of people you are able to reach in a single campaign is immense. Your expenses will come primarily from designing your email campaign creative, from finding valid email addresses to target and, if you choose, from finding a company to broadcast your email creative for you. Secondly, email is fast; you can get your message out to people in a matter of seconds. This also makes email a great medium for testing your campaigns before launch. Third, and related, is the fact that email marketing gives your leads the opportunity for immediate action. If you offer a special promotion, your email readers will be able to take advantage of that promotion almost instantaneously.

On the downside, many argue that people are less receptive to email because they are constantly overloaded with spam. Your emails could even get classified as spam themselves, so most companies opt to use an email marketing company to conduct the blast on their behalf – these companies are able to get through the spam blocks so that your message is read. Your email marketing campaigns will also have to be short; internet users often have a very limited attention span, which means if your email doesn’t catch their attention right away, it probably won’t have much impact.

Direct Mail Marketing:
On the upside, studies have shown that people are much more receptive to direct mail marketing; in fact, one study by Epsilon Targeting shows that the majority of Americans prefer receiving direct mail about offers or products over receiving emails. This may be due to the fact that having something physical in their hands is more tangible than something they see on their computer screen. Second, direct mail marketing gives you more leeway in terms of space. Consumers are much more likely to read an entire letter delivered by mail than one delivered by email. This means that your direct mail marketing campaigns can be more subtle and more detailed than those delivered by email. Third, as more companies try the email marketing route, there is more space in the mailbox, or less competition, for your direct mail piece. Fewer pieces of mail means a higher chance that your direct mail piece will be read.

The main downside to direct mail marketing is that it can be expensive if you don’t target your audience properly, although this can be avoided by purchasing a targeted mailing list. Direct mail marketing also requires more time invested, which means that responses won’t be immediate.

All in all, it would seem that, between direct mail marketing and email marketing,  the best marketing path is not to follow one or the other, but rather, to forge a path between the two. Each strategy accommodates for the other’s weaknesses; it would seem that direct mail and email are a marketing match made in heaven. And while this may not exactly be the path less traveled, it has become that way for a reason: Combined approaches to marketing have been proven successful time and again – remember the term “marketing mix”? As you navigate your business’s individual marketing strategy, we hope that you will keep US Data Corporation in mind for all of your direct mail and email marketing needs.