Don’t Choose Between Direct Mail and Digital Marketing — Get the Best Results with Both

Aristotle used to teach that virtue was found between two extremes; he called this desired middle ground the golden mean. And as we ponder the ancient wisdom of Aristotle, let’s apply it to an age-old question of marketing: What is the best way to reach your target audience?  

In today’s world, reaching your audience means using a variety of channels to get their attention and asking yourself some questions like “Is direct mail better at making memorable experiences? Or does the reach of digital marketing outweigh it?” But what if you didn’t have to choose? What if it wasn’t an either/or situation? Rather than brawling it out between digital marketing strategies (like social media and email) and direct mail, we can find Aristotle’s golden mean and find the truth that lies between them. 

As we explore in search of the perfect middle ground, here’s a truth to get us started: It’s been reported that marketing campaigns that used direct mail along with 1 or more digital media channel experienced 118% lift in response rate compared to using direct mail only. Now that’s a number we can live with.

Benefits of Each Marketing Method

Saying that one marketing method is superior to another quickly leads to hot water because what will reach one person may not be the key to reaching another. Both direct mail and digital marketing have their benefits, and it’s important to understand what they are so you can leverage their strengths appropriately. 

Direct Mail

The largest advantage of direct mail is that it has the potential for 100% market saturation because the postal system delivers mail to every single address in the country, while social media platforms hit approximately 70% saturation (we’re looking at you, Facebook!). Another major benefit of direct mail is that you can physically touch it. That visceral experience helps your target audience connect and remember your offer. Direct mail is likely to be placed on a counter, table, or fridge, meaning there’s a higher chance it will be seen and considered multiple times. Not to mention, through the use of codes and offers, you can easily track how much converts into profitable action.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing’s strength lies in its ability to approach your target audience from multiple avenues, 24/7. Whether they are on vacation or stuck in an excruciatingly long work meeting, the massive reach of digital marketing has the ability to slip your message in front of your audience via social media, display ads, email, and more. Not to mention, most methods of digital marketing come with some sophisticated measurements capabilities baked in to help you track every ad and give you insights into which ones get the most bites.

But with strengths come weaknesses. With digital marketing, your ease of reaching your audience is equal to their ease in deleting or clicking away from your message. Meanwhile, direct mail is known to be less “instant” and more expensive. However, when these strategies are combined, it’s a different story—you can capture their strengths and offset their weaknesses.

Better Together

Studies have shown that a potential customer needs to have 7-20 contacts (also known as impressions) with an ad or product before they commit. This means you need to have as many touchpoints as possible to ensure you get a good return from your marketing campaigns. 

For example, let’s consider Jane. Jane works Monday through Friday at a standard 9-5 job, where she’s now back in the office. Every morning on her way back inside from her run before work, she stops at her mailbox and grabs her mail that she quickly glances through before throwing it on the counter. Today, she notices a postcard about a new cookie shop down the street—after all, she’s doing awesome on her run goals this week so it might be a fun weekend treat. 

Jane hops in the shower, gets ready for work, and heads to the office. On her way, she stops by her favorite coffee shop and while she’s waiting in the drive-thru takes a quick scroll through her social media feed. In between her college roommate’s baby announcement and an article about the top concealers to try there’s that cookie shop again!

After a super productive morning, Jane sits down to enjoy her lunch. She’s catching up on a few articles that she wants to read to make sure she’s staying up on industry best practices. It seems like each one has an ad for that cookie shop—and, of course, she brought a salad for lunch and that raspberry cheesecake brownie cookie looks REAL good. 

Once she’s home for the day, Jane is cleaning off her counter and going through the mail she picked up earlier in the day. That cookie shop’s postcard is right there waiting, and when she flips it over there’s even a coupon on the back. The rest of the mail gets tossed or filed, but that coupon gets to sit on the counter till she can head over to the cookie shop on Saturday.

With each of these touchpoints, this new cookie shop is earning a spot as the top-of-mind option when Jane is considering where she wants to satisfy her sweet tooth this weekend. And it’s easy to see how combing both direct mail and digital marketing helps you rack up those required 7-20 interactions with your target audience much faster.

In a perfect marketing cocktail, direct mail will boost your reach, provide repeated reminders, and literally give your target audience something to hold onto; meanwhile, digital ads will provide measurements of your marketing efforts and add another touchpoint for your customer wherever they are online. Combined, you can save money on direct mail and get more lasting impressions from your digital ads. It’s a match made in heaven.

How to Put This Dynamic Duo to Work 

So, how do you successfully combine direct mail and digital? Figuring out how to send direct mail to the same people you are advertising to with digital marketing sounds tricky. Not to mention that you want to have it all launch on the same day so you’re really compounding those touchpoints with your brand. If only there was a tool that allowed you to determine the best ways to advertise to your target audience and addressed these problems… 

Oh, wait. 

There is. 

Mapfire is a mapping tool that will help you design and focus your marketing campaign. All you need is a physical address, an general idea of your target demographic, and a budget. Not only will it show you where the highest concentration of your target audience is, but it will also tell you how many different email addresses, social media accounts, and home addresses are located there as well. Then you can design an ad, pick a launch date, and start advertising! (We break the entire process down for you in this post.) When it’s all done you’ll be able to see the stats on how each leg of your marketing campaign turned out and optimize from there. 

Using the Golden Mean

Now that we’ve figured out Aristotle’s golden mean for marketing strategies—use both direct mail and digital marketing—you can go build that marketing campaign.

Don’t delay, get started on your hybrid direct mail + digital marketing campaign today.


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