The Pros and Cons of Direct Mail Marketing | Taradel

Response rates from direct mail marketing are higher than ever. According to the Direct Marketing Association, direct mail is 20 to 40 times more responsive than email marketing. 

The chances are, you didn't know that.

You are not alone, because most people don't. And that's the reason why direct mail marketing is powerful again. Often dismissed as redundant, most marketers are completely unaware, but direct mail advertising is more effective than ever.

A direct mail campaign provides the perfect sweet spot of immediate results with long-term brand growth. It is enjoying a renascence of late, with switched-on business owners turning to it once again to reach potential customers.

Employing a direct mail marketing strategy should be a key consideration for most business owners and marketers. But despite the resurgence, many people are oblivious to how effective it is, while those in the know hope it stays that way.

Very Much Alive

Direct mail marketing is anything but dead. Far from it. Not only is direct mail very much alive and kicking, but it is producing better responses than ever and seems to be doing so while flying under the radar somewhat. In most cases, it is even wholly outperforming online advertising.

But how? Well, there are reasons.

Not long after its peak, direct mail marketing was stigmatized as an annoyance to consumers, and with good reason. Twenty-something years ago, you would open your mailbox in the morning only to be greeted by a tsunami of junk mail promoting everything from pet stores to nail salons.

Mortgage lenders, local builders, politicians, dentists, and a host of other national and local businesses ran direct mail campaigns to target new customers. For a while, every second company seemed to be using direct mail advertising to reach prospects.

The average person's mailbox would consist of one utility bill, a birthday card from a distant aunt, and a ton of leaflets, flyers, and letters promoting a dizzying array of goods and services.

This led to saturation, and consumers stopped paying attention to direct mail marketing. Businesses would invest hugely in physical mail and an expensive postal service only for the paper to wind up as kindling for the BBQ or as airplanes for the kids. Notoriously low response rates became very much the norm.

Direct Mail Marketing Rises Again

But then online digital marketing came along, and direct mail strategies ground to a halt. Well, almost. At the very least, there was a significant drop-off, and it has stayed that way ever since. Business owners turned to email and online marketing for new prospects, and as a result, the daily volume of direct mail advertising began to subside.

For many years, social media was (and still is) an effective way of targeting your ideal audience, while email campaigns worked great for direct response. But now we seem to have gone full circle, and direct mail is rising once again, while email is beginning to drop off.

Email is still a highly effective method of targeting prospects, but only under specific criteria. First and foremost, the email list needs to be of reasonable quality.

Secondly, you need to be contacting prospects who aren't already slammed with a constant waterfall of digital mail each morning.

With so many ineffective, overused 'spam lists' circulating at suspiciously low rates, that's tricky to arrive at. Because of this, email isn't quite as responsive as it once was. As a result, direct mail is in resurgence, as some marketers return to good old-fashioned print advertising. The savvy ones, at least.

The Benefits of a Direct Marketing Strategy

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of direct marketing - the advantages of direct mail in a digital world, together with one or two reasons why it might not be a perfect fit for you.

Direct Mail Is No Longer Saturated

Since 2000, first-class mail has been dropping considerably. Mailboxes are not as slammed with literature as they once were. In turn, your letters are less likely to compete with dozens of other marketers. Unlike email, direct mail messages have a high chance of reaching your prospect.

Remember, it matters less how many messages you can broadcast and more how many messages are seen, opened, and engaged with. In an age where email is saturated, direct mail ticks this essential box very well indeed.

Connect With Your Customers

Surfing the internet these days means facing a world of banners, buttons, and pop-ups, all of which are easy to dismiss, ignore or even fail to notice in the first place.

People are in danger of becoming banner blind by the maelstrom of digital advertising presented to them each day.

Cut through this digital noise with direct mail, which isn't as repetitive, feels more personalized, and is guaranteed to meet with your prospect.


By its very nature, direct mail is more tangible, providing a physical connection with the prospect. You can let your creativity fly. Some marketers are even using foldable origami postcards to connect with prospects in a more playful, interactive way.

Personal Nostalgia

In terms of direct advertising, nothing quite beats a personalized message printed on good old-fashioned paper. Your prospect might even consider it a nice surprise, given that most advertising these days is delivered digitally. At the very least, you will be creating intrigue.

Effective with Email

Direct mail is highly effective when paired with email and other online channels to get the momentum flowing on your inbound strategy. Target prospects with direct mail and lead them toward your digital marketing for optimal results.

Circulation & Reach

Where digital ads are more fleeting, on average, direct mail is retained for 17 days and sometimes inadvertently shared with other household members. This leads to a far higher circulation than digital alternatives. More eyeballs on your offer, in other words.

Disadvantages of Direct Mail Marketing

Of course, disadvantages of direct mail do exist. Let's look at what they might be and how more modern forms of digital advertising could be a better fit for you.

Slower to Create

Suffering a downturn in business? With digital advertising, if necessary, you can have something 'out there' in minutes. You can't suddenly create a direct mail campaign in the same way because it takes time to create and launch. Direct mail is highly effective, but it is not something you can turn to for an instant, same-day boost in sales.

Tracking Results

Online ads come with a host of measurable statistics in real-time. With just a few clicks, you can determine uptake rates among specific audiences, enabling you to tweak and adjust the campaign as you go. With direct mail, less so.

It is possible to A/B test direct mail by sending out different types of literature with various types of copy, and you can include QR codes with your letter, postcard, or flier, but in reality, it is far easier to measure its digital counterpart.

Direct Mail Campaign - Marketing’s Best-Kept Secret

You would be forgiven for thinking of direct mail as old-fashioned, a thing of the past, and probably best left there.

Not everyone thinks that, however. There is a particular type of modern-day marketer who not only utilizes direct mail but favors it over its digital counterpart. They are quietly reaping excellent results from direct mail while sheepishly looking over their shoulders, hoping the competition fails to notice.

This specific type of modern-day marketer hopes for direct mail to continue for many years. And why wouldn't they? With order books filling up and cost-effective acquisitions helping to boost margins, direct mail is an unexpected essential in their marketing efforts.

But what type of modern-day marketer are we talking about here?

The savvy ones, of course! Business owners and marketing managers of all shapes and sizes have dusted off this old marketing strategy and are now striking marketing gold because of it. Even big tech is turning to it for increased sales, with the likes of Google and Amazon now using direct mail frequently.

The fact is that direct mail has always been around, hiding in plain sight, waiting for marketers to notice it once again. And now, they are beginning to.

But by leveraging this lack of awareness amongst most marketers, you can reap the benefits of an incredibly lucrative marketing campaign and watch response rates soar.

Don't be one of the uninformed. Reach out, and let's chat. If you aren't part of this resurgence, you probably should be.

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