Direct mail and email are forms of marketing your business. Direct mail is the more traditional approach and allows you to physically get your business, product, or service in front of potential customers. Email is a form of digital marketing that provides a fast, interactive way of reading your target market and loyal customers. The question is, which option is best to implement into your marketing strategy?

Both have pros and cons, but the ultimate test is which is able to generate more leads for your business.  So let’s look at a little data on how they stand up to one another. 


In most instances, email is a more cost-effective option. You can send bulk emails for little to no cost. Another benefit is that email marketing can be completed in-house; with a little effort, you can do it yourself.

Although direct mail may cost more, it can also have more of an impact. There are also ways to reduce costs by outsourcing graphic design, printing, and distribution. Here’s an example:

open rate

What gets opened more frequently, email or direct mail? Surprisingly, direct mail is opened up to 90% of the time, compared to a mere 30% of emails. One reason is that email marketing has become so popular that many recipients automatically delete or send business emails to spam.

People also like ‘receiving’ things in the mail. This is why the physical nature of direct mail can be more beneficial to you. One key point to keep in mind is that to be effective, direct mail needs to be attractive and enticing to the recipient.

response rate

While open rates are important, you know what really tells you if your efforts are working? The response rate. Will your customers actually take action after receiving your marketing piece. Research shows a 4.4% response rate for direct mail compared to a tiny 0.12% response rate for emails. This is largely due to the fact people receive many more emails than direct mail marketing. 

Realistically, a good business will utilize both tactics for different reasons. Direct mail can be used for more formal and personal marketing pieces. Email is more about being informal and spontaneous – it’s useful when you need quick responses or to advertise a sale. It’s important that you figure out how to work both options in tandem to really see the benefits of each.